Let’s Talk About: Scattering Ashes

(Logo thanks to O’Connell Family Funeral Homes with locations in several states.)

More and more people are planning to be cremated when they pass, and their cremains scattered………. in a garden, over a cliff, in water or in a designated spot in an established cemetery. What are the rules for scattering cremains in Washington State?
According to a bit in our Spokesman newspaper (from Jared Gendron of the News Tribune, Tacoma), YES, you can scatter the cremains of a loved one in Washington but there are caveats.

  • Ashes can be scattered in most public and state owned land with permission from whomever controls the land.
  • Permission from the Chief Park Ranger is needed for National Parks.
  • Ashes can be scattered into any bodies of water in Washington.
  • Ashes can be scattered in the ocean beyond the lowest tide mark.
  • Ashes can be buried in the ocean as long as it’s three nautical miles from land and the EPA must be notified of the event.
  • Only human cremains, not pets or other animals, may be dispersed into the ocean.

Casting: Make sure to toss the ashes with the wind and make sure nobody is standing downwind. 

Trenching: Burying the ashes in a hole/trench at least a foot deep.

Raking: Placing the cremains in soft soil and raking them into the soil. 

Water: Keep in mind that some cremains may sink instantly while others may float (for a time). 

** In 2004, our family gathered at the family cabin on Bottle Bay, Lake Pend Oreille, to pour our father’s ashes off the end of the dock. It was a very special day for all of us. 

One comment on “Let’s Talk About: Scattering Ashes

  1. Sheena Wadlinger says:

    Thanks for this very informative article. Will need to check the rules in our state. We have done a couple of scatterings this year and, fortunately, we didn’t break any rules.

Comments are closed.