One of the important things to consider in buying a casket is the weight. It determines how many persons are needed to carry the casket (called pallbearers) and it determines how much weight it can hold.
Note: Caskets and coffins mean different things.
How Much Does a Casket Weigh?
The average casket weight is about 200 pounds. It can weigh up to 450 pounds or more depending on the structure, material, and size of the casket.
For burials at sea, the EPA recommends the casket weigh at least 300 pounds (136 kg). If the casket is less, they recommend adding sand or concrete.
Most often, high-end caskets weigh much more than the inexpensive types. For metal caskets, the high-end options are those made of bronze or copper.
For wooden caskets, the expensive and heavier types are those made of hardwood such as mahogany, cherry, and walnut. (Pine caskets are lighter weight.)
How Heavy Is A Casket When Carried by Pallbearers?
The 200-pound average weight of a casket does not include the body weight.
The average weight that pallbearers carry is the sum of the casket weight and body weight. The average adult male body weighs about 198 pounds while an average female adult body weighs about 171 pounds. With this, pallbearers would have to carry about 370 to 400 pounds for a standard casket with an average-sized body.
Some caskets are much heavier.
Casket Weight vs. Casket Capacity
There are two classes of weight to consider: the weight of the casket itself and the weight capacity (how much load the casket can bear).
There is no standard weight for a casket. While the standard casket weighs about 200 pounds, it can still vary depending on its material and construction. Casket weight varies a lot depending on the manufacturer as well.
Weight Capacity of the Casket
For the casket weight capacity, most of the standard caskets can hold up to 500 pounds. However, the weight capacity can still vary depending on the material of the casket and its size.
For instance, a wicker or cardboard casket may have less capacity than metal and wooden ones. And oversize caskets can hold significantly heavier weight than other casket sizes.
Northwoods Caskets did an experiment to test how much weight their caskets could hold. They used patio blocks and achieved 1400 pound weight loads before they called it off.
Casket Weight According to Material
Overall casket weight is often determined by the material used. Common casket materials are metal and wood, and there are several other types under these two categories. Other popular caskets are made of bronze and copper, stainless steel, pine, and wicker.
Wooden caskets can be made of hardwood or softwood. Hardwood caskets are usually heavier than softwood caskets because hardwood is denser, sturdier, and a hardier material.
|Wood Type||Example Types||Casket Weight||Weight Capacity|
|High-end hardwood||mahogany, cherry, walnut||240 to 285 pounds||500 pounds|
|Mid-range hardwood||birch, maple, walnut||165 to 215 pounds||500 pounds|
|Low-range softwood||pine, poplar, cottonwood, tulip tree, willow||95 to 150 pounds||350 pounds|
The high-end hardwoods are mahogany, cherry, and walnut. The midrange kinds of hardwood are birch, maple, and walnut.
Meanwhile, caskets made of softwood are usually pine, poplar, cottonwood, tulip tree, and willow, which are generally less expensive.
A high-end hardwood casket made of walnut or mahogany will weigh from 240 to 285 pounds. A mid-range hardwood casket weighs about 165 to 215 pounds. Almost all hardwood caskets have a maximum capacity of up to 500 pounds.
Meanwhile, a simple pine casket made of low-cost softwood usually weighs about 95 to 150 pounds. They can only carry up to 350 pounds of weight.
Metal caskets are the most popular type of casket and are most often made of steel, stainless steel, bronze, or copper.
|Type of Metal Casket||Casket Weight||Weight Capacity|
|Copper and Bronze Caskets||260 to 310 pounds||500 pounds|
|Steel and Stainless Caskets||170 to 220 pounds||500 pounds|
A bronze or copper casket weighs about 260 to 310 pounds, while steel caskets only weigh about 170 to 220 pounds.
Almost all metal caskets have a maximum capacity of 500 pounds.
Bronze and copper are more dense than steel or stainless steel. This is why bronze and copper caskets usually weigh more than steel caskets despite having the same dimensions.
Also, metal caskets are usually measured by gauge, which is simply the measurement of the thickness of the metal. They are often available in 16 to 20 gauges. The lower the gauge, the thicker the metal. Of course, this also means the lower the gauge, the heavier the casket.
Note: Measuring the gauge for bronze and copper caskets depend on the weight and not the thickness of the material.
