Do You Need a Casket for Cremation in the United States?


With the rising cost of caskets and burial services, growth in the popularity of cremation is not much of a surprise. In fact, in 2015, more people chose cremation than an ordinary burial, and its popularity has continued only to grow since. Still, some of the details of cremation remain a mystery to many. 

You do not need a casket for cremation in the United States, but you do need some sort of container to hold your loved one during the cremation process. While some people choose to use a casket for this process, you can get much cheaper options for cremation. 

Let’s talk more about cremation containers and how to find the right one for your loved one. 

Can You Use Any Traditional Casket for Cremation?

While you can use some traditional caskets for cremation, not every casket is suitable. Crematoriums require you to select a casket made of combustible materials. 

Combustible Materials

The crematorium staff will only allow certain containers for your loved one’s cremation. This means that not all traditional caskets are options. If the casket features many metal parts or other parts that aren’t able to burn at high temperatures, then you won’t be able to use it to hold your loved one during the cremation. 

Combustible materials may not be something that you can easily identify. So, let’s talk about some materials that you can choose for a cremation casket or container. First, wood is the most prominent choice. Whichever type of wood you choose for the casket will suffice for cremation purposes. 

There are also some alternative materials to consider for the cremation container. Bamboo and wicker are popular choices for the casket if you want to go green with your choice. Speaking of green options, you can also consider recycled cardboard for the cremation casket. 

Not Permitted for Cremation

While plenty of wood caskets feature small metal parts, morticians will not allow these to hold your loved one during the cremation. The cremation process should burn the body and the container, leaving only fragments. Metal pieces will not burn in the cremation chamber and can even damage the burnt pieces. 

So, morticians will require you to have a container with no metal pieces. So, many traditional caskets with metal bars and attachments are not options. This can make you feel like you have to choose a casket that you don’t want for your loved one, but that isn’t your only option. 

Do You Need To Use the Funeral Casket for Cremation?

The casket you use for cremation does not need to be the same casket you use for the funeral. If you plan on having a funeral before you cremate your loved one, you may want to consider a different casket for the funeral and the cremation. 

Let’s talk about some options for having the same or different caskets for a funeral and a cremation. 

Rental Casket

Renting is a great option if you want a casket for the funeral service but want to save money. Renting is a great option. You can rent a casket exterior to use for the funeral service and cremate your loved one in a simple wooden box. This option allows the elegance of a traditional casket without the price. 

Manufacturers build rental caskets with a removable inside. So, your loved one will not be resting where others have before them. Instead, funeral directors will place your loved one in a wooden box and then place the box inside of the rental casket. You will keep the wooden casket for your loved one to rest in while the funeral director cleans and resells the outer casket. 

Not only is this a great way to save money, as rental caskets cost $725 to $1,250 on average, but it is a great way to ensure that the casket you choose is fully combustible. It can seem like a waste of money to have the casket you choose for your loved one burned with them. So, consider renting to get the best of both worlds. 

Go Green

More and more people are considering their impact on the environment. If your loved one considered the same, it is no surprise that they also chose cremation. There are plenty of ways that you can ensure your loved one has environmentally conscious options for their funeral and cremation. 

There are plenty of green options out there when it comes to cremation. In fact, green caskets are completely combustible. So, you can ensure that your casket choice will not get turned away by the crematorium. 

Buy Outside of Funeral Home

A great way to find a casket to use for a funeral and cremation at a reasonable price is to look at other merchants. This can save you money and ensure that your options fit your own unique needs. 

It is important to know that you are protected by law when shopping outside of a funeral home for a casket or cremation chamber. The FTC funeral rule states that you have the right to buy the container or casket of your choice from any vendor without being penalized by the funeral home. 

This rule means that the funeral home can’t charge you a fee for using an outside container for your loved one. The funeral home also can’t refuse to use the container you purchase. They must accept the delivery of the casket or container and use it for your loved one without extra fees. 

With these FTC rules protecting you and your loved one, there is no reason that you should not shop around during the funeral planning process. Consider other merchants that may have something you like better or even the same item as a funeral home for a lower price. These discounts can help you afford a better option for a funeral and cremation. 

Are Containers Required for Cremation?

Containers are required for cremation. While they don’t have to be caskets, you must purchase some type of container for your loved one’s cremation. Mortuaries require a rigid, combustible chamber for cremations to handle and store the body of your loved one with dignity. 

