Updated September 2021
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best urn

Buying an urn is a decision fraught with emotion since you're choosing a resting place for a loved one's ashes. Not only do you want to pick an urn that you like, but it's also natural to attempt to choose one that the person who's departed would have liked. Remember, though, that someone who loved you probably wouldn't want you to stress out too much about urn selection, so go with whatever feels right.

We understand how tough this process is, and we want to make it easier for you. Perhaps the first factor to decide is whether you intend to display the urn or bury it. While you can bury any urn, many mourners choose biodegradable urns for burial so the ashes can return to nature.

You'll have more to consider, too, such as size, design, and material, but we'll talk you through it all, so you won't be overwhelmed. Keep reading our buying guide to find an urn that’s right for you and your loved one.

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Funeral homes usually return ashes in a temporary urn or container unless you provide the urn of your choice before cremation.

Key considerations


Metal urns are probably the most common option available today. They're strong and durable yet reasonably affordable. You can find simple plain metal urns, but the majority are painted or have a ceramic coating for a more decorative appearance.

Ceramic urns used to be popular but have fallen out of favor due to the availability of attractive metal urns. The cost of a ceramic urn is comparable to that of a metal urn, but they're fragile and may shatter if knocked off the mantlepiece or accidentally dropped.

Wooden urns are inexpensive and informal. They tend to appear more like decorative boxes than urns, which some people prefer to the classic urn look. They may be plain or have decorative carving.

Stone urns, such as marble or granite, have an elegant appearance that can't be replicated. They're extremely sturdy but heavy, so they can be difficult to move if you want to clean around them. They also tend to be expensive.

Biodegradable urns are typically made from specialized cardboard, but you can also find other material options including bamboo and other natural plant fibers. Biodegradable urns are used for earth or water burials.


You must consider the capacity of your chosen urn, as it needs to be large enough to contain all of the departed one's ashes. The capacity of an urn is given in cubic inches. This isn't pleasant to think about, but you will need approximately one cubic inch of volume for every pound of bodyweight before cremation. A person of 200 pounds would require an urn with a capacity of at least 200 cubic inches. We'd recommend allowing a leeway of a few cubic inches, however.

You should also check the exact dimensions of any urn you're considering to be sure it will fit wherever you want to place it. This is especially important if you intend to inter your loved one’s ashes in a cemetery columbarium, since an oversized urn won't fit within the niche.

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Expert Tip
Companion urns are extra-large urns big enough to fit the ashes of two people who wanted their remains to stay together.


Storage bag

Some urns include a decorative bag that you can use to store your urn inside if you choose not to display it. This bag is also useful to protect the urn as you transport it home from the funeral parlor.


Manufacturers sometimes offer personalized urns with a name, dates of birth and death, a special message, or whatever you choose. If the urn you buy doesn't have an option for personalization, you may be able to have the urn personalized or have a small plaque attached to it at any store that offers engraving services.

Felt bottom

Felt is often attached to the bottom of an urn to protect whatever piece of furniture you place it upon. It also helps prevent the urn from sliding.

Screw top lid

Should an urn fall or get knocked over, a screw-top lid will keep the ashes safely inside.

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Expert Tip
If you have young children, pets, or anyone else who could knock over an urn, we highly recommend buying one made from metal with a screw-top lid, so it can hit the floor relatively unscathed.

Urn prices

For some people, spending a large sum on an urn is a way to show they care, but we'd urge you not to get too caught up on the price. You can find some nice urns if you're on a tight budget, which are no less special than expensive options.

Basic biodegradable or wooden urns can cost as little as $30 to $60. Not every inexpensive urn is of equal quality, but you can find some lovely options in this price range.

Mid-range urns are priced from $60 to $150. This includes classic-looking metal and ceramic urns.

High-end urns can cost from $150 to $500. These are the most ornate urns, including some models made from marble and other luxury materials.

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Expert Tip
Should you wish to scatter all or some of your loved ones remains somewhere significant, you can buy special containers designed for scattering the ashes.


  • Consider what the departed person liked. If you're stuck on which urn to choose or you want an urn that reflects your loved one's interests, think about what they liked. For instance, if they loved the outdoors, you might choose an urn with a floral or other plant motif.
  • Think about the shape. Classic urns have a curved shape that dips in before flaring out again at the lid, but you can also find less-traditional urns in a variety of shapes including rectangular or heart-shaped designs.
  • Factor in where you intend to display the urn. Anyone who intends to permanently display an urn should consider where they'll display it and whether it will mesh with the decor. It might seem unimportant now, but down the line you will want your loved one’s remains to blend in comfortably with their surroundings.
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Ashes are usually placed inside a plastic bag in the urn making them easy to transfer to a new urn, though a funeral director will usually assist you if you prefer.


Q. What if I don't yet know what I'm going to do with my loved one's ashes?
This is a hugely difficult time, and it's okay if you don't have all the answers yet. Give yourself permission to put aside the question of what to do with your loved one's ashes and deal with it later. When in doubt, we'd recommend buying a standard urn that can fit all the ashes inside. Should you decide in six months or six years that you'd rather scatter the ashes or bury them in a biodegradable urn than keep and display them, that's fine. Giving yourself some peace of mind now is more important than worrying about the money you might spend on an urn that you won't need long term.

Q. Can I travel on a flight with an urn?
The TSA has some rules about travelling on flights with a full cremation urn. It must be scannable in an x-ray machine so that they can see what's inside. Some airlines also have specific rules regarding travelling with cremated remains. It may be best to travel with your loved one's ashes in a simple temporary urn that meets TSA requirements and transfer them to a permanent urn when you get home. Contact the airline you're travelling with and the airport you're flying out of to find out any specific rules about transporting remains. This will help you avoid an unpleasant situation when going through security.

Q. What is a keepsake urn?
A keepsake urn is a miniature urn, generally less than six inches tall, that's meant for keeping small amounts of ashes. Some people choose to scatter the majority of the dearly departed's ashes and keep a little in a keepsake urn. Other families choose to divide the ashes among them, with each keeping a small urn.

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