If you are looking for a simple, affordable, and eco-friendly coffin, a pine casket (or pine box) is your best option.
Here we have gathered everything you need to know about pine caskets: source material, price range, benefits, where you can buy one, and how you can make one yourself.
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 to caskets vs coffins.
What Is a Pine Casket?
A pine casket is a traditional and inexpensive option for coffins because of its plain design. These caskets are sourced from the wood of pine trees and are cheaper than coffins made of either wood and steel. Moreover, pine caskets have cultural significance for both religious and economic use.
Wooden caskets have two different types: those made of softwood (where pine trees belong) and hardwood (the more expensive option).
- Hardwood – This is the type of solid wood from flowering trees. It typically includes walnut, maple, and oak trees. Hardwood is usually heavyweight and harder than softwood.
- Softwood – This comes from conifer and evergreen trees that produce cones needle-shaped leaves. Softwood trees include spruce and pine trees. This wood is generally lighter and softer compared to hardwood.
Caskets that are made of pine trees are generally less expensive because their wood type is common. Pine caskets usually have no exteriors, final coating, linings, and other accessories—as opposed to modern caskets that are elaborate, with metallic decorations and varnish.
If you want a more decorated casket that still has a wooden feel, read our article about caskets made from barn wood.
Why Choose a Pine Box Casket?
There are many benefits in using a pine casket for your funeral service. They include…
- Low Cost
The one situation in which pine caskets are not best is if you plan to have a wake, viewing, or visitation. Compared to hardwood (even veneer) or steel caskets, even more expensive pine boxes are plain and stark.
A pine box is the perfect choice for you or your loved one if…
- You do not prioritize the visual appearance of the coffin
- You are looking for something simple and economical
- You want something Green and biodegradable
Learn more about different types of caskets and compare prices of those different prices using our compendium of casket prices (plus a price calculator tool).
Pine Box Cremation Caskets
Because pine caskets are wooden and relativity inexpensive, they are a popular choice to use as a cremation container. While it may be strange to think that you need a casket to be cremated, it is necessary to respectfully handle a body. They range from simple shrouds to caskets much more elaborate than pine boxes. Read the article to learn more.
A pine casket is cheap because it is made of inexpensive wood material. Other caskets such as ones made of mahogany, bronze, or copper can cost up to $10,000 (Federal Trade Commission).
Nicer pine coffins are almost always cheaper than even the plainest steel or hardwood coffins.
Notice the seam in the wood above (the one that divides the top panel into two halves). That is a half couch casket, which is uncommon for simpler pine caskets.
Pine caskets are now at the frontier of green and natural burial (one that is simple and environment-friendly). It is a great alternative to bedecked caskets that are mass-produced by large manufacturing plants.
Another great option for a green casket is wicker coffins.
According to the Green Burial Council, U.S. cemeteries consume over 20 million board feet of hardwood and 90,000 tons of steel for caskets alone each year. Adding to that, the manufacturing of burial vaults use up to 17,000 tons of steel and copper, as well as 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete.
“Traditional burial produces 250 lbs. of carbon, whereas green burial sequesters 25 lbs. of carbon.” (Green Burial Council)
“This assumes a 50 year life cycle of the plot, that traditional burial uses a concrete burial vault, and green burial has no maintenance (mowing, fertilizing, watering, etc.). To put this in context, this difference is equivalent to the carbon produced by an average American’s driving over a 3 month period.” (Green Burial Council)
Because pine caskets use fewer resources, they are more sustainable for the environment. Pine trees are also abundant in the U.S. and grow faster than alternative trees.
I’ll tell you what I really want — it’s very easy: Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. I want a plain pine box. No, not plywood with all the glue and formaldehyde. I want a plain wooden box, one that will return naturally to the soil, as I’d like to do…That’s the way I want to go — that’s the way I want to come back again — as nourishment for a beckoning flower.– Lisa Carlson, 1994
How Much Does a Pine Coffin Cost?
For a basic pine casket, prices start around $500. From there, finishing touches—including interior lining, bedding, or any personalizing—all add to the price. Still, this is far cheaper than the average price of caskets which is a little more than $2,000.
Where to Buy Pine Caskets
You can buy caskets almost anywhere (or even build one yourself). As with all caskets, we recommend buying one online.
We recommend Titan Casket, if you can’t find a local option. We like them for many reasons, including great prices, quality products, free shipping, extremely easy purchasing process, and their caskets are made in the USA.