It can be difficult to see the point of cremating your loved one in a container, given that the process also destroys the container. But there are valid reasons that mortuaries require containers. 

The main reason they require them is that containers allow them to handle and store bodies with dignity and respect. They allow staff to move your loved one from place to place without risking dropping or damaging the body in any way. 

As shown in the linked study, morticians often face challenges with the stigma associated with their work with the deceased. Families may express concern about whether the staff treats their loved one with respect during the cremation process. Using a container to handle the deceased can help morticians establish professionalism and respect. 

Once the body of your loved one begins the process of rigor mortis, handling the body can be a risk for morticians. As the body stiffens during this process, parts of a body can break off during movement. So, morticians and funeral directors have to take extra care whenever they handle a dead body. A container helps them do this safely. 

Can You Bury Your Loved One After Cremation?

You can bury your loved one after cremation. The process is cheaper than a traditional burial because your loved one will require a smaller space to rest, and caskets are a lot more expensive than urns. 

Burying the cremated remains of your loved one can save you plenty of money compared to a traditional burial. It is not often a possibility that people consider. When most people think about cremation, they consider keeping the ashes stored in their homes or spreading them at a specific location. However, that’s not the only option you have

Burying cremated remains can allow you to fulfill the final wishes of your loved one while allowing them to rest close to you and other deceased family members. This is an especially great option for a family burial plot, as they can still rest there. Let’s talk more about some of the benefits of burying your cremated loved one. 

Saving Money

As discussed above, caskets are more expensive than urns. So, cremation can save you money on an expensive casket, but that is not the only way you will save money if you choose to bury cremated remains. Burying cremated ashes costs less than burying a body because the cemetery doesn’t have to provide as much space for the urn. 

The average cost of a burial plot for a traditional casket ranges from $525 to $5,000. For cremated remains, the average cost of burial ranges from $350 to $2,500. While these are just average costs and will vary based on a few different factors, you can see that it is significantly cheaper to purchase a plot for an urn based on the average numbers. 

Funeral and mourning concept - red rose and cremation urn with burning candles on table in church

Burying cremated remains requires less space than burying a casket. So, cemeteries will charge less for these plots. Many cemeteries also have columbariums which help preserve the urn in stone. Most of the time, cemeteries have contracts for keeping your loved one stored for a certain amount of years. After this time, you can collect the urn. 

Once you collect the urn at the end of the contract, you can choose to do anything with the ashes. You can make keepsake jewelry to hold the ashes, store them in your home, or even have them taken by another cemetery if you are not ready to decide. 

Personal Burial

One of the best parts of choosing to bury an urn rather than a casket is that you can be more selective with where you decide to bury your loved one. You may have more options available to you in a crowded cemetery because the plot will be significantly smaller, but you can also choose to skip the cemetery altogether. 

An urn is much smaller and more manageable than a casket. So, you can choose what to do with it without help. This means that you can bury your loved one’s ashes on private property. As long as you own the property or get permission from the owner, you can bury your loved one anywhere.

This is especially convenient if you own your own home. You can choose to bury your loved one with you. So, you will not need to go visit their grave as they will be resting on your property. This may not be a valid option for people who rent their homes, but if you have any plans to buy a home, you may want to keep their urn to bury it there. 

Burying Allows for Retrieval

While we already discussed contracts with cemeteries coming to an end, it is also important to note that burying the ashes of your loved one allows you to retrieve them at a later date. Rather than waiting for the end of the contract, you can retrieve a buried urn whenever you’d like. 

You may be wondering why you would want to retrieve the urn, but there are many possible reasons. One, it is easy to move them to a new location. Sometimes, we need to move for better work or living opportunities, and you can always take your deceased loved ones with you. 

While you can still move a loved one that is in a casket, it is a lot more complicated and costly. Moving a cremated loved one resting in an urn takes a lot less staffing and cost. So, this makes your loved one a lot easier to take with you should your family need to move. 

Final Thoughts

While you don’t need a casket for cremation, your loved one will need to rest in a container during the process. This keeps them protected and respected, not allowing staff to mistakenly mishandle your loved one during the cremation process. 

You can save a lot of money by considering a more basic container for your loved one rather than seeking a traditional casket. For this process, it is best to focus on the urn that will hold your loved one’s ashes, as this is what they will rest in. 

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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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