How To Transfer Cremated Remains Into An Urn

When a loved one passes away, it’s common for their remains to be cremated and shipped to the surviving members of the family or friends. In some cases, these remains are not shipped with an urn. When this occurs, many people opt to purchase an urn separate from where their loved one was cremated.

But dealing with something as sensitive as the remains of a loved one can be a daunting and stressful task, and understandably so. In order to relieve unneeded stress during a time of grieving, we’ve provided some tips on transferring cremated remains into an urn, courtesy of the Neptune Society.

Things to Consider Before Starting

Make Sure You Have the Right-Sized Urn

When filling an urn with the remains of a loved one, it’s critical that the one you’ve chosen is the proper size. The rule of thumb is that each pound prior to cremation is equal to a cubic inch of ashes. For example, when selecting an urn for somebody who weighed 160 pounds, you will need an urn with a capacity of 160 cubic inches or larger.

Leave It to the Professionals If Needed

Dealing with the remains of a loved one can be an emotionally trying experience. It goes without saying that many of us would be uncomfortable performing the task of transferring cremated remains into an urn. If you feel that it’s too much to handle, it might be best to reach out to a local funeral home or cremation center for assistance. Many cremation centers and funeral homes are happy to assist those who are in a time of grieving.

What You’ll Need

Here’s a brief list of items you should have readily accessible when transferring cremated remains into an urn:

  • Newspaper, small tarp, or other clean and flat surface to be laid under the urn to catch any ashes that may spill. Ensure that this surface can be used to easily place the remaining ashes into the urn.
    • Another piece of newspaper, or appropriately sized funnel for ensuring a smooth transfer from the box to the urn.
  • Optional mask and gloves. Cremated remains are non-toxic, but they do include very fine particles that may make wearing a mask and gloves appropriate for some.
  • Scissors for cutting the internal packing within the original box.
  • Sealant or glue if you plan on sealing the urn.

How to Transfer the Remains

  1. Lay out your newspaper or other clean surface on a flat and stable working area. This is where the urn will be placed.
  2. If you choose to do so, apply your face mask and gloves.
  3. Place your urn on the covered surface with the funnel you’re using within reach.
  4. Remove the lid from the urn and ensure the lid and inside are clean and clear of any obstructions or shipping materials.
  5. Carefully open the temporary container (plastic or cardboard box), and remove the internal bag containing the ashes.
  6. Depending on if you’re transferring the whole container of remains into the urn, there are two options for the next step:
    1. If you are transferring the whole bag of remains into the urn, simply place the bag into the urn. You may need to maneuver the bag, or slightly open it to release air so it fully fits within the urn.
    2. If you’re emptying the ashes into the urn, place your funnel inside the urn. Next, cut across a corner of the bag that contains the remains, and slowly pour the remains into the funnel. As the urn fills, ensure you slightly raise the funnel to create room for the remaining ashes. If any spills, lift the urn and place the funnel back in to pour the spilled ashes from the newspaper or small tarp into the urn.
  7. Once you’ve placed the bag, or emptied the ashes, into the urn, it’s time to close the urn. Screw in the thread, or ensure that the urn is completely closed. If you’re sealing the urn, make sure to clean the lip of the urn thoroughly before applying glue or other sealants. Then place several small dots around the base of the lid, as well as the outside of the opening. Quickly place the lid on top, and screw it in tightly to ensure a proper seal. Wipe away any excess glue before it dries.

Final Notes Regarding Transferring Cremated Remains into an Urn

This post explains how to transfer cremated remains into a standard urn. While there are many other urns on the market, such as water urns or tree urns, the process of transferring remains into an urn is mostly the same. If you have any questions regarding a specific urn you’ve purchased, it might be best to reach out to the manufacturer before transferring remains.

If the option is available, it’s best to leave the process of transferring cremated remains into an urn to a professional. Those who work in funeral homes or cremation centers have experience with handling remains, and it can help avoid both the emotional toll and the possibility of accidents or mistakes.

Neptune Society is Here for You When a Loved One Passes

At Neptune Society, we aim to make the after-life process as easy as possible for the deceased’s loved ones. We know how stressful it can be to lose a parent, sibling, or friend, and want to help you make the process as smooth as possible. For questions regarding cremation or the other after-life services we offer, reach out to us online or give us a call today.