12 Things You Can Do With Cremation Ashes

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Whether it’s from movies or personal experience, you may have limited ideas when it comes to cremated remains. They’re not something that can be dealt with in fun or inventive ways, right? You can either keep them in an urn or scatter them, right? Not quite — we’re here to help you brainstorm ways to scatter or repurpose your loved one’s cremated remains in a unique way.

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The number of things that you can do with cremation ashes has only grown over time. This is mainly in response to the fact that cremation has grown in popularity. Though it’s important to grant your loved one’s wishes for their funeral and burial, this doesn’t mean the ideas have to be ordinary. 

Ideas for Cremation Containers to Keep at Home

Keeping your loved one’s remains at home or even dividing cremated ashes among your family members may be a vital part of your healing process. It’s unlikely that upon receiving your loved one’s ashes that you’re ready to part with them immediately — unless, of course, this was part of their wishes. 

However, you can rest assured that you aren’t forced to have just any old urn or eyesore of a container. You can easily find a vessel to do your loved one’s presence justice, and that will suit your taste. You may also be interested in tips for flying or traveling with cremated remains.

1. The right urn

Though you may feel as though you’re crunched for time to pick out an urn for your loved one, you don’t have to settle, and shouldn’t feel forced to. 

Especially if you’re hoping to keep your loved one’s remains around for a long time, you should shop around for urns for ashes until you find the right one. Urns can be made out of a variety of materials, including wood, marble, ceramic, or stone, and can be customized accordingly.

2. Vinyl record

Yes, you read that right. If you’re honoring a music lover or musician, perhaps pressing their remains into a vinyl record is the perfect way to keep them around your home.

That being said, turning ashes into vinyl records will not use all of your loved one’s ashes. You might have to keep the remaining ashes in another container. 

3. Custom urns

Custom urns may not look like urns at all, and perhaps that’s the main point. It’s likely you or your loved one had some unique taste or quirks or would appreciate a nontraditional sculpture or art piece to house his or her remains. 

Of course, commissioning a custom urn may not be within your budget. As we mentioned prior, it may just take a bit of patience and shopping around to find the right urn for your loved one. Foreverence specializes in creating custom urns that reflect your loved one's personality, legacy, and passions. 

4. Direct cremation

In the event that your loved one already had an urn in mind or you are otherwise short on funds for your ideal urn, you can save some money by completing a direct cremation. 

A direct cremation occurs shortly after a person dies, and, therefore, removes any need for the purchase of embalming services, a casket, or post-funeral cremation which is more expensive. 

» MORE: Instead of ashes, create a beautiful stone. Parting Stone helps you keep your loved ones close.


Ideas for Cremation Art and Nontraditional Containers

Turning your loved one into art or something you can display is an incredibly special way to keep him or her close. There are a variety of different types of art you can create or commission with cremated remains.

5. Cremation jewelry

Cremation jewelry can be accomplished in a variety of forms, styles, and with different materials. Your loved one can be saved in a locket, incorporated into a diamond or stone, or turned into some other type of pendant or wearable memoriam.

Cremation jewelry may be a great option for you, too, if you’re dividing ashes among other family members. Even if you have just a small part of your loved one, you can likely turn it into something beautiful. 

If you're looking for something extra special, you can turn your loved one's cremated remains into a memorial diamond. Memorial diamond companies create lab-grown diamonds in the cut and color of your choice. Typically, these gems start between $2,000-$3,000, and the growing, cutting, and inspection process takes between six months to a year. 

Tip: We recommend Eterneva's memorial diamond service, which offers memorial diamonds in five cuts and six colors.

6. Glass art

There are a variety of types of blown glass art that can easily incorporate remains. This may include lamps, jewelry mentioned above, or gazing balls. 

These glass art pieces are typically best appreciated when hung in sunny spots or areas that catch light. Colored glass can cast beautiful washes of color around your space and make you feel closer to your loved one.

7.  A gourd or salt urn

Placing your loved one in a gourd or other biodegradable urn, such as a salt urn, allows you to keep your loved one at home with you for a short time before giving them a green burial.

Gourds, of course, are biodegradable, and can be displayed on your mantle for a while, in your garden, or buried. Salt urns, on the other hand,  are typically used when scattering ashes at sea. 

8. Tree pod burials

Tree pod burials are another type of nontraditional burial that gives back to the environment. Incorporating your loved one’s cremated remains back into the earth and transforming them into a living, growing tree can be rather beautiful, too. 

You can even choose to have the tree planted on your family’s land so your loved one isn’t far. This is also a great alternative if your family owns a burial plot, but you’d rather add some greenery instead of another headstone. 

Ideas for Scattering or Planting Ashes

Scattering ashes does not have to be dull or commonplace. Though it’s expected to be emotional during this event, you may not find it the right time to mourn or be sad. You can truly help your loved one go out with a bang with some of the following ideas. 

9. Wait for the right season

Waiting for the right time of year — if it was outlined in your loved one’s wishes, for example — can be just as important as finding the right location. Perhaps you can’t make it across the country right now to a specific park or scenic overlook, or your loved one really wanted to be scattered when the wildflowers were blooming. These are all totally excusable reasons for holding onto cremation ashes until the time is right.

No matter how wild or creative your idea ultimately is, however, it’s important to respect federal and state laws for scattering ashes. The last thing you want to do is mar the memory of your loved one with a run-in with the law (even if he or she would find it humorous).  

Furthermore, when scattering ashes, you may be unsure of what to say. While silence can be beautiful, too, you may choose to recite something out loud or in your head. Here are some ideas for what to say when scattering ashes

10. Scattering urns

Scattering urns are specifically shaped for the purposes of scattering your loved ones with some precision. 

Though it’s still important to keep wind and weather conditions in mind when you choose to scatter your loved one, the right container for doing so can be very helpful. Scattering urns are typically tube-shaped or constructed so it’s easier to pour the contents out. 

11. Turn remains into a coral reef

Yes, that’s right, you can turn remains into a coral reef. If your loved one was particularly passionate about the ocean, nature conservation, or was otherwise inventive, this is perhaps the perfect idea. 

Though this option does not allow you to keep them as close to you as some other options, you both may rest easier knowing their remains are being put to use as part of an important cause to protect and restore aquatic life. Of course, it doesn’t end there. The health of our oceans directly impacts our health, too. 

12. Alkaline hydrolysis (water cremation)

Alkaline hydrolysis is yet another type of burial that’s easier on the environment. Though cremation is considered slightly more eco-friendly than most traditional burials, it still requires a considerable amount of heat and emits natural gasses into the atmosphere, whereas water cremation does not. 

13. Become a firework

Exploding into an elaborate fireworks display is perhaps one of the most impressive and unforgettable ways to scatter ashes. 

This option may not make sense for everyone, but if your loved one had a big personality or otherwise lit up a room, it may be a perfect fit. However, there are some important things to consider when it comes to the cost, legality, and availability of cremation fireworks.  

Respect Your Loved One’s Wishes

Whether your loved one left behind an elaborate plan for what to do with his or her remains or not a word at all, you should still do everything you can to respect his or her memory.

Creative, unique ways to scatter or store ashes are great, sure — but should not be done at the expense of your loved one. Though it’s important for you to heal, too, you can celebrate your loved one’s memory in other ways. For more tips on end-of-life planning, check out the rest of Cake’s resources. 

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