This area is the newest and perhaps fastest growing segment of funeral service merchandising.
- More and more families are choosing cremation as a means of final disposition.
- Families choosing cremation have begun to demand more service and more merchandise options to better fit their individual needs.
- Funeral directors, feeing a financial "pinch" from revenues lost by (historically) not effectively serving cremation families, have expanded the merchandise and service options available to the families they serve.
3 Forces Causing Dramatic Change in Cremation Merchandise
Regardless of the breadth and depth of cremation oriented merchandise:
- One to hold the body prior to and for the cremation process
- One to hold the cremated remains
All Cremations Generally Result in 2 Containers
- Cremation containers (and "alternative" containers)
- Urn and temporary containers for cremated remains
- Urn vaults
- Other associated merchandise
Major Categories of Cremation Merchandise
Any individual to be cremated must be placed in some kind of container prior to and for the cremation process itself; basic dignity, hygiene, ease of handling and transport require such a container as will this is necessary should a family choose the view the remains or have a service with the body present prior to cremation.
- May be traditional casket or newer container specifically designed for cremation.
- Actual choice made by families is based on what they feel is appropriate to their individual needs, budgets, and philosophies.
- Traditional wood burial caskets
- Traidtional metal burial caskets
- Rental caskets
- Cremation caskets and alternative containers
Types of Cremation Containers
May be used for cremation with a few caveats.
- Large volume of metal components (screws, nails, hinges, clasps, bed framework, hardware, etc) will remain after the cremation process is complete.
- At high temperatures zinc will produce a thick, white smoke that will likely cause the crematory's anti-pollution equipment to prematurely halt the cremation process. Should be removed prior.
- High gloss finish- materal used to finish gives an extremey high heat value. (should be first cremation of the day, in a cool chamber).
Traditional Wood Caskets
May be used for cremation, but the practice is neither widespread or recommended.
- Extensive preparation necessary (also remove casket caps).
- Only casket of this type that should not be used for cremation are those that have been galvanized (coated in zinc) and those formed from bronze.
- Question of what to do with burnt out casket shell
A casket which is used as a temporary receptacle for dead human remains for the purpose of visitation and funeral, with the intention that the remains will be placed in some other suitable container for permanent disposition, while the casket is intended to be reused for the same purpose.
- Some are a regular casket that is relined as required after each use
- Some are specifically designed to incorporate a removeabe insert.
Includes a portion of the interior lining, holds the body within a rental casket shell for viewing and/or services.
- Removed from casket prior to cremation and a lid placed on top.
- Use of a rental casket without this requires the family to purchase an additional cremation container for the actual cremation process.
These terms have two separate definitions, but they have become interchangable in practical use.
- Contain little if any mental components and are generally free of components that produce hazardous emissions when burned.
- Many feature photo-finish vinyl laminates (finished product resembles a hardwood casket).
Cremation Caskets and Various Alternative Containers
An environmentally safe casket which is designed for encasing dead human remains for cremation.
- Features wood or wood-based construction
An unfinished wood box or other non-metal receptacle or enclosure, without ornamentation or fixed interior lining, which is designed for the encasement of human remains and which is made of fiberboard, pressed wood, corrugated coardboard, composition materials (with or without an outside covering) or like materials.
- Frequently constructed to resemble traidtional caskets
Standard "Minimum" Container
A contained used to hold a dead human body which is constructed out of a type of cardboard, which is made with a series of alternate folds and ridges.
That a container used for cremated remains be of sufficient capacity to contain 100% of the remains retrieved from the cremation chamber.
- Acceptable volume of any creamted remains container to hold the remains of a cremated adult is about 200 cubic inches.
Primary Importance- Urns and Temporary Containers
A more or less permanent container designed to securely hold cremated remains for final disposition.
- Single capacity
- Double capacity
- Infant/child/keepsake capacities
Basic Urn Types
Designed to hold the cremated remains of a single adult.
Designed to hold the cremated remains of two adults, either together or in separate chambers.
Designed to contain substantially less volume than a standard adut urn.
A container for cremated remains; alternately a vase with a foot or pedestal.
Tend to be durable and strong. As of the time of writing, constructed with:
- Plastics/polymer resins
- Other materials
Materials Commonly Used for Urns
Most frequently formed from bronze, pewter, and steel
- Wrought and cast varieties
- Range from simple square boxes to elaborate, museum-quality sculpture.
A blusih gray alloy derived primarily from tin, often seen in a brushed finish.
Formed by pressing, stamping, and welding the metal into finished product; commonly painted, are usually the most economical of the metal urns.
Appreciated for their unique beauty. Almost any wood species can be utilized, the majority are crafted from hardwood such as mahogany, cherry, oak, and walnut.
A more or less crystalized limestone. Used to produce beautiful, durable urns, often with a high gloss polish.
- Appearance can vary widely
- Some are turned and crafted from solid stone
- Others are created by mixing marble dust with a resin/polymer, which is then molded into the finished product.
Formed from clay, fired at a high temperature, and then glazed by covering with an oxide coating and re-firing, have been used for thousands of years to hold cremated remains.
- Will not stand excessive abuse, but is very durable if given proper care in handling.
Seen at both ends of the price spectrum.
- Polymer plastics- many economical, entry-level urns
- Cast acrylic- many high-end sculpture urns
Used to hold cremated remains for a limited period of time, and generally take a few forms.
- Corrugated cardboard box
- Rigid container or metal cylinder from the crematory
- More permanent materials, some funeral directors believe, may discourage a family from purchasing a permanent urn.
- Scattering urns
- Biodegradeable urn
The cremated remains are held inside the box, contained within a plastic bag.
Currogated Cardboard Box
Some crematories/funeral homes prefer to place the cremated remains inside these.
Rigid Plastic or Metal Cylinder
Designed and marketed to hold the cremated remains for the usually brief period of time between the cremation and the subsequent scattering of the cremated remains.
- Made from a variety of quite durable materials, spun bronze, wood, wood by-products
Formed from materials that quickly break down in the presence of moisture.
- i.e. paper mache like product- purpose of "floating" the cremated remains out onto a body of water; the urn gradually absorbs the water, sinks, and deterioates.
Many cemeteries require that these be used when an urn is buried on their grounds for the same reason they require one for casketed burial- to help prevent the grave's "collaspe," an appearance and maintenance issue.
- Grave Liner
Outer Burial Containers
May be made of concrete, metal, or polymer plastics, constructed in the same manner as full-size burial vaults, albeit on a smaller scale.
- Supports the weight of the earth over the grave
- Prevents the urn from the encroachment of soil and water.
Possesses no sealing qualities. Most often formed from concrete, its purpose is simply to support the earth above the grave.
- Water fountain
- Keepsake jewelry
- Hand-blown glass
- Keepsake urn
Other Cremation Merchandise
- The family should be advised of the container's minimum size requirements so that the entire volume of cremated remains can be accomodated
- Director should provide and have the family sign a release acknowledging that the container they have chosen to use is not specifically designed as a cremation urn, holding harmless and indemnifying the funeral home from any damages that may result from the employment of such a container.
If Family Supplies Their Own Urn