If you plan on burying the cremated remains of a loved one, you may need an urn vault or cremation burial vault. While not legally mandated in most places, many cemeteries require urn burial containers. The container prevents the ground over the urn from sinking if the urn breaks down under the soil.
You do have several options for containers for urn burial:
- Burial urns, also called urn vaults, are cremation urns made from marble. They are designed to withstand the moisture and pressure that comes with burial, and most cemeteries will not require an additional container. These urns come in a variety of colors and styles, including cubes and vases, and are suitable for display at a memorial service or in your home.
- Urn burial containers are large enough to hold an urn inside. They can be made of polystyrene, steel, fiberglass, polymer, and other materials that will not biodegrade or break down in the soil.
Burying an Urn
When an urn is buried in the ground, it's exposed to moisture and pressure from the surrounding soil. Many urns – particularly those made of wood, ceramic, or glass – can be damaged when they are buried, since they are not made for this purpose. These decorative urns need extra protection to keep them safe. If the urn breaks, not only will the contents be exposed and possibly lost, it can leave an unattractive depression in the soil.
Cremation burial vaults are made specifically to hold an urn inside. These urn burial containers are made of materials like polymers and steel that are sturdy enough to support the weight of the soil and are not damaged by water. Any type of urn can be placed inside, and it will be protected from the elements. In addition, many burial containers have a little extra space so that additional mementos can be added.
How to Choose a Burial Container
Once you've selected your cremation urn, you'll need to choose a container in which to bury it. Start by considering materials. Polystyrene and basic polymer vaults tend to be the most affordable, and they can be simple and dignified. The urn may be sealed inside with clips or a strong adhesive. Stainless steel containers are often a bit more expensive, but they are extremely durable. Steel may also offer more colors and decorative options. Fiberglass vaults are also strong and durable, and they can be made to mimic other materials.
Most urn burial containers do not include an urn to hold the cremains, so you'll need to purchase one separately. You will need to know the dimensions of the urn in order to select an appropriate urn burial container. Make sure that the interior dimensions of the vault are large enough to fit your urn comfortably, and consider whether you would like any extra room in which to add any mementos that you'd like to bury with the urn.
Urn burial containers usually include a plaque that can be engraved with the name of the deceased, dates of birth and death, and an epitaph or brief message. Cemeteries often require that the container be clearly labeled so that there is no question about who the cremains belong to.
Do I Really Need a Cremation Burial Vault?
Legally speaking, you may not need a special container in which to bury an urn. Many cemeteries do require one, however, if the urn itself is not made specifically for burial. If you've purchased a burial urn or marble urn vault, then an additional container won't be needed.
Of course, if you do not plan to bury the urn, then there is no need for an urn burial container. Many people choose to display the urn in their home or place it in a columbarium, which is a building designed with multiple niches in which to house urns. You may also wish to scatter the ashes or share them among loved ones of the deceased. Note that there are some religions, including the Catholic Church, that require cremated remains to be buried or entombed in a columbarium or mausoleum.
Enter in an approximate weight of your loved one before cremation and we will tell you the size needed.
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Choosing the right size urn is easy. For every one pound before cremation you will need 1 cubic inch of volume. For example, a loved one weighing 200 pounds will need an urn that is at least 200 cubic inches or larger. Choosing an urn larger then you need is OK.