If you’re wondering, “Why is a casket needed when it’s going to be cremated?“, we have the answer for you.
We will cover the options: cremation container, rental casket, or traditional burial casket. You’ll learn the most affordable method and how to make the best choice.
Note: In this article, we use the word “casket” and “coffin” interchangeably. To find out how their meanings differ, you can read this comprehensive article.
What Is A Cremation Casket?
A cremation casket is simply the vessel used to cremate a body.
While a traditional burial casket is an option for cremation, it is not required. All that is required is a cremation container.
A cremation container does not have to be a casket with pillows, velvet interiors, and lacquered finishes. The three major requirements for a cremation container are to be combustible, non-toxic, and enclosed.
The container must be rigid, leak-proof, enclosed, and combustible. There is no need for a elaborate interior or decorations.
In lieu of a rigid container, another option is to use a burial shroud. A burial shroud is simply a blanket-like wrapping to enclose the body.
If you wish to cremate a loved one in a traditional casket with full interiors and elegant finishes, you’re free to do so. You just have to make sure the casket you’ve chosen is combustible and has minimal metal parts. Before you buy, ask if the casket is suitable for cremation (no metal screws, for example).
In conclusion, cremation caskets, shrouds, and containers must enclose the body and be made of combustible materials. Common materials include cardboard, pine, bamboo, cloth, or hardwood.
Why Do I Need A Casket For Cremation?
As stated before, the minimum requirements for cremation is a container that is combustible and enclosed.
This is because the operators need to move the body around the crematorium. They also need to protect themselves for health and safety reasons. Most importantly, having a way to carry the body allows for the dignified handling of the deceased.
So yes, cremation caskets and containers will do. But you don’t need a casket. Burial shrouds are also effective alternatives.
Casket Options For Cremation
There are a many options for cremation caskets and containers. Factors to consider include:
- Viewing, Visitation, or Wake
Listed below are a few of the most popular cremation choices.
The least expensive option for a cremation casket is a cardboard container. This is the minimum alternative to a casket.
It is highly combustible material and low-cost. Further, it has no interiors and is very plain in design. Because of this, cardboard containers are usually not suitable for viewing. They are ideal for cremations only.
- Extremely Low Cost
- Extremely Accessible
- Not Suitable for Viewing
Pine box caskets are typically used in green burials but are still ideal for cremation. In addition, this casket usually has no metal pieces.
Aside from meeting all the minimum requirements for a cremation container, a pine casket is fairly inexpensive in contrast to other casket types. It also can work for viewings.
- Low to Medium Cost
- Can be Suitable for Viewing
Bamboo and other wicker caskets are eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives to traditional burial caskets. They are also ideal for cremations.
The simple and natural finish of a bamboo casket makes it suitable for viewings. Bamboo and willow caskets are presentable for visitations or a wake before the cremation.
- Low to Medium Cost
- Suitable for Viewing
Cloth-covered caskets make good cremation caskets because of their combustible materials. Underneath the cloth covering, they can be made of corrugated fiberboards, pressed wood, or cardboard.
Some cloth covered caskets—such as the handles in the picture above—are made of steel. Ask if your choice can be used for cremation before you buy.
The finish of this casket looks sophisticated because of its interiors and patterned covers. For an extremely affordable price, you can have a casket available in various colors and designs.
- Low to Medium Cost
- Suitable for Viewing
Traditional Wooden Casket
A traditional burial casket with fine linings, elegant finishes, and full interiors can also be a used as a cremation casket. They must be wooden and must have little to no metal pieces. Ask before you buy if it is suitable for cremation.
This type of casket is ideal for families who want to hold funeral ceremonies for their deceased loved ones. It’s also fit for those who want the beautiful coffins to be cremated with the bodies.
- Medium to High Cost
- Ideal for Viewing
Rental Casket For Cremation
You can also rent caskets if you want to arrange a funeral service prior to the cremation. Rental caskets are usually beautiful coffins with ornate designs. Because of this, they are best for viewings and ceremonies.
- Low to Medium Cost
- Ideal for Viewing
Rental options require a separate cremation container because, of course, the rental casket is not cremated. Often this is a simple cardboard option, commonly included in the price of the rental.
