25 Creative Ideas of What to Do With Cremation Ashes

Published November 5, 2020
Woman with mortuary urn

The number of people choosing cremation as the plans for after the funeral continue to soar as people are looking for more personal, cost-effective options beside a traditional burial. But the question for many remains, "What to do with the cremation ashes?" What is a proper way to honor and memorialize the deceased? Here are 25 (and even more for a bonus) innovative ways that will help you know what to do with ashes.

Interment Ideas for What to Do With Cremation Ashes

There are several options for individuals who want a more formal resting place for the ashes of their loved one. The following tradition settings provide dignity and respect for a ceremony and continuing visits.

Cemetery Burial

Bury the ashes in a cemetery. Interment of the cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery. The ashes use smaller plots and cost less than casket burial.


Place the ashes in a columbarium. A niche is a place in a columbary for storing funeral urns. Like a cemetery, this gives family and friends a place to visit the deceased.

Home Garden Burial

Bury them in a garden at your home. Most states allow for the burial of ashes at someone's home. Check with local zoning laws. The spot can be marked with a statue or monument. When you sell the house, you will either have to dig up the remains or disclose the presence of remains on the property.

Scattering Garden

Use a scattering garden. An alternative to a cemetery, a scattering garden has become a very popular choice. They provide a physical location for family and friends to gather, while creating a beautiful setting in nature. Many gardens have markers or memorials available.

Cremation Urn Ideas

Many families choose to store the ashes of their loved one in a cremation container called an urn. The urn can be placed in a columbarium, a mausoleum, or a vault. The urn is also used to store the ashes if a burial is desired. The urn also becomes a vessel that can be taken home.

Companion Urns

These urns are constructed in such a way that two urns are actually made as a part of the unit. It makes the perfect setting for married couples or companions.

Keepsake Urns

These urns can be made from metals, wood, or glass and can become a way to memorialize your loved one through creative arts. The urn can be a central object in the decoration of a room.

Vase Urns

If flowers or candles have been a part of your life or the life of your loved one, a vase urn provides a compartment for the ashes and holders for flowers or a candle on top.

Hourglass Urns

These special urns are just glass urns filled with a person's cremated remains in place of sand. They come in a variety of sizes from large table or shelf pieces to small pendants. The sizes give you opportunities to share the remains with several family members.

Mortuary urn on table in room

Go Green With Cremains

A concern for many families is that the process of storing or scattering the cremation ashes remains sensitive to the needs of the environment. Here are several suggestions that blend the process of honoring the loved one with concerns for nature and the environment.

Plant a Tree

A unique, biodegradable urn contains a mixture of soil and seed atop the ashes. Planting the urn, along with time and care will allow the growth and development of a maple, beech, ash, ginkgo, or pine tree. The tree becomes a lasting memorial and tribute for your loved one.

Mix the Ashes in a Potted Plant

Choose a plant that grows easily and is suited for the place where you will be keeping it. There are special kits that offer a compost mix for flowers, plants, and trees.

Scatter at a National Park

Many of the national parks allow for the scattering of ashes. There are guidelines that have to be checked, and lots of paperwork that must be completed, but the setting provides a spectacular resting place for your loved one.

Scatter at Sea

Many boating companies offer a scattering at sea service for cremated ashes. Family and friends can travel on the ship and watch the ceremony. A biodegradable urn is used which floats, sinks, and then dissolves scattering the ashes into the water.

Scattering Cremated Ashes

Creative Arts for Cremains

A desire of many families in the process of storing or using the ashes from cremation revolves around something personal that would express the creativity and interests of the deceased and the family. Here are a few innovative ways to incorporate personal interests into using cremation ashes.

Have the Ashes Infused in Glass

There are dozens of companies that will use the ashes of your loved one as a part of their glass-blowing process. You can select a design from their stock photos or create a design of your own.

Press Them Into a Vinyl

Companies will press your loved one's ashes into a record that plays a personal message, reads a will, or delivers a custom musical soundtrack. You also have creative control of the album cover.

Ashes Can Be Used by a 3D Printer

With the 3D technology, the urn is custom made into almost anything that you can imagine from a sculpture featuring a likeness of the deceased to your loved one's favorite car. A ceramic or plastic piece is formed from a material containing the ashes.

Use the Ashes in Stained Glass

The beauty of stained glass can be made to include the ashes of your loved one. The glass window can be used as a wall decoration or can be made to actually fit a window frame in the home.