These caskets are made of eco-friendly and natural materials such as bamboo, seagrass, willow, and banana leaf. They are hand-woven, biodegradable, and non-toxic.
|Casket Weight||Weight Capacity|
|66 to 110 pounds||190 to 350 pounds|
Wicker caskets are very lightweight, weighing about 66 to 110 pounds. However, they are still durable and secure. A wicker casket can hold up to 190 to 350 pounds of load depending on the manufacturer.
Another lightweight and biodegradable casket type is a cardboard casket. This casket is usually reserved for cremations and green burials.
|Casket Weight||Weight Capacity|
|20 to 80 pounds||350 pounds|
A cardboard casket only weighs about 20 to 80 pounds, but it can carry up to 350 pounds depending on the casket manufacturer.
Casket Weight According to Size
Aside from the material, the size also determines the weight of a casket. Obviously, larger caskets will weigh heavier than standard-sizes.
A standard casket has an average exterior dimension of 84 inches in length by 29 inches of width. This will fit an average-sized adult body.
Standards caskets usually weigh about 180 to 220 pounds depending on material. They have a maximum load of up to 500 pounds. This is usually the standard weight of steel caskets which are the most popular type of casket in the US.
Oversize and Double Oversize Casket
An oversized casket is designed to hold larger bodies that cannot fit in standard sized caskets. Typical over-sized interiors measure 83 inches long and 28 inches wide. They weigh between 220 to 280 pounds with a maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds.
Double oversize caskets that are larger than oversize caskets can measure 44 inches wide. The actual weight of a double oversized casket is 330 pounds, and its capacity reaches up to 800 pounds.
Children & Infant Casket
Children’s caskets are significantly smaller in size with interior dimensions measuring 60 inches long and 11 inches wide. They are much lighter than a standard size coffin and weight capacity is usually 150 to 220 pounds.
Do Caskets and Coffins Weigh the Same?
There is virtually no difference between casket and coffin weight.
The only visible difference between the two is shape. A casket is rectangular with four sides, whereas a coffin is hexagonal with six sides.
Because of its rectangular shape, a casket has more empty spaces inside. This might contribute a slight difference in weight compared with a coffin, but it would hardly be noticeable—if at all.
A standard casket meant for average adult bodies weighs about 200 pounds. The actual weight of a casket will vary depending on material, size, and furnishings.
A metal casket made of steel weighs approximately 170 to 220 pounds. For high-end metal caskets made of bronze or copper, weight can be 260 to 310 pounds. Almost all metal caskets can carry up to 500 pounds of maximum load.
The weight of wood caskets depends on the type of wood, as well as its overall design and construction. For instance, a hardwood casket made of walnut or mahogany weighs about 240 to 285 pounds. A mid-range hardwood casket made of birch, maple, or walnut weighs about 165 to 215 pounds. A simple softwood casket made of pine weighs about 95 to 150 pounds.
Hardwood caskets are usually heavier than softwood caskets because hardwood is denser, sturdier, and hardier material.
Yes. Although cardboard caskets are extremely lightweight (weighing only about 20 to 80 pounds), they are still durable and secure. A cardboard casket can carry up to 350 pounds depending on the manufacturer.
The total weight pallbearers have to carry is the combined weight of the casket and the body. If a standard casket weighs about 200 pounds and an adult body weighs about 170 pounds (female) to 200 pounds (male), then pallbearers will have to carry 370 to 400 pounds of load.
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Thank you very much for the excellent overview! For completeness, one might point to a few extra heavy exceptions: the empty weight of the solid mahogany Batesville Marsellus Masterpiece (chosen for President Reagan‘s burial) is around 450 lbs. For the original predecessor Marsellus # 700 an optional inner bronze liner with bronze or oval plate glass lid was available which added approximately 150 to 200 lbs, meaning a total empty weight of 600 lbs or so. The weight of the 4″ mahogany urn made by Mastercraft (also available with inner bronze liner) should be similar. Around 600 lbs would have been also the empty weight of electrolytic deposited copper or bronze casket manufactured by Boyertown or by the National Casket Co until the 1970s; some models featuring a full casket-within-a-casket (not only a double or, in case of glass sealers, triple lid) reached almost 800 lbs. The ultimate challenge to the pallbearers are cast bronze caskets (like the Pharaoh Sarcophagus offered by the Matthews Company at least until a few years ago) because they weigh between 1000 and 1200 lbs empty.