Caskets can be constructed from wood, metal, fiberglass, or even cardboard. The most common woods used are mahogany, cherry, walnut, poplar, pine, and oak. Metal caskets are typically made from steel, copper, or bronze. The type of material impacts the cost, with wood being the most affordable and bronze being the most expensive. Some caskets may have an exterior made of one material and an interior made of another.
Caskets not only hold the deceased’s body but provide mourners with a final memory picture at funerals or memorial services. They can be customized with engravings, religious symbols, or decorative handles and hardware. Most caskets come with a lining and pillow for comfort. Higher-end models may have features like capsules to hold personal mementos or adjustable beds.
What is a Gasket?
A gasket is a seal that fills the space between two mating surfaces to prevent leakage. In funeral caskets, gaskets provide an airtight seal to protect the deceased’s remains. Gaskets are typically made from materials that can compress airtight enough between the casket and lid to block airflow. Common materials used for casket gaskets include:
- Plastic polymers
The gasket creates a tight compression seal when the casket is closed. Most gaskets used in caskets are made from durable materials that maintain their flexibility and sealing capabilities over time.
When the protective lid of the casket is shut, the lid presses the gasket material tightly against the casket body. The compressed gasket conforms to fill any tiny gaps, crevices, or imperfections on the mating surfaces. This blocks airflow and prevents leakage, creating an airtight preservation seal.
High-quality casket gaskets are designed to remain intact for many years while maintaining a tight seal. This provides loved ones peace of mind, knowing that the remains are protected within the closed, airtight casket itself.
Sealed Casket vs Un-sealed Casket
Caskets are available as either sealed/gasketed or non-sealed/non-gasketed. The main difference between sealed and unsealed caskets is that sealed caskets have a rubber gasket that runs along the perimeter of the casket lid. This rubber gasket forms an airtight seal when the casket is closed for burial. The gasket helps prevent air, water, and insects from getting inside the casket.
Sealed caskets with gaskets are commonly made from metal materials like steel, copper, or bronze. The gasket fits into a channel along the casket lid and base. When closed, the gasket compresses to create an airtight seal. Most high-end metal caskets are gasketed.
Non-sealed caskets do not have a gasket and do not form an airtight seal. They allow air and moisture to pass through the casket over time. Non-gasketed caskets are typically made from wood, fiberboard, or cloth covered materials. Some lower-end metal caskets may also be non-sealed. Wood and cloth caskets generally do not have gaskets.
The main purpose of a gasketed casket is to keep the deceased’s remains isolated from the surrounding cemetery environment for a longer period of time. Families may choose a sealed casket for religious reasons or for peace of mind knowing their loved one’s remains are protected. Others find that a gasket is unnecessary. The choice depends on personal preference and budget.
Benefits of a Sealed Casket Vs Unsealed Casket
A sealed or gasketed casket provides a tight seal against air, water, and dirt. This helps preserve the deceased’s remains for a longer period of time. The sealing gasket acts as a protective barrier that surrounds the body.
For many families, choosing a sealed casket provides an added degree of security and peace of mind. Knowing that their loved one’s remains are protected can help provide closure. The sealed casket helps create a more stable environment around the body.
Families may feel reassured that their loved one’s remains will be shielded from the elements by the sealed casket. It minimizes exposure protect the body to external factors over time. There is less chance of air, moisture, insects, or dirt entering the casket if it is properly sealed. This allows the remains to be preserved in a more optimal condition.
Selecting a sealed casket is a personal choice that some families value highly. It provides an extra level of protection and security. For those wanting to guard the remains as fully as possible, a properly sealed casket can help achieve this. It allows families the comfort of knowing their loved one’s body will remain secluded within the sealed casket.
Downsides of a Sealed Casket
While sealed caskets provide the benefit of protecting the remains from water and air, they also come with some downsides that families should consider:
- More Expensive: Sealed caskets with a gasket tend to be more expensive than non-sealed options. The gasket is an added manufacturing cost, so sealed caskets will usually cost several hundred dollars more than a non-sealed casket of similar material and quality.
- Not a Necessity for Burial: A sealed casket is not required for burial by any regulation or law. The sealing gasket provides an added layer of protection but is not imperative for the burial process. Non-sealed caskets, when properly buried underground, will still protect and contain the deceased’s remains.
- Less Natural Burial: Some families prefer a more natural and environmentally-friendly burial. Since sealed caskets include composite materials like rubber gaskets, they are less biodegradable than a simple wood casket. For families that want an eco-conscious interment, a non-sealed casket may align better with their wishes.
The choice between a fully sealed container or a non-sealed casket comes down to personal preference and budget. A gasketed casket provides maximum protection and preservation but is not essential for burial. Families should weigh their priorities and decide if a sealed casket’s extra cost and materials are right for their loved one’s service.
Most Common Sealed Casket Materials
Sealed caskets are commonly constructed from metal materials that allow for a tight seal. Here are some of the most common sealed casket materials:
- Stainless Steel – Stainless steel caskets are among the most durable and secure sealed caskets. They are constructed from high-quality steel and come in various gauges from 18 gauge on the lighter end to 16 gauge for maximum durability. Stainless steel caskets have a beautiful mirror finish, providing the ultimate protective barrier.
