Cardboard Caskets - MUST KNOW FACTS (2023) (2023)

As consumers turn to more eco-friendly buying habits, green funeral options are gaining popularity. Recent studies show that consumer trends are moving in favor of sustainable products. Along with natural burials and water-based cremation, the uptake of cardboard caskets is growing to meet this desire.

The below guide highlights everything you need to know about cardboard caskets and what to look out for when buying.

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What is a Cardboard Casket?

As the name implies, a cardboard casket is a container made of interwoven cardboard that holds the deceased. They come fully-assembled or as a flat-pack that will need to be set up.

Depending on the style, these caskets may include load-bearing handles, a nameplate, and an internal liner. To ensure that materials are biodegradable, manufacturers will use natural rope or fabric for the handles, food-grade glues, and wax-coated interiors.

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Why aren’t cardboard caskets widely used?

While this form of burial container has been available for the past decade, it is uncommon to see one at a funeral. There are many reasons for this:


  • Cardboard caskets are viewed as unconventional by some. Many families want their loved ones to be laid to rest in higher-end options
  • Consumers are concerned about how sturdy they are, despite advancements in build quality
  • Funeral Directors rarely offer them to families ahead of traditional wood or metal-based options

These trends are changing over time as funeral costs and concerns for the environment grow.

Are cardboard caskets legal?

By law, you are able to use any form of container including those made from cardboard. This includes caskets or coffins that are home-made.

Can a cardboard casket be carried?

Yes, as long as you source a cardboard casket that is fitted with handles. You also need to check specifications to ensure that the casket can bear the load of the deceased person.

What if it rains?

Advancements in the design of modern cardboard caskets ensure that they can withstand rain and the elements. Even if they are submerged in water, the structural integrity of the casket would last long enough for a standard funeral service.

What if the deceased needs to be held for a longer period?

In the event of a delayed funeral, you can request that the funeral director keep the deceased in the morgue to preserve the cardboard casket. They can hold off on moving the body until the viewing or service occurs.

This is particularly important if the body is embalmed as fluid leakage is possible. Many cardboard caskets have protective liners that help to maintain the container structure.

Can you be buried in a cardboard casket?

Yes, by law you can be buried in any type of container. Cardboard caskets are actually preferred by natural cemeteries due to their biodegradability.

Can you be cremated in a cardboard casket?

Yes, as long as the cremation container is enclosed, combustible, and rigid. This option is becoming common due to cost-savings and environmental benefits (cardboard cremates with fewer carbon emissions than wood caskets).

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How Much Does a Cardboard Casket Cost?

As with all casket or coffin options, the price will vary depending on vendor and quality. The cheapest cardboard casket from an online store or eBay can cost $150 to $200. In contrast, a very sturdy cardboard casket with handles or a customized design can cost upwards of $1000 to $2500 on average.

Where can I buy a cardboard casket or coffin?

Unfortunately, options for direct retail or online purchase of cardboard caskets are limited within the USA (there are more providers in the UK), but one mid-range option from a credible supplier is the Virtue shown below:

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Do I have to buy a casket from a Funeral Director?

Consumers are able to purchase a casket independently of a funeral home. If you buy a burial container online or from another vendor, then you can arrange to have it sent to the funeral home. They can not require you to be present for the delivery of the casket or charge handling fees.

What is the cheapest type of coffin?

Cardboard coffins are the most affordable option with prices starting at $150 from online vendors. Other caskets made of bamboo or wicker can be comparable in price. By law, you can also use home-made coffins which may end up being cheaper.

Tips when Purchasing a Cardboard Casket

Ensuring that you make the right choice can be daunting if you are looking to buy a cardboard casket. To make an informed purchase, these steps outline everything to consider:

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  • Budget – The amount you would like to spend will dictate many of the below decisions. Remember to factor in extras such as delivery fees and any add-ons.
  • Casket Structure – Do you want to self-assemble the casket or buy one that is ready-made? Consider how delivery to the funeral home will work if you need to build the container offsite.
  • Buy for the Type of Service – A basic cremation will mean that a simple cardboard cremation casket or capsule is fine. If the funeral includes a viewing then the casket will need a raised lid with a hinge.
  • Resting Place Requirements – Does the cemetery specify what kind of casket is permitted? While cardboard caskets are widely acceptable, some burial grounds require a metal nameplate to be included.
  • Determine Casket Size – You will need to know the measurements of the deceased to assess the right casket size (length and width). It is recommended that caskets are at least 3 inches taller than a body.
  • Determine Load – Credible suppliers will provide a load test report or accreditation for a cardboard casket. This allows you to cross-check against the weight of the deceased and confirm that the casket is sturdy enough.
  • Add Ons – If pallbearers are part of the service then the casket will need handles. You can also choose to personalize the shape or style of the cardboard for a fee.
  • Pick Your Supplier – You can buy caskets through your funeral home, online, or via a third-party vendor such as a local showroom. Online suppliers will generally have the largest range of cardboard options (as the others focus on traditional wood and metal caskets). They are usually the most cost-effective too due to fewer overheads.
  • Origin – If you are using a cardboard casket for environmental reasons then it is worth checking the manufacturing location. The transit of caskets from remote countries may offset any sustainability gains.

Pros and Cons of Cardboard Caskets

Understanding the pros and cons of a cardboard casket will help you to make an informed buying decision. We’ve listed the main considerations below:

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  • Typically more affordable than wood or metal options
  • Eco-friendly; usually made of recycled materials and is biodegradable
  • Suitable for all forms of interment including green burials, cemetery burials, and cremation
  • Sturdy enough to bear the load of the deceased while being lighter for pallbearers to carry
  • Some suppliers can customize to a desired shape and style (e.g. printed images)
  • Loved ones are able to decorate the casket as a tribute with messages, photos, or attached keepsakes


  • Some styles use plastic liners which undermines the environmental benefits
  • Higher-end cardboard caskets can cost more than standard wooden options
  • The structure of the casket is not as durable as a wood or metal container but it will withstand a funeral service and any lifting
  • Stigma surrounding the use of cardboard as a cheaper option

Types of Cardboard Caskets

As with all types of burial containers, there are a range of models to choose from. Cardboard caskets come in many designs, with popular options including:

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Cardboard Cremation Caskets

Also known as cremation capsules, these are the simplest and cheapest form of cardboard caskets available. As it is a legal requirement to use an alternative container for cremation, many choose to buy a cardboard model to meet this rule.

In this regard, cardboard cremation caskets are best designed for direct cremations. Families may rent a more elaborate casket if a funeral service is planned.

Traditional Cardboard Caskets

This form of casket can be used for any form of interment and is on display during a funeral. They are shaped in the traditional casket frame (6-8 sides) and typically have handles for lifting. Many suppliers will offer models where you can assemble the frame yourself.

Luxury Cardboard Caskets

As the name implies, a luxury cardboard casket is a product of quality construction. This option balances sustainability with honoring the deceased in a more regal way. The cardboard is finished with gloss to resemble real wood, while the handles may be metal or brass, and the nameplate will be engraved. Pricing for this type of casket can often surpass that of wood or metal choices.

Customized Cardboard Caskets

Some suppliers offer personalization of a cardboard casket. This is a unique benefit of cardboard as families can request features that best represent the deceased. Options include printing imagery such as photos, sports teams, and flags over the casket. Custom shapes are also possible with car-based forms being popular.

Cardboard Casket for Pets

Pets are adored members of the family and can also be buried in a cardboard casket. Retailers offer a range of shapes for dogs, cats, and even the smallest of pets such as fish. Most of the cardboard casket options for animals require DIY assembly. Some kits even provide matching cardboard headstones or markers.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How strong are cardboard caskets?

Quality cardboard caskets are very sturdy and withstand loads of 265 Ibs (120 kgs) or more. Most credible suppliers will provide certified test results that you can verify against weight.

What is the most environmentally friendly casket?

A casket made out of biodegradable cardboard or wicker is the most eco-friendly option. Ensure that the materials are recycled and locally made for the best environmental benefits.

Do you have to buy a coffin if you are cremated?

Most state laws require the deceased to be in an “alternative container” for cremation. This does not have to be a coffin as long as it is sealed and rigid. Cardboard or plywood cremation capsules are popular options.

How much do cardboard caskets weigh?

