Frequently Asked Questions


What is the average size of an urn?

The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) determined that the standard capacity of a single adult urn should be at least 200 cubic inches (3.3 litres). 

What is a cubic inch?

The cubic inch is a unit of volume in the Imperial units. It is the volume of a cube with each of its three dimensions being one inch long. 1 cubic inch is approximately 16.4 Milliliters (ml) in the metric system.

What are the different kinds of urns?

There are many types and varieties of cremation urns. Here is a guide to help you sort through the nomenclature. At Canadian Urns we currently produce adult, companion and miniature/pet urns. We will be adding additional styles over time. 

How much do cremated ashes weigh?

Typically, the remains from an average adult will weigh about 4-6 pounds. The ashes from a woman average around 4 lbs, while men average 6 lbs. As with anything involving the human body, it can vary.

What size urn do I need?

The amount of ashes, or "cremains", that each  urn holds is measured in cubic inches. The industry standard used to figure before-and-after size is approximately 1 pound of healthy weight to 1 cubic inch of cremains; that is, a 150lb person will require roughly 150 cubic inches of space within the urn. Most of our urns are at least 240 cubic inches with some considerably more allowing you to place keepsakes, mementos, jewelry and so on in the urn as well. We also have a very large sized urn suitable for two people (Companion Urns) They are roughly 400 cubic inches in volume. It is important to note that even for a larger individual, the "cremains" are composed of the bone matter that remains after the cremation process. This means that regardless of a person's actual weight, the cremains should be roughly the same amount as the average person of the same height. 

What is a companion urn?

Some couples choose a companion urn to maintain their inseparability even after death. These urns are obviously much larger and typically will hold 400 or more cubic inches. Our companion urns may be ordered with an internal divider that can be removed if desired. This divides the urn up into two roughly equal sized compartments of 200 cubic inches each. The engraved top can be removed and sent back to us for engraving the second date of death for a nominal fee.

What is a miniature urn?

Often family members will want a miniature copy of the main urn that can be used to hold a small portion of the cremains. This is commonly done so siblings or children may retain a memory of their loved one with each containing a small amount of the cremains.

We also offer this small urn as a vessel for the cremains of pets or small children. They have an internal volume of 33 cubic inches (540ml)


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Storing Cremains

Can I keep the urn at my home?

Yes - it's perfectly fine to store cremation ashes in your home. Many people do this and keep them on display. Others opt to store the urn at a church or other location.

How do I access the interior of the urn?

All of our urns are secured with 4 screws. Just remove the screws, place the plastic bag of cremate into the urn, then reattach the bottom panel using the screws. The hole pattern ensures the bottom is always oriented correctly.

How do you transfer the ashes into the urn?

There are four methods for transferring the ashes into an urn after cremation:

  1. Place the entire temporary container into the urn if space allows.
  2. Transfer the entire bag from the temporary container into the urn.
  3. Pour the cremated remains from the plastic bag directly into an urn. 
  4. Pour ashes from the plastic bag into a new plastic bag inside the urn.

Should I seal my cremation urn?

It is not necessary to add any further sealant to the case since the cremains are normally in a plastic bag however you can add a bead of silicone before sealing the base shut if desired.

Is it okay to separate one's ashes?

The rule of thumb to follow in this case is this: if a religion allows cremation, it is almost always indifferent to how the ashes are handled. Dividing them among several urns is just as acceptable as storing them in a single container or scattering them over one or more spots.

Do you need a vault for cremation?

Most provinces and states do NOT require outer burial vault containers. However, most cemeteries DO require them to preserve the beauty of the cemetery grounds and to protect their maintenance equipment. Caskets and cremation urns eventually decompose and break down.

How will the ashes come from the crematorium or funeral home?

You can expect to receive the ashes in a clear, plastic bag (usually sealed with a twist tie or zip lock). The bag will be inside of a plastic or cardboard box. You may place the bag directly into the urn or leave it in the box, your choice.

Can I include other personal items along with the ashes?

Yes. Many people choose to include personal items such as jewelry, wallet, photos, letters and so on. There is no limit other than size as to what can be included with the ashes.

Who actually puts the ashes into the urn?

Most families will fill the urns themselves. There are four (4) screws that hold the bottom on. Normally the ashes will arrive in a plastic bag in a cardboard box. The bag is usually transferred into the urn without ever having to touch the ashes. If you prefer, most funeral homes will transfer the urns for you without question.

