After cremating a loved one or pet, you can choose to take their ashes (which technically aren’t ashes, but that’s what we commonly refer to them as) home with you. If you do so, you might wonder what to do with cremation ashes.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How Much Ash Do You Get After a Person’s Cremation?
- How Much Ash Do You Get After a Pet’s Cremation?
- How Much Ash Do You Need to Fill an Urn or Scatter Them?
You have many options. You can store them in an urn, scatter them, turn them into cremation jewelry, bury them, and much more.
That said, you might also have questions about the volume of ashes after cremation. Just how much of your loved one or pet’s remains will you actually get after cremating them?
Keep reading to learn more about this topic. This guide will cover a few rules of thumb and statistics you should know, helping you make important choices about what to do with post-cremation ashes.
Tip: If you turn your loved one's ashes into solidified cremation stones with Parting Stone, you can receive between 40 and 60 unique stones, depending on the volume of ashes you provide.
How Much Ash Do You Get After a Person’s Cremation?
Before answering this question, you must understand how cremation works. This will help you better understand what “ashes” consist of.
The cremation process
Cremation involves burning a deceased person’s body in a special chamber at approximately 1,700 degrees. The process can take two to four hours depending on a range of factors.
When the cremation process is over, all that will remain of the person’s body is their bones. Those performing the cremation will use special equipment to grind them up into a powdery substance. This substance is what we’re actually describing when we refer to cremation ashes.
Volume of ashes after cremation
The average weight of ashes after an adult’s cremation is five pounds. However, this can vary depending on the weight and size of someone’s bones. Some ashes only weigh three pounds. Others can weigh as much as 10 pounds.
Factors that may contribute to the weight and volume of ashes you get after a cremation include:
- Height: Taller people usually leave behind more ashes than short people.
- Sex: Generally, male bones are denser than women’s, and thus result in more ashes after cremation.
- Age: Children will leave behind a smaller amount of ashes than adults most of the time due to height differences. However, younger adult bodies will typically yield more post-cremation ashes than elderly adult bodies. This is because bone density decreases with age.
Of course, for very practical reasons, knowing the weight of ashes after cremation may be less important to you than knowing the specific volume of ashes after cremation. For instance, if you’re selecting an urn, you want to be certain you’re choosing one large enough to reasonably hold all of your loved one’s remains.
The typical volume of cremation ashes is 200 cubic inches. If you’re wondering what that volume of ashes looks like, picture a common grocery store bag of sugar. That’s a close estimation.
An important point
It’s worth addressing another question you may have on this topic before covering the volume of pet cremation ashes. When someone cremates your loved one, you might wonder if they give you all of the ashes after cremation.
Yes, they do. Or at least they’re supposed to. A reputable crematorium will provide you with all your loved one’s ashes. While a few particles may linger in the cremation chamber, they won’t add up to a significant amount.
That’s why it’s worth your time to research your options when looking for a crematorium. You want to be confident you’re working with people who’ll give you all of your loved one’s cremated remains. If you choose an establishment with a positive reputation, that’s not an issue you need to worry about.
You’ll be happy to know that cremation chambers can only hold a single body at one time. It’s also illegal in the US to cremate more than one person in the same chamber simultaneously. That means there’s no risk of someone else’s ashes mixing with those of your loved one.
How Much Ash Do You Get After a Pet’s Cremation?
Many of the same basic factors that influence the volume of ashes after a person’s cremation will also influence the volume of ashes after a pet’s cremation. Specifically, the size of a pet will play a major role in the weight and volume of ashes they leave behind.
That means the volume of ashes you’ll take home after cremating a pet will vary widely depending on the size of the pet. Cremating a small bird will yield far less than cremating a large dog.
The following are some of the average weights and volumes of ashes for a few popular pets. Just remember, you may want to discuss this topic in greater detail with the professionals handling the cremation if getting a specific answer is very important to you. After all, even among the same animals, like dogs, the size of a pet (and thus the volume of their ashes) can vary significantly based on breed and similar factors.
