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Urn Sizing: A Guide

Losing a loved one can be emotionally devastating. Grief can affect all aspects of our day-to-day lives, and during this challenging time, making decisions about memorialization can add an extra layer of complexity and, sometimes, distress. Perhaps one of the more difficult decisions you will have to face is finding a suitable urn for your loved one and ensuring it is the right size. 

We want to provide this guide to walk you through crucial aspects and steps in finding a cremation that is the perfect size for your needs. 

Why It’s Important To Understand The Urn’s Purpose

Before you search for an urn and choose the correct size, many different urns exist for many other functions. For example, some urns are ideal for display at home, some for placement within a columbarium, some for scattering, and others for burial.

Decide which type of urn suits you or your loved one’s needs according to their wishes or, in the case of no instructions, what suits your loved one best. 

What is Urn Size or Capacity? 

An urn’s capacity measures the interior or inside of the urn. An urn’s capacity is measured in cubic inches. Cubic inches are the length, width, and depth of the inside of an urn. For example, an urn that measures 8 inches long by 5 inches wide and 5 inches tall will have a capacity of 200 cubic inches. 
Since urns come in many shapes, internal measurements may not always be straightforward. Many urn companies with unusually shaped urns may not give the internal measurements but instead, list an urn’s capacity in cubic inches. 

How Do I Know How Much Ashes I Will Have? 

To ensure you can choose the correct cremation urn size, you must determine the volume of ashes you have or will have. Cremated remains are typically provided within a standard-sized container, allowing you to estimate the quantity quickly. The general rule in sizing an urn is one pound of body weight equals one cubic inch in ashes. 

To calculate the approximate volume required for a loved one’s urn, consider their weight at the time of cremation. For example, if your loved one weighed approximately 150 pounds, an urn for their ashes should be around 150 cubic inches. 

In general, some standard volumes of cremation urns you may encounter are: 

  1. Individual urns. Most individual urns can hold 200 to 225 cubic inches of ashes. 
  2. Companion urns. These urns, designed to hold the ashes of two companions, can have anywhere from 225 cubic inches to upwards of 550 cubic inches of ashes. 
  3. Keepsake Urns. These are generally much more miniature urns, meant to hold a pinch or smaller portion of ashes—between 1 and 50 cubic inches. 
  4.  Cremation Jewelry. Memorial jewelry is designed to hold a tiny amount of less than one cubic inch. 

What Should I Do If Ashes Will Be Split With Friends and Family? 

Occasionally, friends and family members may wish to have some of the ashes from a loved one placed in a keepsake urn or a piece of memorial jewelry. When this happens, you will need to consider the original volume of ashes, then the lessened volume once each friend and family member has chosen their vessel for ashes. Many families may choose to split the ashes in 2, 3, 4, or even six ways. 

In this case, you will need to calculate roughly how much each portion will be in cubic inches and ensure you and each family member have an urn large enough to hold the amount of ashes they will receive. Remember that if a full-size individual urn is what you or a family member want to place split ashes in, that is perfectly acceptable, as that leaves extra space. 

Will You Be Adding To The Urn Now Or In The Future? 

Some individuals and families may wish to choose a companion urn to include the ashes of other family members when they eventually pass. Parents of a child or those who have lost their spouse often select these. Additionally, some bereaved families may add mementos to the ashes, such as a wedding ring, a photo, a watch, jewelry, or other items significant to them and the deceased. In that case, you may seek an urn larger than the 1 pound = 1 cubic inch measurements to accommodate these pieces inside the urn. 

Whether your loved one requested to be placed in a columbarium, scattered in their favorite spot, or displayed at home, we hope that we have been able to give you some clarity during this heartbreaking time and answer some questions about choosing the right-sized urn. Should you have any questions about urn sizes, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to assist.

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