Cardboard caskets typically weigh between 19 to 25 pounds, depending on the size and quality of the container.

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Can I be cremated in a cardboard coffin? ›

Cardboard is a viable option for both burial and cremation. Some crematoriums and funeral directors are wary of using cardboard, mostly because they are not used to it, and feel anxious about using something new.

What are the benefits of cardboard coffins? ›

Cardboard is a cheaper material than those which make the traditional coffin. It's a common material that is widely produced and recycled.
Benefits of Cardboard Coffins
  • A natural material that returns to the earth.
  • No pollutants for the earth or air.
  • Ideal for a natural and environmentally friendly funeral.

How much weight can a cardboard coffin hold? ›

We even provide an on-line design service where you can create your own coffin in the comfort and privacy of your own home. There is a common misconception that cardboard coffins won't be able to take much weight. However, our coffins can take up to a recommended maximum load of 25 stone (163kg).

Are cardboard coffins strong? ›

A. Yes! Cardboard coffins are extremely strong and secure. Our coffins are tested and approved to take up to 25 stone (163kg).

Is a body cremated with clothes on? ›

Cremation of a body can be done with or without clothing. Typically, if there has been a traditional funeral (with the body) present, the deceased will be cremated in whatever clothing they were wearing.

Do they remove organs during cremation? ›

Are organs removed before cremation? Generally, there is no need for a deceased person's organs to be removed before cremation, unless they are being used for organ donation.

Are cardboard coffins waterproof? ›

Note that most liners are not waterproof which is important to consider if you intend on embalming the deceased. It's also good understand if the linear is bio-degradable as this maybe an important factor for woodland or eco funerals. Where was it the coffin made?

Why do they cover the legs in a casket? ›

It is a common practice to cover the legs as there is swelling in the feet and shoes don't fit. As part of funeral care, the body is dressed and preserved, with the prime focus on the face. Post embalming, bodies are often placed without shoes; hence covering the legs is the way to offer a dignified funeral.

Why do they nail coffins shut? ›

Sealing the casket will not allow bacteria, soil, or moisture to get inside the casket. Sealed coffins are a perfect choice for people trying to ensure a well-protected resting place for the deceased.

What is the heaviest part of a coffin to carry? ›

Usually the head end of the coffin is the heaviest, thus the strongest two of your six pallbearers should take the handles at this end.

How long does it take for buried cardboard to decompose? ›

In more typical garden conditions — when a piece of cardboard is used as mulch or specifically shredded and soaked to decompose efficiently — biodegradation occurs quickly, with the majority of cardboard completely broken down within three months.

Are caskets comfortable to sleep in? ›

The average metal casket is made from stainless steel and the average wood from mahogany or oak. Most caskets are finished with soft interior linings to give the deceased a comfortable place to rest.

Do coffins eventually collapse? ›

As those coffins decompose, the remains will gradually sink to the bottom of the grave and merge. The coffin at the bottom will often be the first to collapse and may pull down the remains above it.

Do bodies decay in coffins? ›

However, on average, a body buried within a typical coffin usually starts to break down within a year, but takes up to a decade to fully decompose, leaving only the skeleton, Daniel Wescott (opens in new tab), director of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University, told Live Science.

Do coffins collapse over time? ›

Wooden coffins (or caskets) decompose, and often the weight of earth on top of the coffin, or the passage of heavy cemetery maintenance equipment over it, can cause the casket to collapse and the soil above it to settle.

Do you feel being cremated? ›

The body does not feel pain during cremation because the person is no longer alive. When a person dies, their brain stops sending signals to the body. This means that the person cannot feel pain or any other sensation.

What is removed from a body before cremation? ›

The only parts of the body that are removed before cremation are artificial ones like a medical device or implant with a battery, silicone, pins, radiation pressurization, pacemakers, and large hip, knee, and shoulder replacements along with any external jewelry.

Is the brain removed during embalming? ›

Do they remove organs when you are embalmed? One of the most common questions people have about embalming is whether or not organs are removed. The answer is no; all of the organs remain in the body during the embalming process.

Do they remove your brain before cremation? ›

If you're being cremated, your brain, like the rest of your body, will burn and become ash (usually the entire body is gone within 90 minutes).

