Planning an Ash Scattering Ceremony and Services
If you are thinking about scattering a loved one's cremated remains, the information below will help you understand how to scatter ashes, where to scatter ashes, as well as support you in planning for a scattering ashes ceremony.
Such a ceremony is commonly a private family occasion but it certainly doesn't have to be. Whether large or small, a scattering ceremony can be anything you want it to be. You can bring music into the event, read prayers, or simply take turns sharing memories of your loved one. When choosing to engage in ash scattering, you will want to purchase a scattering urn, designed to disperse the ashes easily. For your convenience, we offer a wide selection of scattering urns.
General Ash Scattering Advice
Cremation provides families with more time to arrange where and how to scatter the ashes. While there is no policing agency overseeing scattering, there are some basics you should know:
If you plan on scattering ashes on private property, it's smart to receive written permission from the owner.
Public parks require that you obtain a scattering permit.
There are generally no regulations regarding ash scattering on uncontrolled public lands; you need to use your own judgment.
You should not scatter ashes within 100 yards of public roads or trails.
The cremation container must be disposed of separately and in an environmentally-safe manner.
Scattering ashes in inland waters is governed by the Clean Water Act so it's important to obtain a permit from the agency that oversees waterways.
Ash scattering at sea must be done at a minimum of three nautical miles from the coastline.
Any flowers or wreaths used in the ash scattering ceremony held at sea must decompose. No plastic flowers or other non-decomposable items should be left behind.
For ash scattering done at sea, the Environmental Protection Agency requires that you notify the regional office in writing within 30 days after the event.
How to Scatter Ashes
Cremated remains bear little resemblance to ashes; they look and behave a lot like small-grained gravel. However, there are some fine-grains mixed in so be sure to check the wind direction before scattering into the air or a body of water.
Ash Scattering Ceremony Ideas
The common image most of us have of scattering ashes is one of a casting ceremony where the ashes are tossed into the wind or sprinkled on the surface of a lake, river, or sea. Whether one person is responsible for the casting or it's a group effort, casting a loved one's ashes can present challenges. We advise you check the direction of the wind and always cast downwind to avoid having the ashes come back to coat your clothes, skin and hair.
A floating ceremony requires the purchase of a water-soluble urn, which will float for a few minutes before sinking below the surface to bio-degrade naturally.
A trenching ceremony involves digging a shallow trench into the soil, which is filled from the urn, and then raked over at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Many families – especially those who have planted a tree in remembrance of their loved one – choose a ringing ceremony. A trench can be cut into the soil or the ashes can be sprinkled directly on the ground around the tree or shrub.
A raking ceremony involves pouring the ashes on the ground and then raking them into the soil at the conclusion of the ceremony. This can be a very effortless way to scatter the ashes and is appropriate for scattering ceremonies held on privately-owned land.
A Final Note about Planning an Ash Scattering Ceremony
Knowing where to scatter ashes is a very important part of planning an ash scattering ceremony. Unless you're going to scatter the ashes on your own land, it's probably best to ask permission of the county or city in which you live. Or if you're hoping to hold your ash scattering ceremony on private land, the landowner needs to be consulted.
You may also wish to check out our selection of scattering urns prior to making plans for your ceremony. Should you need advice on how to design a meaningful ceremony, feel free to call us at (951) 658-3161.