Are you a fan of American westerns? If so, you probably know what it means when a gunslinger says it's time to cut down an old pine tree. This means that someone is about to die, and the wood from the pine tree will be used to make a coffin.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What’s a Pine Box Casket?
- How Much Do Pine Box Caskets Usually Cost?
- Main Types of Pine Box Caskets
- Where Can You Buy a Pine Box Casket or Pine Box Casket Kit?
- What Are Good Alternatives to Pine Box Caskets?
Pine coffins have been around a lot longer than the 1800s. Pine has been used for coffins in America since the colonial era. The tree was abundant, and it became the common material for casket building.
Even if you associate the phrase “old pine box” with a bygone era, family members can still choose this simple material for modern caskets. Let’s learn about pine box caskets, how they differ from other casket materials, how much they cost, and the different types.
What’s a Pine Box Casket?
A pine box casket is made from the wood of a pine tree.
If your loved one wishes to be buried in a pine box casket, this usually means that they want a simple, no-frills, and environmentally friendly coffin. Most people who request a pine casket would expect that this would be one of the least expensive types of caskets available, even though that may not be the case.
The pine tree can be seen all over the world. Since it grows during the winter, it’s a symbol of longevity and eternity.
Difference between metal, wood, and pine box caskets
Caskets are made with a wide variety of materials. Some of the most durable caskets are made of steel or stainless steel. These durable caskets are rated by gauge, with a 16-gauge casket being more durable than an 18-gauge casket.
Caskets can also be made of various types of wood. Usually, mahogany, walnut, and cherry caskets are more expensive than those made of oak, birch, or maple. Typically, the least costly caskets are made of willow, poplar, and pine.
Pine caskets are some of the lightest coffins available. You can estimate that a pine coffin will weigh 43 pounds for every cubic foot compared with mahogany or cherry, which weighs up to 56 pounds per cubic foot. How much the casket weighs may be helpful if you are concerned whether the chosen pallbearers are strong enough to move the coffin after the service.
How Much Do Pine Box Caskets Usually Cost?
Pine caskets can vary in cost, between $1,000 and $3,000. The price depends on the materials used and the quality of the lining. Pine caskets built by hand by master craftsmen may also be higher in price.
Even though pine caskets are known for being inexpensive, you may be able to find less expensive options, such as cloth-covered fiberboard caskets or wicker basket caskets.
Main Types of Pine Box Caskets
Are you interested in prepurchasing a pine box casket for yourself? Has your loved one always told you that he or she wished to be buried in this modest type of coffin? Regardless, here are some types of pine caskets to consider.
1. Unfinished pine box casket
Unfinished pine box caskets do not have any stain added to the outside or inside. They are typically light in color, and they may have a fabric (cotton, silk, velvet, or satin) liner or may be left unlined.
Some companies will line an unfinished pine casket with a blanket or piece of material important to the deceased.
2. Finished pine casket
A finished pine casket can be finished with a transparent stain. Usually, the clear stain brings out some of the nuances of the wood grain. The stain can also add a shine to the casket. A shinier casket gives you a gloss stain and a less glossy option would be a satin-stained finish.
You can also purchase a pine casket that has a darker stain.
3. Hand-rubbed casket
You will see some casket purveyors advertise that their product is hand-rubbed.
This means that the casket has been polished to a very smooth surface by hand instead of by a machine. Artisans typically advertise that their products are hand-rubbed as a source of pride.
4. Amish pine casket
Most people know about the traditional Amish way of life. Their practice of not using electricity does not prevent them from making wooden furniture and caskets. In fact, people prefer purchasing Amish-made pieces because the label equates with high-quality craftsmanship.
Not every Amish-made piece is actually made by the Amish, though. Although the Amish live throughout the country, most furniture comes from Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio.
5. Simple pine box
The Amish aren’t the only ones selling simple pine caskets. Other companies make bare pine boxes for burial.
You may be interested in finding a company that boasts being able to have a negative carbon footprint. One manufacturer says it plants 100 seedlings for every tree it uses to make a casket.
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6. Eco-friendly casket
Not every pine casket is environmentally friendly. For the casket to fully disintegrate, it can’t be made with any metal or treated wood. There are quite a few companies now that specialize in this type of casket. Look for ones made with wooden screws or a tongue-and-groove style construction.
Some people who choose an eco-friendly burial do not have their loved ones embalmed. The embalming process is completed by injecting the body full of chemicals. This chemical residue seeps into the ground as the body disintegrates.
7. Kosher caskets
Some sects of Orthodox Jews encourage the faithful only to bury the dead in kosher caskets. “Kosher” usually describes food but it is also used to describe something that is “clean” or “fit.”
Kosher caskets are made without any metal or plastics. They are fully biodegradable and great care is also taken with the type of casket liner placed inside. The casket is constructed with pegs or dowels and only biodegradable glue is used.
8. Pine coffin
Although the words “coffin” and “casket” are usually interchangeable, some people refer to a rectangular box as a “casket.” A coffin, however, is tapered in at the head and sometimes the legs as well.
While most modern caskets are rectangular, some people who choose an “old pine box” for burial may prefer to purchase a coffin that looks like those in Western movies.
9. Build-your-own pine casket
Don’t be startled by the “build-your-own” header! Some people like the idea of taking care of this piece of business before they die. Several companies are available that will help you through the coffin-building process. They provide materials and plans.