Titan Eco I
Titan Eco II
Titan’s Eco Series is suitable for green and Jewish funerals.
Though relatively new to the market, there are also more sophisticated pine boxes—half couch and absolutely suitable for a funeral service and viewing.
According to the FTC Funeral Rule, a funeral home cannot refuse a casket you bought elsewhere—may it be from a local casket store, an online shop, or anywhere else.
If you want the most convenient way to purchase a casket, this can be arranged by the funeral provider handling the burial services. However, funeral homes rarely display pine caskets. The best thing to do is to ask specifically for pine coffins.
They also cannot charge you any fee if you do so, or require you to be present upon the casket’s delivery to them.
Tip: More on The Funeral Rule, one of its provisions is that the funeral director is required to provide you a price list first before showing you the sample caskets. This helps you to choose according to your budget. This is also a good opportunity to ask to see the pine box first.
By commissioning a local woodworker to make a simple pine casket, you can have it customized according to your liking.
Some casket-makers can add shelves to the coffin so it can be turned into a bookcase until its final use. Other woodworkers also make use of fallen trees and repurpose them accordingly.
Tapping a woodworker to build your casket gives you more freedom to choose the design, materials, and cost while also supporting your local community.
You can freely buy caskets apart from the funeral provider. In this digital age, online retailers of caskets have become widespread. Even Costco and Walmart offer competitive prices for caskets.
A large number of website means you can browse online for pine coffins and check available options according to your budget. We recommend starting at Titan Caskets, specifically their pine offering. You can also have it directly shipped to your funeral home for your convenience.
Tip: Sometimes, a funeral provider will recommend you should be present when the coffin you bought elsewhere is delivered to the funeral home, adding that it is a precautionary measure for when a casket arrives with damages. This is unnecessary.
Double-check if the combined price of the casket you want to buy online and the delivery charges would still cost less than buying from a local casket retailer.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
You can always build a coffin yourself if you want to. You can search online for guides on how to build your own pine box from scratch. There are also DIY kits if you want more structure. They make it surprisingly easy assemble a pine casket of your own.
Many families find the process of building a casket is an effective way to grieve.
Before the people got used to living in the 20th century, caskets looked simpler. They were handmade by the local carpenter or sourced from the furniture store.
It was also during these times when funeral arrangements were straightforward and low-cost. The funeral took place at the home of the deceased. The majority of these plain handmade caskets were made of cheap pine. Times were simpler.
Culturally and historically, pine caskets are attributed to budget coffins that people use if they cannot afford a more expensive material.
Individuals looking to show off their wealth would have coffins made of yew or mahogany with ornate decorations, fine lining, and velvet drapes.
Pine Caskets in Jewish Funerals
In the Jewish culture, the deceased is usually buried in a plain wooden box. The purpose of this religious tradition allows for natural decomposition.
That’s why the casket should be completely biodegradable (which means no metal nails or handles). Pine caskets are usually described as “kosher” caskets, ones that are suitable for Jewish funerals.
If you’re planning to use a pine box casket for a Jewish funeral, double check the product description to make sure they don’t include steel nails.
It is a casket sourced from the wood of pine trees. It is usually simple and plain in design and is much cheaper than others made of hardwood and metal.
A pine casket can cost about $500 and up depending on its finish. It is inexpensive because it’s made of cheap softwood material—as opposed to the more expensive hardwood counterpart sourced from sturdier trees such as mahogany and oak.
Pine trees are good resources to build caskets because it is a cheap and common wood. They are also highly renewable and abundant in the U.S. Because it is a sustainable material, those who opt for green burials choose pine boxes as their casket. It is also a good option for Jewish funerals that require simple wooden coffins.
You can buy one from your funeral provider, third-party retailers, online retailers, as well as from your local woodworker. You can also build your own pine casket using DIY guides available online.
Thanks for reading! We hope you find this helpful. If you have suggestions, or feedback, send us an email at email@example.com.
Is there a difference why some Jews want a solid pine coffin and not pressed pine wood?
That’s a great question which I had to do some digging to solve. As a caveat, I am not Jewish. However, as best I understand it pressed wood utilizes adhesives, which may not meet the standards of what a kosher casket is. It must be completely wood, nontoxic, and biodegradable. The HUD sets standards (in the US) about using certain chemicals that do not meet these standards in plywood and particleboard, such as formaldehyde, implying that these are indeed included in some adhesives for some pressed woods.