Choosing the perfect Size of Urn: The A-Z Guide

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In the tender moments following the loss of a loved one, when emotions run deep, and decisions feel weightier than ever, one question often emerges as a poignant reminder of our desire to pay tribute fittingly: “What size of urn do we need?” The right urn size can be a bridge between the past and the present, a vessel to hold the cherished memories of a lifetime. Yet, the journey to find that perfect fit can be quite daunting.. 

The challenge often lies not just in the emotional weight of the decision but also in the practical aspects. Selecting the wrong size can lead to complications, such as an urn that cannot accommodate all the ashes or one that leaves too much empty space, making the memorial feel incomplete or disproportionate. 

Such missteps can add to the emotional distress, turning a process meant for closure into one of confusion and regret. In this article, we’ll demystify how to identify the ideal urn for your loved one amongst the myriad of alternatives available in the market. 

How does the size of an urn matter?

Choosing the right urn size is of paramount importance when honoring a loved one who has passed away. One of the primary reasons is the respect and dignity of the deceased. An appropriately sized urn ensures that the remains of the departed are housed in a manner that is both respectful and dignified. 

An urn that is too small might not accommodate all the ashes, leading to distressing decisions about what to do with the excess. On the other hand, an overly large urn might seem disproportionate, giving a sense of emptiness.

Beyond the immediate considerations of respect, there are aesthetic implications to think about. An urn serves not just as a container for ashes but also as a symbol of remembrance. It often occupies a special place in a home, a columbarium, or another place of significance. 

An appropriately sized urn will look harmonious in its designated space. An urn that’s either too large or too small might disrupt the visual balance of its surroundings, detracting from the reverence it’s meant to inspire.

Let’s understand the essence of urn size in more detail:

  • Emotional Comfort: The urn serves as a tangible connection to the deceased. The right size can provide emotional comfort, ensuring that the ashes are held securely.

  • Economic Considerations: An urn larger than necessary can lead to unnecessary expenses. Conversely, an undersized urn might necessitate buying another one, leading to additional costs.

  • Environmental Considerations: For biodegradable urns, the right size ensures proper degradation, allowing the ashes to return to the earth in an environmentally friendly manner.

  • Customization and Personalization: The right urn size offers adequate space for engravings, artwork, or other mementos, ensuring that personal touches are neither crowded nor overshadowed.

Standard urn sizes and their capacities.

In the midst of grief, preparing for a cremation brings its own set of challenges. One of the most daunting tasks can be selecting the right urn, especially with the plethora of sizes available in the market. It’s a decision no one wants to rush, yet the myriad of options can be overwhelming. To ease this process, here’s a straightforward guide to the standard urn sizes:

  1. Keepsake or Mini Urns: These are the smallest urns available and are often used to hold a small portion of ashes. They are ideal for families who wish to divide the ashes among several members. Typically, keepsake urns can hold up to 1 to 3 cubic inches of ashes, which is roughly equivalent to 1 to 3 tablespoons.

  2. Small or Child Urns: Designed primarily for children or individuals with smaller body weights, these urns can typically hold between 20 to 50 cubic inches of ashes.

  3. Medium Urns: Medium-sized urns are suitable for young adults or individuals of average weight. They can generally accommodate 50 to 100 cubic inches of ashes.

  4. Adult Urns: The most commonly selected size, adult urns are designed to hold the ashes of an average adult. Their capacity usually ranges from 175 to 220 cubic inches, which is roughly equivalent to the ashes of an individual weighing 175 to 220 pounds.

  5. Companion or Double Urns: These urns are designed to hold the ashes of two individuals, often a couple. They have a larger capacity, typically ranging from 300 to 400 cubic inches.

  6. Oversized Urns: For individuals who have a larger body weight or for situations where a single urn is used to house the ashes of multiple individuals, oversized urns are available. Their capacity can exceed 300 cubic inches, depending on the design and purpose.

Choosing The Right Urn Size

When it comes to choosing an urn, size is undeniably important, but it’s not the sole consideration. The process is akin to selecting a final resting place that encapsulates the essence of a loved one’s journey. Beyond mere dimensions, several nuanced factors play a pivotal role in this decision. Let’s delve into these factors in detail:

  1. Individual’s Body Weight: One of the primary determinants of urn size is the body weight of the deceased. Generally, one pound of body weight translates to roughly one cubic inch of ashes. For instance, a person who weighed 150 pounds would typically produce around 150 cubic inches of ashes.