You may also choose to build a casket for a loved one. Although it is not the typical practice in the United States, other cultures across the world take great satisfaction in preparing their loved ones’ bodies for burial. Most Americans would prefer to leave that task to professionals but many find comfort in making a casket or even digging the hole for the grave.
10. Engraved pine casket
Some families choose to personalize a loved one’s casket. They can do so by adding the name of the individual and birth and death dates.
Most companies that offer casket engraving can add religious symbols or nature images to the casket as well.
11. Knotty pine casket
Some people prefer wood that has many knots scattered across the surface. This look is fashionable in cabins and ski lodges. It can also be used as material for a casket.
12. Rope-handled pine caskets
Whether you prefer the look of rope handles on a casket or wish to use the design to be friendly to the environment, many casket companies now offer fully biodegradable hemp handles.
Where Can You Buy a Pine Box Casket or Pine Box Casket Kit?
One of the most convenient places to purchase a pine box casket is through the funeral home you’re using for your loved one’s services. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to buying this essential item through a local business.
When you buy a casket through a funeral home, the item is conveniently added to your final bill. This means that you’ll be able to limit the number of companies that you’re interacting with during this emotionally difficult time. Also, the funeral home employees will be responsible for dealing with shipping delays, problems with the item being out of stock, and other hassles that may occur when buying an item that has to be delivered on time.
However, you must understand that you don’t have to buy a casket through your local funeral home. The funeral home also can’t charge you a “handling fee,” if you build your own casket or purchase one from another retailer.
Sometimes, you can buy a pine casket cheaper online than you can through your local funeral home. Some online retailers offer free overnight shipping to your funeral home. If you’re willing to trust that this delivery can be pulled off without a hitch, you might be able to enjoy significant monetary savings if you buy your loved one’s casket online.
One reason that people purchase pine caskets is because they like the “simple image” that comes with being laid to rest in a pine box. Others buy this type of casket because they want to save money. Still, others choose a simple pine box because it’s more eco-friendly than hardwood or metal.
Here are some online retailers that sell pine box caskets or pine box casket kits:
Titan Casket sells three different versions of the classic “pine box.” The website says that all you need to do is enter the funeral home address that’s serving your family, and they’ll take care of all the logistics. The Eco-1 and Eco-2 caskets are ecologically constructed and completely biodegradable.
Sky Caskets offers four half-couch pine caskets, but they aren’t as simple-looking as those you can buy from Titan Casket. You may be able to get same-day delivery when you order through Sky Caskets, as the company has multiple distribution centers across the country.
Casket Builder Supply sells casket-building kits for families who would like to honor their loved ones by building the casket. The company website says that you’ll receive everything you need to make a simple pine box casket and that the process should take no longer than one hour. Expect to save money when you purchase a disassembled casket. However, the savings isn’t significant.
What Are Good Alternatives to Pine Box Caskets?
If you’re searching for a pine box casket, you’re probably looking for a casket with a simple style. You might also wish to buy a casket that’s inexpensive or perhaps eco-friendly.
As a side note, we understand your desire to purchase an earth-friendly casket. However, most cemeteries require that the casket is placed inside a concrete vault at the time of burial. The concrete vault makes the ground more stable and safe. Therefore, if you want a genuinely eco-friendly burial experience, you’ll need to accompany the purchase of an earth-friendly casket with a plot in a natural cemetery. Here are some alternatives to pine box caskets that may be inexpensive, eco-friendly, or simple in style.
Cloth-covered caskets are constructed using corrugated fiberboard. This material is then covered with a highly durable cloth. Someone familiar with caskets might recognize a cloth-covered casket as being an inexpensive product; however, they don’t necessarily look “cheap” (nor do they look “simple”).
Cloth-covered caskets are inexpensive. In fact, you can easily buy one for less than $1,000. Some funeral homes may not have them on display, but if you ask, the employees might be able to order one in for your loved one’s service.
Cloth-covered caskets are not made with eco-friendly materials.
Envision a wicker laundry basket. Wicker caskets have a similar look. They’re typically made from willow, seagrass, or bamboo, and most would think they were “simple” in style.
Even though wicker caskets are simple and environmentally friendly, they’re more expensive than pine box caskets. You may have a difficult time finding one for less than $1,000.
We included cardboard caskets on our list because they’re certainly inexpensive and simple. Cardboard caskets are generally used as cremation caskets, but their popularity as “green” burial caskets has grown in recent years.
Sometimes families choose to have an open-casket visitation preceding their loved one’s cremation. Some funeral homes allow you to rent a more expensive casket for this service, which they might line with the cardboard cremation casket.
Cardboard caskets are undoubtedly inexpensive and (perhaps) environmentally friendly. You might ask about this option if you plan a graveside service (or another service where the casket wouldn’t be on display).
Jewish burials are modeled after Genesis 3:19, “For you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” This means that traditional Jewish caskets are usually simple, eco-friendly, and biodegradable. They typically use no metal in the construction.
Other Thoughts When Choosing a Casket
When you’re in mourning, you may not make the same decisions that you would have made at a less emotional time. Because of this, some families purchase a more expensive casket to honor a deceased loved one. While there is certainly nothing wrong with buying an elaborate or highly decorative casket, you may think back to conversations you may have had with the person when planning a funeral.
If your loved one often said that he or she would prefer to be buried in an old pine box, do not feel that you are tarnishing your loved one’s memory by going through with the purchase. In fact, you are showing honor to your loved one by following his or her final wishes.
- “Pine Tree: Symbolism and Meaning.” treesymbolism.com/pine-tree-symbolism-meaning.html