Caring for Cremated Remains

There are a variety of ways to care for the cremated remains of the deceased.


Cremation urns vary in styles and materials and can be purchased from funeral homes or funeral merchandise retailers. Consider a biodegradable urn if you plan to scatter or bury the cremated remains at a later date.


A columbarium contains niches to store cremated human remains. The niches may be either on the inside or the outside of the structure and range in price, depending on size, location and quality. Cremated remains are placed in an urn or other container before being placed in a niche. The cemetery may charge you extra for endowment care, a flower vase or a nameplate.


Many cemeteries have facilities for burying cremated remains, such as urn gardens that range from simple to elaborate. Or, you can bury them in a family grave or in other places, where allowed. You might consider a 'green burial' in which you bury the cremated remains outside of a traditional cemetery setting, in a biodegradable urn.

Sharing with Others

Place small portions of the cremated remains in jewelry, miniature urns or other keepsake memorials specifically created for this purpose and present them to relatives and close friends.

Scattering on Land

New Jersey and other states will permit cremated remains to be scattered on private property with the permission of the property owner and on public property, with the approval of the state, county or local agency in charge. This includes publically- and privately-owned lakes, rivers and streams. Many national and state parks have permit requirements and some have location limitations. Always check before scattering to make sure that no laws are broken.

Scattering at Sea

Federal law requires that cremated remains must be scattered at least three nautical miles off shore. Anyone who owns a boat can scatter cremated remains provided they file a burial/scattering at sea notification form with the appropriate federal Environmental Protection Agency regional office within 30 days. The form is available at You may want to ask the funeral director about a water soluble urn which floats for a few minutes before sinking.

In New Jersey, the Steelmantown Cemetery has Scattering at Sea services. For more information, visit the Steelmantown Cemetery Website.

For information on scattering veteran’s remains at sea, see "Burial at Sea (Veterans)" in the "Ground Burials" section.

Scattering from the Air

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows cremated remains to be scattered from airplanes and other airborne devices as long as the procedure does not present a hazard to persons or property.

As with all other considerations, be sure to consult with your funeral director to understand all the options available to you.