After cremation, the cremated remains (also called ashes or cremains) are stored in a simple wooden box, often sealed inside a plastic bag. If you're transferring the cremated remains to an urn, you need to calculate their volume. You can estimate this using the accepted rule that one pound of body weight is approximately equal to one cubic inch of urn space. This kind of estimation usually leaves you with a result that's a little greater than what you need. For example, 175 pounds of body weight will only require 160 cubic inches of urn space. You can obtain a more precise calculation if you have access to the cremated remains.

Measure the width and depth of the cremated remains' temporary container, in inches.

Open the container. You need to take a measurement inside the container. If you aren't comfortable doing this, ask a friend or memorial services professional to assist you or take the measurement for you. Measure from the container’s floor to the top of the cremated remains, in inches.

Multiply the container’s depth by the number obtained in Step Two.

Multiply the container’s width by the number obtained in Step Three. The result is the number of cubic inches of urn space needed for the cremated remains.


  • It's better to end up with an urn that's too large than one that's too small. Ask your memorial services professional for direction if you're still uncertain about the size you need for your loved one's cremated remains.