Looking for New Ideas for Biodegradable Urns


We’d like your opinion!

What designs, shapes, etc. do you think families would like in a biodegradable urn?

Our Urn Store – http://urns.ashesonthesea.com – is developing new designs for biodegradable urns. Bio urns have cremains put in them and then they are placed in the ocean where they float for a brief time, sinking slowly to the bottom…

A biodegradable flower urn – Peaceful Petal


What designs, shapes, etc. do you think families would like?

So far on the idea table we have dolphins, a whale tail, and sports themed.

Your thoughts?

Thank you!


Common Problems with Biodegradable Urns


Bio Urn

With cremation so popular today, the number of products being sold to accommodate cremains has also skyrocketed. We at Ashes on the Sea handle the urns families purchase from funeral homes.

Families choose a biodegradable urn for several reasons. Sometimes their religion or belief is such that all of the cremains must go in at once. Others simply cannot bear to ‘see’ the cremains. In any case, what the families are expecting from this purchase – a peaceful descent into the sea – can become a horrific ordeal attempting to sink the urn! These families are usually very shocked and disappointed.

Why is this happening? What can you do to help ensure this doesn’t occur?

Learn About the Specific Product


Peaceful Petal Urn on top of the water

All biodegradable urns are not made equal. Some bio urns are only made for earth burial, and will not disintegrate for long periods of time when placed on the water. Make sure that the item purchased is specifically made for ocean burial.

Use the Right Bag!

This is the most common problem we find with biodegradable urns. Someone has not transferred the cremains into the biodegradable bag that usually accompanies the urn. The whole regular plastic bag has been placed into the urn. Because the urn is closed and sealed, no one knows that the internal bag is real plastic, and as a result the urn does not sink. 

When we have to pull the urn back into the boat to ascertain why it isn’t sinking, the effect is quite appalling to the family.

The effect is quite appalling. We have to pull the urn out of the water and open it up to find out why it is not sinking. The urn is already starting to fall apart at this stage. We then have to take the plastic bag out and empty the cremains from the bag. This is exactly what the family was trying to avoid by purchasing the urn.

Funeral Directors – Please Share This with Your Team

While YOU may find it obvious that a biodegradable bag must be used inside a bio urn, it may be good to remind all of your employees and members of your team to double-check the inside bag. It is an easy mistake to make.

We decided to write this piece after another biodegradable urn failed to sink today off the coast of San Diego during a burial at sea. We waited for an hour, but it would not sink.


We are hoping that we can all work together and get the word out to help make this a more pleasant experience for the families we serve!

For more information on how to assemble a biodegradable urn, please see our YouTube Channel.

Biodegradable Urns Now Legal Off California Coast


Until June 25, 2012, it was “officially” illegal to use a biodegradable urn, as a method for dispersing human ashes (cremains) at sea. Existing law required that cremated remains be removed from their container before scattering. This obviously applied to non-dissolving urns, such as the hard plastic or “temporary” urns, metal, or other permanent urns, but, as it was written, also applied to ANY container, even those that would dissolve over time.

The old law presented a number of problems for families as well as funeral homes. Funeral Homes regularly purchased biodegradable urns from reputable companies, such as Passages International, and sold them to families planning on carrying out a memorial at sea off the California Coast. No one was really clear on how far-reaching the law was. Even the State was not enforcing the law as it applied to biodegradable urns – although still stating emphatically that it was illegal. When burial at sea companies were presented with such urns, it presented a moral dilemma: Would they refuse to allow the family to carry out their wishes? Would they, according to the strict application of the law, open the urn at the place of disposition, pour the ashes out, and return the urn to the family? Most did neither, and just allowed the memorial to take place, feeling it was the right thing to do, and why cause any more grief to the family?

Finally, California modified the law, effective June 25, 2012, excluding biodegradable urns from the containers that had to be opened up. The law was signed by Governor Brown on July 10, 2012. This makes sense on many levels! The original law was written before biodegradable urns were so popular. The law was not created with bio urns in mind. Many bio urns are designed to be ocean friendly. Using a biodegradable urn as it is designed to be used presents no major differences than opening a container and pouring the cremains out. Another benefit is that it prevents the often-feared “ashes blowing back on the family” scenario. Also, the law will (hopefully) help to prevent other urns sold as biodegradable, but not quite, from washing up on shore and being found by beach-goers, surfers, and swimmers.

Now, new questions arise: What kind of urns qualify under the new law? Are there any specific methods that must be followed?

The urns pictured here qualify under the new law, which requires the urn dissolve within a certain amount of time.

Other notable changes: The ashes must be transferred no more than seven days prior to placement at sea. How this would ever be enforced is left to your imagination. The industry has always called these containers “biodegradable urns” or “bio urns.” The law calls them “scattering urns.” “Scattering urn” is described as “a closed container containing cremated remains that will dissolve and release its contents within four hours of being placed at sea.”

The exact text of AB 1777 can be found here. The Bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, CPA who wanted family members to have more peace of mind that their loved ones were being properly “disposed.”

“AB 1777 will protect the remains of loved ones from being stranded in a vulnerable container and most importantly, it will ensure that they are peacefully laid to rest in a manner that is not only lawful, but safe for the environment.” –  Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, CPA

Read more about Ma’s bill here.

Ashes on the Sea applauds this change as it relates to forward thinking in the funeral industry. Almost half of those who die will choose cremation. Laws relating to post-cremation choices thus need to be looked at and addressed on a continuing basis.

Your thoughts?