9 Things You Can Do With Cremation Ashes

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When it comes to choosing between cremation and burial, one factor is the flexibility that comes with how the ashes—or cremains—will be dispersed. While a buried body usually remains in one place, cremains can be scattered, separated into multiple urns for different family members, or be memorialized in other unique ways. As cremation has risen in popularity, so too have the options for what to do with cremation ashes—including some you may not have heard of.

1. Scattering ashes

Perhaps one of the best known ways to memorialize a loved one, scattering ashes in a sentimental place can be a great way to commemorate someone’s life. There are regulations around where you can (and can’t) do this; consult city and town ordinances. For example, you may need a permit to scatter ashes in a park. Your funeral home or crematorium can help you find the rules for where you live.

2. Burying ashes in a cemetery

An urn of ashes needs a smaller plot than a casket, and can have a headstone. These plots can still be pricey, though. Urns may also be placed in a columbarium, which is a specific vault or other structure with niches or spaces for storing urns.

3. Burying ashes in a memorial garden

Some religious centers may have a memorial garden or wall where cremated remains can be buried or stored.

4. Burying ashes on your own property

You can bury ashes in your backyard, but the cremated remains must be dug up or declared if you decide to sell your house. If you wish to keep the ashes in the backyard, this could affect the property value of your home.

5. Making ashes into jewelry

Cremated remains can be incorporated into jewelry, often a pendant that holds a small amount of ashes inside. Cremation jewelry pieces can cost as little as $5 for a tiny urn that you fill with ashes yourself, and can climb into the thousands, depending on the complexity and materials used in the piece. Some companies can even create a lab-made diamond from carbon extracted from your loved one’s ashes.

While there are online outlets that can incorporate your loved ones ashes into a piece of jewelry, it’s smart to do your research, consult the Better Business Bureau, and get a few word-of-mouth recommendations. A local jeweler, or your funeral home, may also have suggestions for someone who can make a piece within your price range if you don’t want to send your ashes to someone whose work you found online.

6. Incorporating ashes into a reef

If your loved one adored the ocean, you may want to consider incorporating their ashes into a reef. In this option, ashes are mixed into cement, which is then used to create an artificial reef that is placed underwater. Only certain vendors and locations offer this, so it may not be available where you live.

7. Making ashes into artwork

Just like jewelry options, ashes can be incorporated into vases, decorative dishes, paperweights, sculptures, and more. Again, it pays to do your research, ask for recommendations and references, and find an artist who can work with both your vision and price point.

8. Incorporating ashes into tattoos

Some tattoo artists mix cremated remains into ink to create a tattoo. This idea should be approached with caution, as it may not be medically safe. If you are considering this option, consult with your doctor before you discuss the concept with a tattoo artist.

9. Incorporating ashes into fireworks

Some families cap off a celebration of life with custom-made fireworks in which ashes are incorporated into the firework powder. This can be pricey; again, a funeral home or crematorium may have suggestions for local vendors who can provide this service.

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