Ash Scattering Ceremony - How to Scatter Ashes
For families who have chosen cremation for a loved one, the next decision involves what to do with the remains. Some choose to keep the cremated remains in their home, have them placed in a columbarium niche at a local cemetery, or scatter the ashes in a meaningful place. 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.
How to Scatter 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 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.
Types of Ash Scattering Services & Ceremonies
The common image most of us have of scattering ashes is one of a casting ceremony for scattering ashes 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 sky ceremony involves the use of a private airplane and does not usually involve family members.
Should you need advice on how to design a meaningful ceremony, feel free to call us at 920-336-8702.