The weight of a dog’s ashes after cremation will often be somewhere around 3.5% of their body weight. Those who perform dog cremations say the volume of a large dog’s ashes is usually about enough to fill a basic rectangular Kleenex box.
Because most domesticated cats tend to be relatively small when compared to larger dog breeds, they usually leave behind only two or three cups’ worth of ashes.
Experts also recommend estimating the volume of ashes after a pet’s cremation by assuming every pound of body weight will yield one cubic inch of ashes.
A mature adult horse can weigh between 900 and 2,200 pounds. So, the volume of a horse’s ashes may be between 900 and 2,200 cubic inches.
Again, you may be interested in learning about the volume of ashes after cremation because you want to know how large of an urn you’ll need. Luckily, many pet urn suppliers offer products in different categories based on the type of pet you’re cremating, making it easier to find an urn that will probably be large enough for your needs.
How Much Ash Do You Need to Fill an Urn or Scatter Them?
According to research from the Cremation Association of North America, the average size for a standard urn is 200 cubic inches. If you want to completely fill an urn to its maximum capacity, that’s about the volume you’ll need.
However, it’s important to realize that it’s not necessary to completely fill an urn. In fact, experts recommend erring on the safe side if purchasing an urn ahead of time and buying one that will likely be somewhat larger than your needs. You don’t want to bring home a loved one or pet’s ashes, only to find the urn you chose isn’t big enough to hold them all.
You might also want to distribute the ashes across a range of containers. For example, maybe you travel often and would like to keep a piece of your loved one close when you’re away from home. If so, you could keep some of their ashes in a traditional urn on display in your home, while keeping a smaller amount in a portable keepsake urn.
Some people choose to distribute certain amounts of ashes among close family members and friends as well. Thus, unless everyone chose the exact perfect size, it would be very unlikely for all friends and family members to be able to completely fill their chosen urns to capacity. They simply wouldn’t have enough for a standard urn.
If you only have a small amount of ashes, you might consider turning the remains into a cremation diamond, instead of storing them in an urn. With Eterneva, you only need between two tablespoons and half a cup of cremains to create a real diamond that will last for generations.
Volume of Ashes After Cremation: Helping You Make an Important Choice
Although this blog hopefully provided you with some valuable information, remember, it’s still smart to consult with experts if you have additional questions about the volume of ashes after cremation. Everyone from funeral directors to the staff at the crematorium will gladly help you get a clear sense of how much space a loved one or pet’s ashes may take up.
- “15 Things You Need To Consider Before Choosing Dog Cremation.” Cremation Institute, Cremation Institute, cremationinstitute.com/dog-cremation/
- “Cremation Memorial Options.” Cremation Association of North America, www.cremationassociation.org/page/CremationOptions
- “Cremation Process.” Cremation Association of North America, www.cremationassociation.org/page/CremationProcess
- “FAQ’s.” Pet Cremation Services of MN, Pet Cremation Services of MN, petcremationmn.com/faq/
- Hill, Caleb. “Everything You Need to Know About Pet Cremation Ashes.” Agape Pet Services, Pet Urn & Pet Cremation Services, 11 March 2020, agapepetservices.com/pet-cremation-ashes/
- “How Much Does a Horse Weight?” HorseClicks, Horseclicks.com, www.horseclicks.com/community/advice/general-equestrian/how-much-does-a-horse-weigh-
- McAfee, Melonyce. “I’m Burning Up: How much will my ashes weigh?” Slate, The Slate Group, 26 July 2006, slate.com/news-and-politics/2006/07/i-m-burning-up-how-much-will-my-ashes-weigh.html
- Raymond, Chris. “What Happens to Unclaimed Cremated Remains.” verywellhealth, About, Inc., 31 May 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/what-happens-to-unclaimed-cremated-remains-1131947
- “What Size Cremation Urn Do You Need?” Boston Cremation, Boston Cremation, bostoncremation.org/blog/what-size-cremation-urn-do-you-need