How to divide human ashes and fill keepsake urns

How to divide human ashes and fill keepsake urns is a common question many families ask.  But first comes collecting the ashes.

Receiving your departed loved one’s ashes

Losing a loved one brings with it many challenges.  Collecting a departed loved one’s ashes (cremains) is challenging for most people.  Knowing what to expect can help.

The funeral home or crematorium hand over ashes in a heavy duty plastic bag inside a sturdy cardboard box, plastic box, or plastic temporary urn. On the box is an identification label and inside the certificate of cremation. This certificate must remain with the ashes or be kept in a safe place.  You can either arrive with your own urn or buy one from the funeral home.

Purchasing a funeral cremation urn online

Funeral homes and crematoriums sell cremation urns. Many people buy cremation urns online because of lower prices and a larger range of cremation urns to choose from.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule specifies that: The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else — or charge you a fee to do it. The funeral home cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to them.”

Transferring human ashes (cremains) into a display urn

The options for transferring the ashes into the display urn are:

  • Request the funeral home or crematorium do it
  •  Place the original ashes bag inside the display urn without opening it
  • Pour the ashes into the display cremation urn, scattering urn, keepsake urn or into memorial jewelry.

Cremains (ashes) are safe and do not present a health hazard. But like any substance with fine particulates, avoid inhalation. 

How to divide human ashes (cremains)

Cremains are not like ashes from a wood fire. Human cremains range from fine sugar-like granules to a kitty litter texture.

Many families buy a large display urn and several mini keepsake urns or ashes jewelry.
If you need to transfer ashes from the original plastic bag into a cremation display urn or smaller keepsake urn, follow these guidelines.


Display urn (correct size) & keepsakes
Flat level work surface (protected from wind/breeze)
Newspaper or protective sheet or towel (to catch spills)
Large opening and small opening funnel
Clear glue (optional)
Gloves (optional)

Spread newspaper over the work surface
Place urn on the newspaper
Open the urn lid
Rest the funnel in the urn opening
Take the original plastic ashes bag. (Check the seal and secure if needed.) 
Snip one corner (to create an opening – like an icing/piping bag)
Hold the bag over the funnel 
Pour ashes into the funnel to fill the display urn.
Secure the urn lid tight. (Add clear glue to seal for extra peace of mind.)

For keepsake urns and ashes jewelry use a smaller funnel.

Most mini keepsake urns and jewelry available on Amazon come with a free ashes funnel kit.


Transferring cremains into a display urn or smaller keepsake urns will raise many  emotions. Ask a family member or close friend to help.

Imagine too that your departed loved one is looking down from Above and nodding with approval. What you’re doing is a beautiful gesture. With their own keepsake urn, each family member can honor your loved one in their own special way.

No two people arrive at closure the same way. Give yourself permission to do what feels right in your heart.

Our sincere condolences for your loss.

How to Fill Keepsake Urns

Curl paper into a cone or use the funnel supplied in your ashes filler kit.

Snip cone to make funnel opening

Insert funnel into the keepsake urn and fill with small amount of ash.

Replace the lid and secure. Use clear drying glue on the seal for added peace of mind. 

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