- Copper – Copper caskets provide another elite sealed casket option. Copper is a prestigious metal known for its ornate beauty and durability. Copper caskets feature meticulous construction and soldered seams that create an impenetrable barrier. They deliver the ultimate in casket sealing performance.
- Steel – Standard steel caskets come in both sealed and non-sealed options. Sealed steel caskets provide economical security compared to premium metals. They deliver fundamental sealing properties at lower price points. Standard gauges for steel caskets range from 20 gauge to 18 gauge.
- Bronze – Bronze caskets fall between copper and steel in terms of cost and protection. They provide an exquisite bronze finish that gives families an elegant sealed casket choice. Bronze is heavier and more durable than steel.
The most common sealed casket materials are stainless steel, copper, standard steel, and bronze in order of highest to lowest cost. All these metal caskets can provide a fully gasketed casket for families that desire the protective qualities of a sealed burial container.
Most Common Non-Sealed Materials
Non-sealed caskets are typically made from wood, fiberboard, or cardboard. These materials allow some airflow into and out of the casket.
Wood caskets are a popular choice for a more natural, non-sealed option. Different types of wood, like oak, cherry, walnut, pine, or mahogany, can be used. Wood caskets have a more rustic, simple aesthetic. They also decompose more readily than sealed materials.
Fiberboard or cardboard caskets are the most affordable, non-sealed option. They are made from thick, dense cardboard material. Fiberboard caskets can be painted or covered in cloth for decoration. They are lightweight and provide a simple, economical choice.
Other non-sealed materials like rattan, bamboo, seagrass, or willow branches are options for even more natural, biodegradable caskets. These caskets integrate back into the environment more seamlessly.
Overall, non-sealed caskets provide simpler, more affordable options than sealed ones. They allow families seeking a more natural burial to avoid some of the permanence of sealed materials. The tradeoff is less protection from water and air over time. But for many families, the lower cost and eco-friendly materials are preferable.
There can be a significant cost difference between sealed and non-sealed caskets. Sealed caskets tend to cost more due to the additional materials and manufacturing processes required to install the gasket.
Factors that affect the costs for both sealed and non-sealed caskets include:
- Materials used – metals like bronze and copper are more expensive than steel or wood. Exotic woods raise the price.
- Ornate designs, carvings, finishings – More intricate details and finishes increase costs.
- Manufacturer reputation – Top brands command higher pricing.
- Customization – Any custom engraving, panels, or lining add to price.
- Size – Oversized caskets cost more.
So, while basic non-sealed caskets start lower, sealed caskets span many luxury models. The gasket and sealing add cost, though premium materials and detailing can drive up prices for sealed or non-sealed caskets. Families should weigh their budget, preferences, and sealing needs when deciding on standard, mid-range, or high-end casket options.
Considerations for Families
When choosing between a sealed or non-sealed casket, families should reflect on the burial wishes and budget for their loved one. Speaking with a funeral director can provide guidance, as they are knowledgeable about the options available to funeral homes. Most importantly, families should focus on honoring their loved one in a way that is meaningful to them.
Some questions for families to consider:
- What were your loved one’s wishes for their burial? Did they express any preferences regarding having a sealed casket?
- What is your budget for the funeral arrangements? Sealed caskets often cost more than non-sealed ones. Make sure your decisions align with what you can afford.
- How can this casket selection honor your loved one’s life and legacy? Pick options that represent their personality and what they care about.
- Do you prefer the preservation benefits of a sealed casket? Or are you comfortable with natural processes in a non-sealed one?
- Does your cultural or religious background influence your perspectives on sealed vs. non-sealed caskets? Discuss this with your funeral director.
- Will there be a viewing? Sealed caskets may provide better preservation for this.
Most importantly, focus on what would make your loved one proud and what brings you comfort during this difficult time. Selecting the right casket and funeral home is about honoring their life in your way.
Choosing Between Sealed Caskets and Unsealed Caskets
Choosing between a sealed or gasketed casket and a non-sealed casket is important when planning a funeral. The key differences are cost, materials, and personal preferences around preserving the body.
Sealed caskets have a rubber seal or gasket that creates an airtight seal when closed. This helps prevent air, water, and insects from entering the casket. Sealed caskets are generally more expensive and made from premium materials like metal or hardwood. The airtight environment can slow natural decomposition. This may be preferable for some families, while others may find it unnecessary or counter to religious beliefs about the body returning to the earth.
Non-sealed caskets do not have a gasket, allowing natural airflow into the casket. They are typically cheaper and made from wood, fiberboard, or cloth-covered materials. The body will decompose more naturally in a non-sealed casket. This can comfort families with strong feelings about the natural decomposition process after death.
Ultimately, the choice depends on personal and religious outlooks, budget, and intentions for visitation or viewing. There are understandable reasons some may prefer each option. Families should consider what matters most and select a casket that aligns with those values and needs. With open and compassionate discussion, funeral professionals can guide you to make the best decision for your unique situation.