Collecting the Ashes:

what to expect

The process of opening an urn or box to retrieve your loved ones ashes can be an incredibly difficult task. This page will walk you through the steps of collecting your ashes, with photos of different styles of boxes and directions for opening them as well as photos of cremated remains. We hope this will help you bolster your courage to collect your ashes.

If you know you are not ready to go through this process (as many people are not) we encourage you to ask a friend, neighbor or co-worker. You would be surprised at how many people understand the importance of what you are asking and will be willing to help. Even bringing your urn or box to your local funeral home and asking for their assistance with this project is a great idea. You are surrounded by people waiting to help, you just need to ask.

Ashes range in color from pure white to cream to various shades of grey. They consist of fine soft ash and various textures and sizes of larger pieces. Occasionally you can see flecks of bright teal and coral colors. When collecting your ashes don't worry about the texture of what you collect as we will sift them through a fine mesh before incorporating them into the glass to ensure an even design.

Cremated Remains

ORIGINAL CARDBOARD CREMATION BOX-When ashes come back from the crematorium they are usually in a thick walled, white cardboard box. On the outside of the box is a label with the name of the deceased and the date of death. Once the box is open you will see a large plastic bag secured with a reusable zip tie so you can open and close the bag as many times as you need to. A metal tag is also attached to the tie and this is marked with a number.

Basic Carboard Remains Container

WOODEN BOX-This wooden box is similar to the style that your loved ones’ ashes may be in. There are usually four screws located on the bottom of the box. Turn the box upside down, remove the screws and lift the flat bottom off the box. The ashes will usually be securely contained in a plastic bag which will be either closed with a zip strap or a re-seal-able plastic zipper.

Wooden Urn
opening an urn

POTTERY/METAL URN-This style of urn is designed to be opened.  Most metal urns will have a screw top and most ceramic urns will have a small amount of glue holding the lid in place. The lid can usually be gently pried off with a knife. If the glue will not release, try swabbing the seal with nail polish remover to loosen the glue. The ashes inside may or may not be contained within a bag, depending on who filled the urn so take care when opening.

Retrieving Ashes