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Coffins and Other Products Used In A Funeral

Caskets: Descriptions And Alternative Places To Purchase

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A casket (coffin) is a box for containing the body while at a viewing or ceremony and to move the body. It can also be a means of conveying social and economic status and/or the individuality of the deceased.

Although caskets are commonly used for funerals and internment in the U.S., no state law requires use of a casket.

Caskets vary widely in style and price and are sold primarily for their visual appeal. Typically, caskets are made of wood, fiberboard, fiberglass, metal or plastic.

A casket is often the most expensive item that will be purchased in a traditional funeral. An average casket costs slightly more than $2,000 according to the Federal Trade Commission, but prices increase dramatically if you choose a casket made of a special material, such as mahogany, bronze or copper.

Traditionally, caskets were only sold by funeral homes. Today, showrooms and websites operated by "third party" dealers are also selling caskets. You can buy a casket from a "casket store," discount stores such as Costco, or online retailers. Any of these sources can ship the casket directly to the funeral home. Some of the companies that operate over the internet will guarantee delivery within 24 hours. The Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to agree to use a casket you purchased elsewhere, and doesn't allow the funeral home to charge to a fee for using it.

To locate a casket on the internet, type "casket" in your favorite search engine.

When considering purchasing a casket from other than the funeral home, be sure to add the cost of shipping and handling to the cost of the casket.

When deciding on a casket, keep in mind that NO casket, regardless of its qualities or cost, will preserve a body forever.

Homemade Caskets

Caskets can be made of wood or cardboard by family and/or friends. 

In addition to making the casket, they can decorate it. Making a casket, or decorating it, can help people find closure.

Free plans for caskets can be found on line. In your favorite search engine, type in: "Plans Homemade Coffins" or "Plans Homemade Caskets". One of the sites that provides such plans is Mother Earth News offsite link.

Metal Caskets

Metal caskets frequently are described as "gasketed," "protective" or "sealer caskets." These terms mean that the casket has a rubber gasket or some other feature that is designed to delay the penetration of water into the casket and prevent rust. The Funeral Rule forbids claims that these features help preserve the remains indefinitely because, in fact, they don't. They simply add to the cost of the casket. Most metal caskets are made from rolled steel of varying gauges -- the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel. Some metal caskets come with a warranty for longevity.

Wooden Caskets

Wooden caskets generally are not gasketed and do not have a warranty for longevity. They can be hardwood such as mahogany, walnut, cherry or oak, or softwood such as pine. Pine caskets are generally less expensive than most others. Most funeral homes have pine caskets but rarely display them.

Manufacturers of both wooden and metal caskets usually provide a warranty for both workmanship and materials.

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