After a loved one is cremated, families often wonder what can be done with their loved one’s cremation ashes. There are the usual ideas like scattering them or placing them in an urn — but maybe you’d prefer something more unusual, yet still meaningful?
If so, you’re in luck. Neptune Society has gathered information about some of the less well-known cremation memorialization ideas and will be featuring these ideas on our website over the coming months.
If you wish there was a way that you could carry something of that special person around with you forever, then this month’s cremation ash idea might appeal to you — cremation ash tattoo ink.
Yes, that is right. You can have tattoo ink made with the cremation ashes of your loved one. These are referred to in the tattoo industry as ritual or commemorative tattoos.
How It Works
Essentially, a ritual tattoo is one where a small amount of cremation ashes are added to regular tattoo ink, to create an ash-infused ink solution. This is then injected into the customer’s skin, just as a regular tattoo would be.
There are some challenges involved with the procedure, the most important of which is getting the cremation ashes to a fine enough consistency where they will blend into the tattoo ink smoothly. Working with the ash/ink solution can be somewhat challenging, which is one reason why it is best to find a tattoo artist that is experienced and familiar with doing these types of ritual or commemorative tattoos.
Is It Safe?
Since cremation ashes are heated to over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit during the cremation process, the risk of disease or infection is probably not much higher than it would be from using any other material, although the exact risks have not been studied.
The most important consideration with regard to safety is how the ashes are handled prior to mixing with the ink. Many state regulations require — and most reputable tattoo artists freely follow this procedure even when not required to do so — that all tools, equipment and materials used to make tattoos be autoclaved before use to minimize risk of infection.
If you’re considering having a cremation ash tattoo done, we recommend that you discuss with your tattoo artist what specific steps he or she will take to minimize your infection risk.
Precautions and Considerations
Commemorative tattoos are a relatively infrequent procedure; tattoo artists that do ritual or commemorative tattoos may only do a few of them each year. As such, most state and federal health agencies have not reacted with regulations specific to performing them. However, some agencies such as Health Canada have warned against them due to unknown health risks.
The tattoos are also somewhat controversial within the tattoo industry itself — some artists are willing to do them, others are not. For the most part however, tattoo artists themselves decide whether they are or are not willing to do them and they fall under the same sanitation regulations as any other tattooing procedure.
One other consideration is that some of those who have had tattoos done with cremation ashes report that the tattoos can be itchier than tattoos done with regular ink, so if you have sensitive skin or other concerns, this is something to keep in mind.
Neptune Society supports the rights of family members and friends to memorialize their loved ones in the way that feels right to them. If you feel that a cremation ash tattoo would be right for you, we recommend interviewing several tattoo artists in your area to find the most experienced artist, and asking your health professional about any health and safety related questions prior to embarking on the procedure.
For more information about cremation, please contact your nearest Neptune Society representative today.
This article is part of our “What To Do With Cremation Ashes” series in which we intend to highlight the lesser known memorialization options available to families who choose cremation. If you or a loved one is considering cremation, we at Neptune Society encourage you to consider carefully your own position on the memorialization and make the choice you believe is right for you and your family. For more articles in this series, please see our article archive.