What Size Cremation Urn Do I Need?
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Probably the most common question that people ask when searching for a cremation urn is “What size urn do I need?” Here is the basic information you will need to answer that question.
The Simplest Answer:
In general, many memorial industry professionals have adopted the following - easy to remember - rule of thumb:
1 pound of Body Weight = 1 cubic inch of Urn Space (little less)
- 175 lbs. person needs an urn with 160 cubic inches (it is ok to have a little extra space in the urn)
- 200 lbs. person needs an urn with 180 cubic inches
- 250 lbs. person needs an urn with 230 cubic inches
From a technical perspective this rule is not precise, but it generally produces a safe estimate of the size urn you will need. Memorial professionals often encourage following this rule when customers are shopping before the cremation ashes are available (if the cremation has not yet taken place, for example). Only on very rare occasions will the rule guide a customer to select an urn that is too small; if the estimate is in error, it will most likely be in the direction of being too large. And having too large an urn is, typically, not a significant concern for urn buyers.
Although the rule of thumb is usually safe to depend upon, experts are careful to note that, if a scientifically certain estimate is needed, the rule is not sufficient. This is because the amount of ashes usually depends on many other factors besides body weight. Those who need a precise answer to the question of urn size must wait until the ashes are available from the crematory. Once they are available, the following method can be used:
Arriving at The Most Precise Answer:
- Measure the depth and width of the temporary container provided by the crematory. (A standard size is 5” depth and 6” width.)
- Open the temporary container so that you can see the ashes (if you are uncomfortable doing this, do not be afraid to ask a friend or even a crematory employee to do it for you). Measure from the bottom of the container to the top of the ashes - which are often packaged in a separate plastic bag.
- Multiply the measurement in step 2 by the depth of the container. Then multiply that product by the width of the container. Your result will be the number of cubic inches required for the ashes.
Sizes of Various Urn Types:
The memorial industry offers three main varieties of urn types whose sizes can be expected to be within a standard range: individual sized urns, companion sized urns, and keepsake sized urns. Each of these types of urns has a specific purpose. Below are a description of each type and an estimate of what specific size these urns can be expected to be.
This is probably the most common sized urn, designed to hold the cremation remains of one individual. These urns are usually between 175 and 300 cubic inches. The average amount of cremation remains for an individual is usually a little less than 200 cubic inches, so individual urns work well in the vast majority of cases.
These urns are the largest that are available from the memorial industry. These urns range in size from 300 cubic inches to about 600 cubic inches. In the vast majority of cases, these urns are intended to hold the cremation remains of two people (usually a married couple that desires to be memorialized together), but occasionally they are used for the remains of a single person. Families of large people will often opt to memorialize their loved ones with a companion urn. Fortunately, many companion urns are available as a single compartment so that they can be used for individuals. And many couples choose this option as well because the idea of mixing the remains into one compartment is a desirable one. Many companion urns are divided into two compartments as well, and, while these are not necessarily intended to be used as individual urns, there have been cases in which single individuals cremation remains were stored in a double compartment companion urn as well.
These urns are the smallest that are available from the memorial industry. They range in size from just a few teaspoons to as high as 100 cubic inches. The larger of these keepsake urns have been occasionally used to hold the entire set of cremation remains of a small sized individual. But the most common use of a keepsake urn is to hold simply a small portion of cremation remains. Keepsake urns are most often used by families who want to share a loved one’s remains. A small portion of the remains are often poured into two or more keepsake urns, and those urns can be divided among families who live in various regions.
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