Why does skull burst during cremation? ›

Burning of the Body During Hindu Cremation

The fire is left to burn itself out. In that time the body is transformed to ashes, and it is hoped the skull explodes to release the soul to heaven.

Do caskets have WIFI? ›

The MyRepublic Coffin comes fully kitted with a PS4, HDTV, surround sound system and a MyRepublic high-speed router which enables a fast connection. Vaughan Baker, managing director for MyRepublic, says the coffin illustrates the lengths MyRepublic will go to ensuring New Zealanders receive internet without limits.

Why do caskets have pillows? ›

A rather large overstuffed pillow is included in the interior package of a finished casket. This pillow helps to hold the decedent in an inclined position. This position helps present a naturally comforting presentation to the survivors.

What happens when they close the casket? ›

In a closed casket funeral, the casket remains closed during the viewing and the funeral service. Family members and guests are not able to see the body, and some prefer this option for a variety of reasons.

Why do funeral homes put gloves on deceased? ›

As early as the 1700s, gloves were given to pallbearers by the deceased's family to handle the casket. They were a symbol of purity, and considered a symbol of respect and honor.

Why did JFK's casket stay closed? ›

Jacqueline Kennedy declared that the casket would be kept closed for the viewing and funeral. The shot to President Kennedy's head left a gaping wound, and religious leaders said that a closed casket minimized morbid concentration on the body. Mrs.

Do they break your legs if you can't fit in a casket? ›

Funeral directors and embalmers never break a person's legs so they fit in a casket or a coffin. If a body is ever too tall for a standard casket, the mortician will find one that is larger. When this is not possible due to time or budgetary reasons, legs may be slightly bent at the knee joint instead.

What's the difference between a casket and coffin? ›

a coffin and a casket? The difference is basically one of design. Coffins are tapered at the head and foot and are wide at the shoulders. Caskets are rectangular in shape and are usually constructed of better quality timbers and feature higher standards of workmanship.

Why do you carry a coffin feet first? ›

Coffins are carried feet first simply because of health and safety, rather than any kind of ceremonial tradition.

Why is a casket 6 feet under? ›

Burying a body 6 feet deep may have been a way to stop animals from smelling the decomposing bodies. A body buried 6 feet deep would also be safe from accidental disturbances like plowing.

Why do 6 people carry a casket? ›

As such, this number and even are more than eight people. However, six pallbearers are picked to carry the casket during a funeral service often because most caskets have three handles on each side. In most cases, pallbearers are people who have close relations with the deceased.

Can 4 people carry a casket? ›

It takes between four and eight people to carry the coffin, depending on its size. Six is usually a good number.

Will cardboard break down over winter? ›

After a few months, you'll start to see the cardboard breaking down. Underneath, you'll find fresh garden soil, ready for plants. The best time to do this is in fall, so the cardboard can break down over the winter and you'll be ready to go in spring.

How long does it take for clothes to decompose in a coffin? ›

Also around this time, the molecular structures that hold your cells together break away, so your tissues collapse into a watery mush. And in a little over a year, your cotton clothes disintegrate, as acidic body fluids and toxins break them down.

How long should you breathe in a coffin? ›

A person can live on the air in a coffin for a little over five hours, tops. If you start hyperventilating, panicked that you've been buried alive, the oxygen will likely run out sooner.)

Do caskets fill with water? ›

Coffins are not watertight so when the grave fills with water it also fills the coffin, which decomposes and rots the bodies faster. In my opinion this is where the water mixes with the body and embalming fluids," he explained.

Are caskets water tight? ›

Yes, modern caskets are sealed airtight, and waterproof in order to protect the body from decomposition. This is especially important if the body is going to be on display for a funeral or memorial service.

How long before a body starts to smell? ›

Putrefaction (4-10 days after death) – Autolysis occurs and gases (odor) and discoloration starts.

What is left in a coffin after 50 years? ›

What is left in a coffin after 50 years? However, in drier conditions, the body could also be mummified – that's mummification without wrappings, or chemicals. But by 50 years, the tissues will have liquefied and disappeared, leaving behind mummified skin and tendons.

Why is a grave 6 feet deep? ›

To Protect the Corpse from Being Stolen. Snatching dead bodies was common in many parts of England and Scotland in the early 1800s. Therefore, graves were always dug six feet deep to prevent body snatchers from gaining access to the buried remains.