Send Ashes on the Go

Many families have special places they have visited, or the deceased had a "bucket list" of places they wanted to go. The portability of the ashes opens several opportunities for travel to be a part of the memorial process.

Travel the World

Most airlines will allow travel with an urn, so you and your loved one can finally visit those places on your bucket list. Several touring companies have made arrangements so that bits of ashes can be scattered in other countries if desired. The trip provides a lasting memory and allows a celebration with meaningful destinations.

Up, Up and Away

Several companies promise to send your loved ones into the heavens through the power of helium balloons. Following the memorial services, the remains are placed inside large balloons and released. Once the balloon reaches a certain height, it bursts and the ashes are scattered. Some companies provide video taping of the event.

Coral Reef

There are several companies that turn the ashes of your loved one into a molded design that replicates the reefs in the ocean. The fabricated reefs are used to replace damaged or destroyed areas. They become a natural habitat for many species of marine life.

Family with urn spreading ashes

Keep Ashes at Home

Though not for everyone, many people like the comfort and convenience of continuing to have the loved one present at the home. Here are several ways to make use of the ashes so they can be kept inside the house.


Believe it or not, about 240 pencils can be made from the carbon of the body after cremation. Each pencil is stamped with the name of the deceased. The pencils are packed in a beautiful box. Only one pencil can be removed at a time. When it is placed back in the box, the pencil is automatically sharpened. Eventually the box contains nothing but shavings and becomes an urn.

Make Ceramic Cups and Mugs

Cremation ashes can be used to make coffee mugs, plates, and other kitchen ware. The ceramics are decorated with a glaze that contains the ashes of the loved one.

Transform Ashes Into Works of Art

Creating art from cremation ashes is becoming very popular, especially to make a portrait of the loved one. Artists can mix the ashes into the paint. The portrait can be hung in a prominent place in the house.

Put Them in a Huggable Teddy Bear

Several companies can provide a plush bear which holds an urn which holds a portion of the loved one's remains. Some find this a very comforting option, and the idea increases in popularity each year.

Place the Remains in a Book Cremation Urn

They say that people lose themselves in books. For those who loved to read, or if books and a home library is a part of your heritage, a book cremation urn may be the best way to memorialize your loved one.

Have a Blast

If your loved one had a tendency to do things "over the top," here are some ideas for using the ashes in a way that create a spectacular celebration.

Shooting Fireworks

There are several companies that will use your loved one's ashes as they produce a variety of aerial fireworks. The spectacular explosions spread their ashes and create an event that celebrates their life.

Shoot the Ashes Out of a Cannon

An ash-scattering cannon has been made that can create a spectacular ceremony and send-off. The device can shoot the remains more than seventy feet into the air. The explosion disperses the ashes in a way that will make a memorable experience for all in attendance.

Rocket Them Into Outer Space

Few of us will make it to the moon, but you can send ashes into space for a burial. Companies will launch the remains of your loved one into Earth's orbit, a lunar orbit or into deep space. Reserve early because their launches are sporadic.

Use a Burning Vessel

The tradition of burning a ship at sea practiced by the ancient Vikings can be your choice for the service at sea. Companies produce a Viking ship replica and let the ship sail at sunset.

Carry Them With You

Some people like the idea of having a part of the loved one with them at all times. Here are ways that the ashes from cremation can be a personal part of the life of the family left behind.

Turn Ashes to Diamonds

Since people are all made of carbon, there are several companies that will work with you over an eight to ten-month period that will purify the ashes and produce a diamond. You can choose the size, color and cut. It can be tuned into a stone that can be set in a number of pieces of jewelry.

Use Them in a Tattoo

People have been tattooing the names of loved ones on their arms for years. Today's tattoos can use pictures and be turned into works of art. A tattoo artist can mix your loved one's ashes in with the ink. You can carry them with you for the rest of your life.

Wear Them as Jewelry

Glass blowers can turn remains into an ash bead, resembling a miniature ornament. The pieces can be incorporated into necklaces, chains and bracelets.

Wear a Cremation Ring

A cremation ring is a combination of the ashes of the loved one and metal and clear glass. Each ring is handmade and several colors are available.

Remembering With Respect

At a time when so many decisions need to be made because of the passing of a loved one, what to do with cremation ashes does not have to create concern or problems. There are many ways to remember your loved one and the final memorials in a way that expresses the personality and interests of your family.

25 Creative Ideas of What to Do With Cremation Ashes