Scattering of Cremated Remains in Nature

The desire to spread or scatter the cremated remains of a loved one in a special place has become a popular choice in recent years. Many of the families we serve have chosen this method of final placement of the cremated remains for various reasons including a love of nature or the seas, being uncomfortable with the idea of a formal cemetery burial, etc.

Here we have listed some helpful information for those who are considering spreading the cremains of a loved one.

Please remember, this choice is a very important and irreversible one. It is a decision not to be taken lightly or hastily made. One of the beautiful things about cremation is that decisions such as this do not have to be made immediately. Scattering the remains may be done at any future date when you are sure you are ready.

Another benefit to cremation is that you may choose to reserve a portion of the cremated remains in a smaller keepsake urn or even in a vessel within keepsake jewelry. That way you can scatter a portion of the remains and save the rest in a special place.

Our Lake Placement / Scattering Service

A very popular method of scattering in our area is Lake Erie Scattering. We offer two options for this choice:

  • Unattended: We provide a respectful, dignified lake scattering service locally in the offshore waters of Lake Erie. Following the scattering, we will provide a certificate which will list the exact date, time, and location by GPS coordinates. The family does not attend this placement. If you wish to attend, see below.
    COST FOR UNATTENDED LAKE ERIE SCATTERING: $125
  • Attended: We provide for a private charter of the vessel with a Coast Guard Certified Charter Captain to take up to 6 attendees out for the scattering service locally in Lake Erie. You are put directly in contact with the charter service to coordinate dates, times, and directions. We do not accompany you on this trip. If you require room for additional attendees, a second vessel may be arranged for an additional fee.
    COST FOR ATTENDED LAKE ERIE SCATTERING (with up to 6 Attendees): $600

When placing cremains, or cremated remains, in the water, some people choose to pour them directly into the water. Many people, however have chosen to use urns specifically designed for this purpose. Using a biodegradable urn made specifically for water placement is often the best choice as it aids in controlling the environment better than just scattering. We have options available which can be viewed online through our urn catalog.

Ocean or Lake Scattering…Doing It Yourself

Being located so close to the coast, you may have access to your own vessel and wish to perform the sea placement on your own.

No special permitting is required in Ohio, so you may certainly do the scattering yourself. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You should travel at least 3 miles off the coast before scattering. US Code specifies this as the minimum distance from which scattering is permitted. In addition, US Code states that you should report the details of the scattering to the EPA Regional Office. (For your convenience, you may download a copy of the US Code (40CFR229.1) here. You may also wish to visit the EPA website for verification of these and other possible requirements.
  • Turn the boat into the wind when scattering and perform the scattering from the back of the boat. If you are able to drop anchor, this may help in keeping the boat turned into the wind. Also, if you are pouring the ashes directly into the water, get down close to the water to control the direction of the scattering..
  • You may wish to consider using an urn specifically designed for the water placement or scattering. This option can include biodegradable urns or other urns designed to aid in the scattering process. Some examples are available through our online urn catalog.
  • Take along some flowers. Following scattering or placement, placing flowers on the water to mark the site can be very memorable. We recommend using rose petals as they work especially well for this.
  • If you are able, record the navigational coordinates of the spot where the scattering takes place. With current technology, it is very easy to return to the exact spot again at some future special date if you should so wish.
  • Please exercise all boating safety rules. Nothing would be worse than adding additional tragedy to the grief you are already experiencing because safety rules were ignored. We want the scattering service to be a memorable and safe event for you and your family.

Scattering or Placement over Land

While water placement is a favorite, many people prefer spreading the cremated remains over land.

There are no laws in most states which specifically prohibit the scattering of cremation ashes. This does not mean however, that you may scatter ashes anywhere you choose. Certain common laws may apply. We suggest that you think of the cremated remains as being your own private property. You would not be allowed to deposit your private property on public lands, parks, lakes, etc. or on someone else’s property without their consent. The same restrictions apply to cremated remains.

You should exercise due diligence, making sure that no laws are violated. The laws of different states may vary. Be sure your are aware of the laws in the state in which you plan to scatter.

  • Scattering on your own private property or the private property of another who has given you permission is acceptable. We recommend obtaining this permission in writing.
  • Scattering over public lands (i.e., state parks, county or city parks, beach, etc.) is not usually permitted without the expressed permission from the appropriate governmental agency with authority over the site.
  • Scattering of ashes is permitted within many popular national parks with a Special Use Permit. For more information on scattering ashes within a national park, please contact the National Park Service. Each Park Superintendent may set his or her own criteria for permitting scattering, so be sure you have obtained permission from the specific park you wish to visit. Most parks charge a small fee for this permit.
  • You may wish to consider the use of a biodegradable urn which may be buried in the ground and is designed to decompose underground providing for a completely eco-friendly burial. Some examples are available in our online urn catalog.
  • Please recognize the sensitivity of this activity. We encourage you to handle the event in a discreet and private manner so that others are not offended.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is to assist you in the proper, legal dispersal of cremated human remains in the USA. You should consult the laws of your area before proceeding. Nothing obtained in this document should be misconstrued to be a grant of permission or authority from us to disperse cremated remains at a location which would be in violation of any local, state, or federal laws or which would violate the rights of any person or entity. If you choose to disperse cremated remains, you do so at your own risk and may be held responsible for all violations of any applicable law.