How Renting A Casket Works
A rental casket has a removable inner container or liner. This is what holds the body and keeps it separate from the rental casket. After the service, they will remove the inner container and then transfer it to the crematorium. What will be left is the “outer shell,” or the rental casket itself, which can be reused multiple times.
Rental caskets are great for individuals looking to plan a large funeral on a small budget. In addition, rental caskets are environmentally-friendly as well. There is no need to cremate or bury a new casket; just the removable container.
How Much Is a Cremation Casket?
The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) offers helpful data on the average costs for cremation caskets in 2019:
Of course, the actual cost will still vary depending on preferences and added options. Where you will buy or rent the cremation casket can also affect the final price.
Trivia: In 2019, the national average cost of a funeral with viewing and cremation was $5,150. The cost of the cremation casket is not yet added to this figure. You can read more about the NFDA statistics report.
Where Do I Purchase a Casket for Cremation?
Cremation caskets and containers are available in a wide variety of types and materials. Similarly, there is also a wide range of casket sellers that you can choose from.
Your funeral provider can arrange a cremation casket for you. Many funeral homes offer rental services, and almost all have an inexpensive cremation container option (normally cardboard).
Open a dialogue with your local funeral director. Inform yourself and those making the decisions. We recommend asking for a general price list (which includes all the casket options offered by the funeral home, which is required by the Funeral Law), and ask specifically for each of the options described above.
The type of casket that you choose should reflect personal preference. In a difficult time to make decisions, you want to avoid being influenced by any one salesperson or persuaded to make choices for the wrong reason. Whether you settle on the finest mahogany or opt for a basic cardboard box, just remember there is no right answer—this is a personal choice. It’s your call.
Independent Casket Retailers
In addition to buying direct from the funeral home, you can also purchase a cremation casket from an independent retailer. First, check if there is a casket shop in your area. After you find one, browse through their available cremation caskets and see if they have a competitive selection compared to your funeral home.
Online Casket Sellers
If you don’t want to buy from a funeral home or there is no independent casket seller near you, the next option is to shop online.
Online casket sellers can offer the same top quality caskets you can buy in funeral homes. And most likely at significantly lower prices.
If you’re planning to arrange a funeral service before the cremation, make sure to check if the online retailers offer rentals. You can save a lot of money while still ensuring that you have a presentable coffin for your loved one during the ceremony.
Tip: You can always buy a casket outside of your funeral home. The Federal Trade Commission requires your funeral provider to accept it and cannot charge you any fees for doing so. They also cannot require you to be present upon the delivery of the casket to the funeral home.
Virtually any type of casket (or coffin) that is combustible and non-toxic. At the very least, you can use a burial shroud or cardboard container that is covered and combustible. Other options include pine box caskets, wicker caskets, and traditional hardwood caskets. You can even rent one from a funeral home.
In a practical sense, a casket, or at least a container, is needed to transport the body in a hearse. It is also used to move the deceased around the crematorium easily and safely. Lastly, it maintains dignity in handling the deceased. (Burial shrouds are a casket-alternative, a blanket-like wrapping for the body.)
If you’re referring to a traditional burial coffin, then yes, you can be buried without a casket. Instead, you can be cremated in a burial shroud or cremation container. A cremation container is something rigid, covered, leak-proof, and combustible—like a simple cardboard box. A burial shrouds is a sheet that wraps around the body, sometimes with handles. Take note that the body must be enclosed when cremated.
The casket, regardless if it’s wood or cardboard, combusts completely during cremation. Because of this, what’s left will just be the bone fragments of the deceased (and sometimes other inorganic materials that did not burn up completely).
It depends. Some crematoriums will allow this. But in most cases, they will not. For safety reasons, they will have to remove all items that may damage the equipment. These include batteries, sealed liquids, glass, and metal objects.
If you leave any personal items such as jewelry or watches, they will be removed and returned to you before cremation. It is best to talk to your funeral director if you wish to leave something for the cremation.
The cheapest option for a cremation casket is a cardboard container. It meets all the minimum requirements for a container and is low-cost compared to all other types of caskets.
Bodies may be cremated wearing clothes. The clothes will be cremated as well, of course. This is completely optional, and often the loved one will be cremated in the clothes they were wearing when they passed away.
The answer is no. This article by Simon Marlow provides a thorough explanation as to why, but that short answer is that crematoriums are not permitted to cremate any tissue or limb from a currently living organism.
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