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What can be carved or engraved on the urn?

Each of our urns provides a generous space to engrave/carve whatever you would like. We use a state of the art CNC (computer numerically controlled) router to do the work. Most customers have the person’s name, date of birth, date of death and a tribute saying such as “Forever in our hearts”. We can also add a graphic such as a heart, doves, angel or whatever you’d like. If the person was an avid golfer perhaps something golf related. You will always receive a picture of exactly what it will look like before anything is started. All engraving is included in the cost of the urn - we never charge extra.

Can a photograph be engraved on the urn?

At this point we do not offer the ability to engrave a photograph of the deceased on the urn. We are looking at laser technology that may allow that but at the moment it is not offered.

Will custom engraving on the urn affect the delivery time?

Usually no. The actual time it takes us to set up and carve the top can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Most of the time this has no bearing on the shipment date. If you are concerned about the urn arriving by a specific date, please call us and we will try to make arrangements to suit.

What woods do you use?

An urn that will be displayed in your home for years must be made with the same care and materials as a fine piece of furniture. To that end we hand select all of our hardwoods used in the crafting of these urns. At the moment we generally use Black Walnut, Cherry and Sapele (a type of Mahogany) for the case. The inscription plate on the top or front of our urns which get engraved with our CNC router are either Birdseye Maple or Cherry.

What if I want a completely custom urn?

If you would like to purchase a one of a kind urn built to your specifications we would be happy to assist. Call us and we can discuss options, available woods, sizes, design elements and so on. Naturally the lead time is longer in this case but we will always endeavour to get it to you as quickly as possible.

Are your urns 100% Canadian made?

Yes! We source all of our wood right here in Ottawa (KJP Select Hardwoods) and only Sapele is a species not native to Canada. The urns are 100% produced in our Dunrobin, ON based workshop. The market is flooded with Chinese or similar made urns. Be careful if "Made in Canada" is important to you!

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Do I need to buy an urn from a funeral home or crematorium?

No. You are not required to purchase an urn through the funeral home or crematorium. They are required by law to accept any cremation container you choose. In most instances they are very nice about it, and will even hold on to the cremated remains for several days while you wait for the urn to arrive.

Can I purchase my urn in advance?

Absolutely! Many people want to ensure all the "loose ends" are tied up in advance of one's departure. You can choose exactly how you wish to be remembered, not relying on someone else's decisions. You'll get the one you want and you'll save money by not having to pay for expedited delivery or getting something more expensive than you want at the funeral home. Finally and perhaps most importantly, you will definitely save your family time and stress later on. The urn can be ordered with a blank date of death and the inscription plate can be returned for date carving when the time comes.

Do cremated ashes decompose?

Cremation ashes harm the environment. For years people have placed cremation ashes around plants as an act of returning their loved one to nature. When cremation ashes are buried directly into the ground, they do not decompose which hurts the surrounding plant life.

Are your cremation urns suitable for airline travel?

 Our wood urns can pass through the TSA's security screenings. Generally, most airlines will allow you to bring a cremation urn as a carry-on provided it passes through the security screenings. Out of respect, airport security personnel will never open the cremation container. This is why it is important to choose an urn which will pass through the x-ray screening. Airport x-rays will not affect the cremated remains.

How do I select an urn?

This is a very personal choice. An urn is a very sacred vessel containing the last remains of your loved one so take your time to choose an urn that expresses your love and feelings towards them. The inscription plate is an especially important element and allow you to add graphics and verbiage that will symbolize the deceased and always remind you of them. Call us, we can help you through the decision process.

Is It legal to scatter my loved one's ashes?

Usually, scattering cremated remains is legal in Ontario but we recommend verifying if it is okay in your municipality for health reasons. Some municipalities have by-laws or require special permits be acquired before a scattering ceremony can take place. If you chose to scatter the ashes on private property, you must have permission from the property owner.

Do you sell gift cards?

Yes. Gift cards can be purchased ($50, $100 or $250) to be used to offset the cost of an urn purchased later on. Gift cards never expire.

Can I contact you?

Definitely! We are a small, family run business and appreciate your phone calls and e-mails. If you have any questions about our urns, how they are made, materials used, whether an urn can be ready in time for a memorial service and so on please do not hesitate to contact us.

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