Let’s take a look at the different standard urn sizes. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right urn for your loved one.
There are two ways to measure the size of a cremation urn for ashes. First is the capacity, which measures the internal volume of the urn, and the second is the dimensions, which tells you the exterior length, width, and height of the urn.
1(a). Urn Capacity (Interior Size)
The most important detail regarding urn sizes will be the urn’s capacity. This means how much of the ashes the urn can hold.
Urn capacity is measured in cubic inches. That’s the length, width, and depth of the inside of the urn in inches.
For example, an urn with an interior measuring 8″ long by 5″ wide and 5″ tall will have a capacity of 200 cubic inches.
8 x 5 x 5 = 200
Since urns come in different shapes, the internal measurements aren’t always so simple (for instance, a vase-shaped design with rounded surfaces). Thus, we won’t give the internal measurements on the product page. Instead, we simply list the capacity in cubic inches.
1(b). Capacity Needed
So, what capacity do you need? Most often, you’ll need a capacity of about 200 cubic inches or less.
Here are a few ways you can figure the capacity you need:
Convert weight to cubic inches.
This is the simplest and most common method. Take the individual’s body weight, in pounds, and that is the number of cubic inches you’ll most likely need. So a person who weighed 185 lbs will require an urn with a capacity of 185 cubic inches or less.
Measure the ashes.
Measure the length, width, and height, in inches, of the ashes you have. (The remains will be in a durable plastic bag.) Multiply together to get the total cubic inches. This can easily be done by placing the remains into a box-like container, such as a cardboard box.
Measure the temporary urn
Most crematoriums will give you the cremated remains in a “temporary urn”. This is a plastic container which typically measures 8.5″ by 6.5″ by 4.5″. If your temporary urn is this size, it holds 200 cubic inches.
Ask the funeral director. Simply ask the funeral director and they’ll tell you what size urn you need. They’ll do this by #2 (measuring the ashes) or #3 (verifying that the ashes fit into a standard temporary urn).
2. Urn Dimensions (Exterior Size)
The second way to measure urn size is by the exterior dimensions. This is the widest, longest, and tallest outside edges of the urn.
Since many urns have decorative bases, accents, lids, or other embellishments, the exterior dimensions have little relation to the urn’s interior capacity.
But it is still important to know the actual exterior size of the urn. You may need to fit it into an urn vault for burial, into a niche in a columbarium, or maybe you just want to make sure it will fit onto your mantle. The product dimensions will tell you how much space is taken up by the urn for ashes.
Now that you know the basics, let’s take a look at urn sizes.
Standard Adult Urn Size
The industry standard capacity for an adult urn is 200 cubic inches.
Now, sometimes this varies a bit. Some items listed as “adult” or “standard size” urns can be more or less. We’ve seen urns described as “standard adult” from 150 cubic inches up to 250 cubic inches. So it’s important to actually look at the product details to be sure.
But 90% or more of the urns you see will be about 200 or even 220 cubic inches.
External measurements for any and all urns will vary considerably. But here’s a general idea of what you’ll see.
Box-type urns will often be rectangular, with the long side measuring 10-12 inches. The two shorter dimensions might be between 6-9 inches.
Vase-shaped urns will typically be around 9-13 inches tall. These urns will have a diameter of around 6-9, depending on how tall or squat they are.
Companion Urn Size
The industry standard capacity for a companion urn is 400 cubic inches.
A companion urn is just what it sounds like – a single urn designed to hold the ashes of two people.
This means that the inside should have approximately double the amount of a standard urns. Thus, these urns typically hold about 400 cubic inches of cremated remains.
Again, this can vary a bit. There are companion urns that hold as little as 350 cubic inches, and others that hold over 400 cubic inches. But, by and large, most companion urns are about 400 cubic inches in capacity.
Outside dimensions aren’t quite double the size of a standard adult single urn. Think 11-14 inches on the long side, and 8-10 inches on the two shorter sides.
Shop companion urns here.
Small Urn Sizes
Smaller urn sizes (inside and outside) will vary quite a bit. This is because there are many types of smaller urns.
“Keepsake” urns are designed to hold a small portion of the ashes.
This is so that family members can have a small portion as a “keepsake” token. Often this happens when the remains are buried or scattered, yet one or more family members want to keep some of the ashes.
Keepsake urns can hold as little as 1 cubic inch up to about 50 or so. Most often, keepsake urns hold around 5-20 cubic inches of remains.
Child or Infant Urns
Urns for small children are smaller than the adult sized urns, for obvious reasons. There are very small urns for infants and a range of sizes in between that and the standard adult sizes.
Infant urns can measure 10-20 cubic inches, while “Child” urns can measure anywhere between 10 and 150 cubic inches.
Pet cremation is very popular, especially for beloved family pets who have died. Dogs, for instance, can be as little as a few pounds to up over 150 lbs. This means that the sizes for pet urns, while most often smaller than the industry standard adult (human) size, will be made in a wide range of capacities.
Extra Large Cremation Urns
What if you need an urn that is larger than the standard adult size, yet you don’t quite need a companion urn?
There are some cremation urns made in various extra-large capacities, from 250 cubic inches to 300 and even 350 cubic inches. If you’re looking for one of these, give us a call and we’ll help you find the right one for you.
However, as we described above the actual exterior dimensions of most companion urns aren’t substantially bigger than the standard sizes. So most manufacturers don’t make in-between sizes. It’s simply easier and more cost efficient to jump from 200 cubic inches up to 400 in the companion size.
So if you’re looking for extra large cremation urns, we recommend checking out our selection of companion urns.