Outer burial containers: Are they really needed?

As I talk with people about burial options, I find many don’t know about outer burial containers, also known as vaults or grave liners. If you or a loved one want their remains placed underground, the chances are very good you will have to have an outer burial container. And yes, even if you are wanting to bury cremated remains.

It’s not because it’s legally mandated. It’s not. It’s because most cemeteries require them.

The State of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau points out on its website:

“The law does not require outer burial containers, commonly known as vaults or grave liners, but cemeteries may require them because they keep the ground from settling after burial.”

In full-body burials, the casket and its contents eventually decompose. The weight of the earth on top of the casket, plus heavy cemetery maintenance equipment running over it, can cause the casket to collapse over time. Without a grave vault or line, the soil over the grave would sink, harming the appearance of the cemetery grounds and potentially damage the equipment.

Vaults surround the casket and are typically made of reinforced concrete. More expensive vaults include thicker concrete and high-impact plastic or metal liners to further protect the casket.

Grave liners are almost the same thing and serve the same purpose, but cover only the top and sides. The casket rests directly on the soil and the liner is placed over it.

So what does this have to do with cremation? Well, the vault requirement also applies to burying cremated remains in a cemetery, which is a popular choice among families who already may own family plots or simply like it as an affordable option with a permanent resting place. The cremation burial vault is very similar to the standard burial vault, only smaller. The container surrounds the urn and is typically made of high-strength concrete, high-impact plastics and other materials that won’t corrode or degrade.

The cost of the cremation burial vaults range widely. Often, they are purchased through the cemetery or funeral home. However, I did notice they can be purchased on Amazon for as little as $155. You, of course, should check directly with the cemetery before making a purchase.

If you or your family are considering in-ground burial of cremains, I encourage you to contact us at Best Cremation Care to discuss the finer points in detail. For example, if you are planning on burying the remains after cremation, you will need to have a permit from the State that includes the cemetery information. We are also happy to share our experience working with various cemeteries.

Best Cremation Care provides affordable cremation services throughout the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland / Alameda, and San Jose / Santa Clara) and Southern California (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and San Diego County). We are a licensed funeral establishment and have an A+rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Jane LaGrega

About Jane LaGrega

Jane LaGrega is a licensed funeral director and embalmer with over 20 years of experience. A Long Island, New York native, she attended mortuary school in Miami, Florida and also holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. She also proudly served our country and is a US Navy veteran. Jane is passionate about her profession and enjoys helping families through the difficult process of making final arrangements for their loved one.

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