It’s difficult to make decisions when a loved one passes. You might find yourself needing to open a cremation urn that was sealed.

Here are tips for opening different types of cremation urns.

Why You Might Need to Open a Cremation Urn

Certain scenarios might present themselves that would cause you to need to open a cremation urn.

  • Your grandmother passes away. You would like to place her remains with those of your departed grandfather in the same urn or a companion urn with two separate compartments. However, your grandpa had his cremation urn sealed.
  • The family is arguing about the location of your loved one’s cremated remains and decide to divide them into multiple urns or keepsake urns.
  • A family member would like to grow a cremation diamond using a small portion of the remains.
  • You would like to use a different urn, to scatter using scattering tubes or scattering urns, to transfer the remains to a tree-urn for planting, or to transfer to a biodegradable urn.

How to Open a Cremation Urn

Before we advise on opening cremation urns, please note our facility places cremated remains inside a durable plastic bag if possible. This bag is tied and placed inside a black temporary urn which fits inside a sturdy cardboard container.

However, some families choose for the cremation urn be permanently closed with the remains inside.

Here are some instructions for opening your loved one’s urn.

Ceramic, Metal, or Glass Urns

The lid may have been glued with epoxy. If it doesn’t come off with slight pressure on the lid, soak a cotton swab in acetone or epoxy solvent and run it along the seal. Repeat as needed.

Note, a rubber mallet can also be used to help loosen the lid. Lay a cloth atop the lid and lightly tap the lid to help loosen the sealed urn.

Most metal urns have threaded lids. Turn gently to access the inside of the urn.

If the urn has been sealed with epoxy along the threads, follow the instructions above.

Marble, Wooden, or Stone Urns

Look at the bottom of the marble urn to see if there is a threaded plug. Unscrew the urn opening to access the remains. Most stone urns have a felt piece atop this opening. A small knife can be used to remove this fabric.

Some wooden urns have screws that can be accessed by removing screws on the bottom panel. Note, some wood urns have a simple sliding panel.

Other Tips for Opening Urns

  • If you are opening the urn outdoors, do so on a still day.
  • Work on a clean, flat surface.
  • Lay down a tarp or plastic sheet in case the remains are not inside a bag.
  • Even though cremated remains are sterile, some people feel more comfortable wearing gloves.
  • Reach out to your local funeral home for assistance if you feel uncomfortable with the process.

Key Takeaways

  • Urns can be opened if necessary, but you might need to break the seal.
  • Different types of urns open in different ways.
  • Open the urn carefully, as some cremated remains may be put into the urn directly.

For Help with End-of-Life Matters, Contact Us

Alabama Funeral Homes & Cremation Centers has served the community since 1967. We know death is not easy. We want answer any questions about planning funerals or cremation services, and we want to you to save money. Fill out the contact form to ask any other questions.