Guide to Cremation Urns

A short guide to help families understand what a cremation urn is and what different types of urn there are.

What is a Cremation Urn?

Simply, an urn is a container which holds the cremains of a person. A cremation urn has been designed for this main purpose but most will also have a secondary purpose. This could be for decoration, water burial, scattering or even jewelry. More information on the different types of urns will be down below.

What are the Different Kinds of Urns?

There are many varieties but most can be broken down into 2 styles. They are decorative and practical. Decorative urns will serve the purpose of being visually appealing. Perhaps it can be for a garden, or as a mantle piece. Practical urns on the other hand will have a function. It could be as an urn designed to break apart in the soil, or perhaps it could be jewelry. There are a full range of different urns and types of urns.

How Important is Sizing?

This can be a confusing aspect for some families. There are 2 sizes for urns, the exterior and the internal. The exterior size is most important for ensuring that an urn fits into a niche in a cemetery or for a placement in another way. If an urn is too large for a niche, most organisations will require you to source a new urn. The same may happen if it is too small.

Then there is the internal size. The internal size determines exactly how much cremains can be housed in the urn. The amount of cremains which remain after a cremation is affected by several variables and thus it can be difficult to determine this immediately. As a general rule however, the larger the person, the more cremains. At Mountain View Crematoria most urns have an interior capacity of 3.6L which is enough in most cases. We do as well offer urns with a larger 4L capacity. 

The different Types of Urns

Urns can be widely categorised based upon their material. That is how they have been separated here:



We have found that metal urns are the most commonly used by families at MVC. These urns are very versatile in terms of shape, design and durability. The main metals used include: Brass, Stainless Steel and Aluminum (alloy).


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Like metal urns, ceramic urns come in all shapes and sizes. These vary from designer productions to more standard designs. Ceramic offers flexibility in purpose as well as the material can be shaped into many different designs. These urns are often durable and have a high degree of flexibility in terms of final design.


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Wood is often a stylistic choice due to the colouring and pattern of the material. It can also conjure different feelings for families if the loved one had a connection to nature or woodworking. These are often treated for durability, come in a wide variety of shapes and designs, and can serve several different purposes.


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Urns which are made of glass are often relatively fragile, making them better suited for decoration but are very visually appealing. These urns are blown into a wide range of shapes and can be very colourful. Designs range from subdued to colourfully extravagant and can offer a very artistic feel.


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This is an intensive method of attaching material, often enamel, to a metal design. The result is beautiful and often unique. This is a historic method for creating beautiful designs and it brings a striking beauty to the cremation urns. Most often these urns are best suited for decoration as their designs may be damaged easily.


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For people with an emphasis on environmentally friendly options, biodegradable urns are created from environmentally sustainable materials and are biodegradable. These can be designed for a variety of purposes. Some examples include water burials, in which the urn floats momentarily and then sinks under the water to be naturally eroded away. Or urns which when placed into soil will naturally start to degrade.

Similar options are 'tree memorial' urns. These are biodegradable urns in which the ashes are placed inside and a tree will then grow out from the ashes. At MVC we use providers which can match the tree to the local area and ensure that is suits the growing conditions of your preferred location.


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In addition to Urns we are also able to provide jewellery which can contain a small portion of your loved ones cremains. This can range from everyday jewellery which doesn't appear different than a standard piece. There are also options for engravings or images to be added to the jewellery. 

Scattering Tubes

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Scattering tubes are for those that do not wish to keep the cremains of their loved one. Instead these tubes are specially designed to make it easy to spread the cremains of your loved one. In Australia approximately 70% of people will decide to scatter the cremains. The process of doing so is quite easy and the scattering tubes are available in a range of designs and sizes.

Questions and Advice

If you have any questions or you require advice, please feel free to contact our professional staff. You can do so on our website, using the email or by calling our phone line at (02) 4249 2221.

Other Information

At Mountain View Crematoria we are also open to the use of a homemade urn. These can provide a personal touch and create a further sense of connection. We will also work with urns from 3rd party sources. For the processing of the cremains into these other urns, we do however charge $44.