  2. Type of Cremation Process: Different cremation processes can yield varying amounts of ashes. For example, water-based cremation (also known as alkaline hydrolysis) might produce a slightly different volume of ashes compared to traditional flame-based cremation.

  3. Bone Density: The density and size of an individual’s bones can influence the amount of ashes produced. Individuals with denser or larger bones might result in a greater volume of ashes.

  4. Desire for Shared Remembrance: In cases where families wish to divide the ashes among multiple members, smaller keepsake urns or jewelry might be chosen in addition to a primary urn. This decision can influence the size and number of urns required.

  5. Inclusion of Personal Items: Some families choose to include small mementos, letters, or other personal items in the urn alongside the ashes. If this is the case, a slightly larger urn might be necessary to accommodate both the ashes and the added items.

  6. Future Plans: Consideration of what will be done with the urn in the future can influence its size. For instance, if the intention is to scatter the ashes at a later date, a temporary or biodegradable urn might be chosen. If the urn is to be interred in a columbarium, the niche size can dictate the urn’s dimensions.

  7. Design and Material: The design and material of the urn can also play a role. Some materials might be bulkier or have thicker walls, requiring a larger overall size to hold the same volume of ashes.

Environmental Considerations

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the environmental impact of various end-of-life choices. As we strive to leave a smaller carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices, even decisions related to cremation and memorialization are being viewed through an eco-friendly lens. When choosing an urn, there are several environmental considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Biodegradable Urns: These urns are crafted from natural materials like paper, salt, clay, or even coconut shells. Designed to break down over time, they are ideal for those who wish to return the ashes to the earth, whether through burial or water ceremonies.

  2. Materials and Production: The environmental impact of an urn can also be determined by the materials used and the production process. Urns made from sustainable woods, recycled materials, or those that require less energy-intensive production methods are more eco-friendly.

  3. Transportation: The carbon footprint associated with transporting urns, especially those sourced from distant locations or overseas, can be significant. Opting for locally crafted urns can reduce this impact.

  4. Future Plans: If the intention is to scatter the ashes in a natural setting, it’s essential to ensure that the ashes and any accompanying materials are environmentally benign and won’t harm the ecosystem.

  5. Columbarium Impact: While placing an urn in a columbarium might seem neutral from an environmental standpoint, the construction and maintenance of these structures have their ecological implications. It’s worth considering the sustainability practices of the chosen facility.

  6. Cultural and Traditional Practices: While honoring cultural and traditional practices is essential, it’s also worth exploring eco-friendly adaptations or alternatives that align with environmental values.

  7. Personal Values: Ultimately, the choice of an urn should resonate with the personal values and beliefs of the deceased and their loved ones. For many, this includes a commitment to environmental stewardship and making choices that reflect this ethos.

Parting Thoughts

While size, design, and environmental considerations are undeniably significant, the essence of the decision lies in crafting a lasting tribute that resonates deeply. In our quest to memorialize our loved ones, we often seek avenues that add depth and meaning to our gestures. Beyond the immediate act of remembrance, there’s a profound desire to create a legacy that intertwines the memories of the departed with something enduring and impactful.

Better Place Forests taps into this sentiment, offering a unique alternative that goes beyond traditional memorialization. By allowing loved ones to become a part of a protected forest, they present an opportunity to blend ashes with native soil. In doing so, the departed are not just remembered but become an integral part of a living forest, memorialized at the base of a chosen tree. 


What size urn for two adults?

For two adults, you’d typically consider a “Companion Urn” or “Double Urn.” These urns are crafted with the intention of holding the ashes of two individuals. Their capacity usually ranges from 300 to 400 cubic inches, ensuring there’s ample space to accommodate the combined ashes of both individuals respectfully.

Can you put 2 people’s ashes in one urn?

Absolutely. There are urns specifically designed for this purpose, known as “Companion Urns” or “Double Urns.” These urns provide a shared resting place, symbolizing the unity and closeness of the individuals in life and memory. They are spacious enough to hold the ashes of two adults comfortably.

How do I choose the right size urn?

Choosing the right size urn involves several considerations. Primarily, you’d look at the body weight of the deceased, as a general guideline suggests one pound of body weight equates to about one cubic inch of ashes. However, it’s also essential to consider any personal items or souvenirs you wish to include within the urn. Consulting with funeral professionals or crematorium staff can provide precise guidance and recommendations tailored to your needs.

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