Which part of the body does not burn during cremation? ›

What's really returned to you is the person's skeleton. Once you burn off all the water, soft tissue, organs, skin, hair, cremation container/casket, etc., what you're left with is bone. When complete, the bones are allowed to cool to a temperature that they can be handled and are placed into a processing machine.

Do coffins smell? ›

As mentioned, most of the caskets are not airtight, and advanced decomposition will lead to unpleasant smells even in a closed service. However, it is especially important for funerals with open caskets, as all measures must be taken to ensure that loved ones can say their farewells before decomposition begins.

How long does a body last after embalming? ›

As mentioned, even embalmed bodies are not spared from natural decomposition, which begins a few days to a week after embalming. For medical purposes and extenuating reasons, bodies can be kept for six months to two years. Bodies that are not embalmed, on the other hand, begin decomposing almost immediately.

What type of coffin is used for cremation? ›

If You Will Be Having A Funeral Before The Cremation

A casket that will be cremated cannot have any metal parts, so the casket must be all wood, cloth-covered wood, or an alternative material (bamboo, wicker, etc.).

What materials Cannot be cremated? ›

Materials that CANNOT be cremated include:
  • Metal.
  • Plastic.
  • Glass.
  • Clothes made from synthetic materials that may be hazardous to burn.
  • Electronic devices or implants such as pacemakers or hearing aids.
Jan 16, 2019

Can you put anything in a coffin for cremation? ›

What can you put in a coffin for cremation? Items such as wooden rosary beads, flowers, soft toys and written messages can be placed inside someone's coffin for cremation. Jewellery items can also be cremated, but cannot be recovered after a cremation has happened.

What is allowed in a coffin for cremation? ›

The coffin must be of wood, a wood by-product or other suitable material which, when placed in a cremator and subjected to the accepted cremation process, is easily combustible and does not emit smoke, give off toxic gas or leave any retardant smears or drips after final combustion.

What funeral homes don t want you to know? ›

10 Facts Funeral Directors Don't Want You to Know
  • Shopping around for funeral services can save you thousands of dollars.
  • Funeral directors are not clergy. ...
  • Embalming is rarely required when the person will be buried within 24 to 48 hours.

How many bodies are cremated at once? ›

Only one body can be cremated at once, and all cremated remains must be cleared from the cremation chamber before another cremation can begin. These standards do mean that you may have little input into any 'customization' of a cremation process.

Is it OK to touch cremated ashes? ›

The average cremated adult will produce about five pounds of pulverized bone fragments, a coarse powder that is sterile and safe to touch, even if the person died of a communicable disease.

Why does the belly button not burn during cremation? ›

The ashes that remain are collected in vessels made of brass or clay ! Many may not know this, but the belly button of the deceased never burns to ash, it remains hard and in the same shape that it adorns the human body.

What colors are not allowed at a funeral? ›

Wearing dark grey or deep blue is just as appropriate as black, while brown and lighter greys are suitable for the vast majority of funeral services. However, unless specifically requested by the deceased or their family, you should avoid any bright colors such as yellows, oranges, pinks, and reds.

Is it disrespectful to take a picture of a casket? ›

You definitely do not want to take a picture of the casket, because that can be highly disrespectful, as well. If you want to take a picture of anything specific, like a decoration or the memorial display, you will need to ask the family for permission. If they do not agree, respect their wishes and do not insist.

Can you put pictures in a casket? ›

Photos are perhaps the most common item families place in caskets. From wedding photos, graduations photos, family portraits, and any snapshot that captures the deceased lifetime works for their burial. Some families choose to add pictures with the frame, and others without the frame. Both are acceptable.

Do you bury someone with their wedding ring? ›

Other people may choose to bury their wedding ring with their spouses in the casket. Some hold on to their ring and gift it to a family member as a family heirloom. There is no right or wrong thing to do with your ring after your spouse's death. You should do what feels right and makes sense for you.

How long does it take to cremate a body? ›

The process takes anywhere between three to four hours depending on the power of the retort and the mass of the body inserted. After this step is completed, the cremated bones will come out of the retort and then be processed.


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