The truth about ash scattering

Ash scattering takes many forms including aerial and natural scatterings with biodegradable urns.

The truth about ash scattering

Ash scattering takes many forms including aerial and natural scatterings with biodegradable urns.“Reality television” is very popular. However, given the (usually) personal and private nature of ash scattering, most TV scenes involving the ash scattering are still in scripted dramas and comedies. Consequently, what you see on the screen probably differs widely from what happens in real life.

You’ve probably seen the humorous scenes where ashes get blown into a family member’s face. Or the urn gets knocked over, spilling its contents into the family room, onto relatives and eventually all over the ground. Truthfully, these types of scenarios almost never, if ever, happen.

What are ashes?

Ashes (technically called cremains or cremated remains) contain processed bone fragments. Most are heavier than the ashes found in a wood-burning fireplace, so they don’t float through the air. Typically, you pour the ashes rather than scatter.

Aerial ash scattering

Yes, there is aerial ash scattering. But if done properly, the people carrying out the scattering use a tool to ensure none of the remains come back into the plane. A scattering pilot with a good reputation makes sure the event is respectful and that the remains are properly placed outside the plane. If considering this option, ask the pilot what method they use in addition to their experience level.

Biodegradable urns

Unless otherwise requested, most funeral homes return the remains in a thick plastic bag that is placed in the urn. So even if the urn happens to fall off a table or mantle, ashes should not be thrown everywhere. The exception is if a family requests the ashes be placed directly into biodegradable urns so they can be naturally distributed.  And, with some biodegradable urns there is usually a biodegradable plastic-type bag that the remains are placed in; again so that they are not inadvertently scattered.

Texas Law

One thing to note is there are statutes in Texas outlining where you can, and can’t, scatter remains. Per Texas Health & Safety Code Sec. 716.302.e:

A person may dispose of cremated remains only:

  • in a crypt, niche, grave, or scattering area of a dedicated cemetery;
  • by scattering the remains over uninhabited public land, sea, or other public waterways in accordance with Section 716.304; or
  • on private property as directed by the authorizing agent with the written consent of the property owner in accordance with Section 716.304.

In conclusion, if your loved one requested to be scattered, don’t be overly concerned. It can be an inspiring experience and even part of a farewell ceremony for family and friends.  Therefore, do your homework and learn about types of scattering and the various techniques. Ask your cremation service provider for their suggestions, as well. Scattering can be a very personal and special way to celebrate a life. Just make sure you plan ahead… and don’t believe everything you see on TV!

aCremation is a licensed funeral establishment specializing in direct cremation throughout North, Central and South Texas. We have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Our team of dedicated, compassionate professionals are available around-the-clock to assist with making cremation arrangements and to answer any questions. aCremation currently serves Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco. We invite you to call us, toll-free at 877-353-3626.


Mary Beth Barnett

Mary Beth Barnett is a licensed Funeral Director in Texas. Her involvement with aCremation began before our doors opened – researching how we could provide affordable cremations and still keep quality and service standards high. Through this process, she developed a passion for working with families who are going through one of the most stressful phases of life – planning for death.

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