How to Scatter Ashes

While you can choose to scatter cremated remains however you like, there are a few traditional ways of scattering ashes that might appeal to you or inspire you.

Casting ashes or scattering ashes

Casting or scattering ashes is what most people think of when they think of scattering: throwing the ashes into the wind. Casting ashes can be done in nearly any location.

If you're considering casting or scattering ashes, be aware that cremated remains are much heavier than what most people think of as "ashes." This means that, while some of the remains may float away in the air, some of the remains may simply fall to the ground. Because some of the remains will become airborne, it's a good idea to have any guests stand upwind, so they don't accidentally get in the ashes' path.

At a casting or scattering, one person can be responsible for scattering the ashes, or everyone present can have a portion of ashes that they scatter.

Trenching ashes

When ashes are "trenched," a small trench (a long, narrow hole) is dug in the ground, and the ashes are placed in the hole. The trench can then be covered with soil. You can also place the cremated remains in a biodegradable urn and place the urn in the trench. If you'd like, you can mark the place with natural elements (such as plantings or special stones), a small statue, or other objects. 

Trenching can also take place on a beach. You can dig a shallow trench in the sand near the water's edge and fill the trench with the cremated remains. You can leave the ashes uncovered in the trench, or you can cover them with sand. As the tide comes in, the ashes will be swept out to sea. If you're thinking about trenching ashes on the beach, you might want to check the tidal schedule to make sure that you're at the beach when the tide is coming in. (If the tide is going out, the water will not come up to reach the trench.)

Raking ashes

Raking ashes is the process of scattering ashes in a garden or in the soil and then using a rake (such as a garden rake) to incorporate the cremated remains into the earth. Raking can be done in a garden at your home, at a meaningful spot or on a meaningful piece of land, or in another location.

At a raking, one person can be responsible for raking the ashes, or everyone present can take turns raking the ashes into the soil.

If you're thinking about raking ashes in a public place, such as in a park, make sure that you have the legal right to do so in that place.

Scattering over water

Ashes can be scattered over water in a number of ways. You can scatter ashes over a river, a lake, a pond, or the ocean. If you'll be scattering the ashes over a large body of water, you might want to take a boat out onto the water and scatter the ashes from the boat. If you don't own a boat or have access to a boat, there are many companies that can either rent you a boat or can scatter the ashes over water on your behalf.

You can scatter the ashes over water as you would when casting or scattering ashes over land, by simply tossing the ashes over the water. If you're thinking about doing this, be aware of the direction of the wind; make sure that the wind is blowing away from the boat and anyone on the boat.

You can also scatter ashes over water using a water-soluble "scattering urn." With a water-soluble scattering urn, the cremated remains are placed in the urn and then the urn is dropped in the water, where it will dissolve, leaving the ashes in the water.

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