Soldering with cremated ashes

We have a customer whose father died recently and was cremated. She
would like a pendant made that would contain a small amount of the
ashes. Our idea is to build a triangular box (in 10kt wg) with a
design on the front of the customers choice. We would build the box,
put the ashes inside, and then solder the last side panel in place.
Does anyone have any experience with this who can offer advice? Would
soldering destroy the ashes or would the ashes inhibit the soldering.
thanks for your help.


Calcium oxide(the bone residue) is pretty indestructible, having
been through the heat of a crematorium.

so there wont be a problem with that.

however soldering a container shut has its issues. the main one
being the last millimeter or so of seam.

Unless the contents and casing are at an even temperature, as it
cools the molten solder gets sucked in making a blow hole. the same
happens when reheating it to fill this pin hole.

The alternative is to make the casket? in 2 parts, with an tight
interlocking lip say 1/4in deep., use an epoxy 2 part resin and
press the 2 parts together with the resin in between the 2 lips. will
never come undone.

I was reading an article about spontaneous human combustion
(spontaneous human combustion is bogus btw, and I was reading the
article because I was bored on the train), but the article diverged
to cremation.

Human bones will not turn to ash when cremated, you need to crush
them up, so bone remains will be okay as your soldering torch wont
get hot enough to vaporise bone.

The ashes effecting the soldering process. don’t know.

There is a warning here burning human remains is not a pleasant
thing to do, all sorts of nasties can happen. Seriously odour
particles come directly from the odour source, personally I wouldn’t
want dead human up my nose.

You are way braver than I.

Regards Charles A.

The ashes shouldnt affect the soldering in any way, they have
already been burnt so no volatiles are left. Bone burnt to a lower
temperature used to be used for cupellation so to be sure of avoiding
any problems just dont fill the chamber to the very top to avoid

I made some small copper vials with threaded screw off tops that are
connected to a bail from precious metal clay, and decorated the vial
with Celtic style patterns. One person used one for lock of baby
hair, another used it for cremated remains. The top is very tight so
the contents are protected.

Sharon in Sanford, Florida

When using ash wear a respirator it is possible to get diseases from
dust as with any other particulate. Let alone the smell. I use my
mask every day when soldering, casting doing anything in the shop. I
inhaled tin when I was younger and making figures in rubber molds of
horses and knights. The metal cools so fast it lined my nose very
nasty important lesson learned MASKS may be uncomfortable but, the
alternative is very very uncomfortable. If you cannot breath you
cannot think of anything else. Trust know from experience.


We have (unfortunately) done this in our workshop several times.
It’s messy and the ashes are not fine like you would expect, some
bone fragments can be quite large! Wear a mask. But no problems with
soldering the box closed.

No the soldering wouldn’t destroy the ashes., nor inhibit soldering-
BUT weird as it may sound/be. some states pretend they can regulate
cremains* : For* instance I’m supposed to send in a sheet to the
state when I dispose of any members of my family’s ashes…
(considering all 3 immediate members of my family died within a
blazingly fast 12 months, all accidentally and unexpectedly over the
past 12.5 months- [“Surprise!” , said the universe ! ]- what do I do
if someone wants part of one person’s out of that sealed container
and one of the dead wants part of theirs spread in another country
and various locales around the earth, and another wants them mixed
with another’s, while a couple of relatives want portions of that
person’s remains? Each is sealed by the crematorium and/or funeral
home(s)… and breaking the seal means, what, I’m supposed to go back
and have them resealed each time (provided they are not all
dispersed/dispensed)…So if you are one to respect the cremains
police laws, you may want to check about handling them as they are
supposed to be handled in specific ways considering they are
considered a bio-hazard (which, in fact, they could be, and no, the
heat of the furnace does not- supposedly- destroy any potentially
inhalable or dispersible bio-toxins like leprosy or AIDS says the
crematorium(s), and/ or the States that have them say that to sustain
the regulations, as ridiculous as they are, at least in my
experience, in two states where I have quite recently had to deal
with funerary arrangements…) and then does one need to get the
remaining cremains recertified as “resealed” along with new
documentation to submit to the State(s) that the remains are no
longer in one’s possession, etc.

Back to making the piece. I saw many many ridiculous containers sold
for extremely high prices to be used for cremains. From the ordinary
anodized aluminum “pill containers” with the small gaskets sold at
every druggist’s in this town to silver phials, and vials and
soapstone carved containers from India one sees at dollar stores or
"metaphysical" or health food stores as containers, but marked up
into the hundreds. The sterling screw top vials were simple castings
of motifs I would personally never consider buying much less casting,
like hearts or shooting stars that looked quite adolescent in my
opinion. But there they were. Starting at $180.00 US for a mass cast
$10.00 item one would find at a “head shop”…The only feature that
was worth recording into one’s brain was the removable inner screw
top vial of the anodized pill containers. It’s a great way to keep
cremains inside an outer piece of jewelry that could be made to not
be obviously cremains…

Hinged pieces if you were to design one should use a security latch
so it can’t open unexpectedly and perhaps have the lid fit somewhat
recessed onto a bearing of square wire regardless of the shape as
long as you are using plate for the top as opposed to a ground stone
stopper or something of that sort. the lid would then be level with
the top of the piece and could even be glued if necessary to avoid
having to solder the piece in place (round “lids” could be fashioned
similarly with a tension collar"bearing" as you would use to bezel
set a stone. when done properly you can hear the item snap into place
in the collar with the bearing fitting perfectly Part of the design
issues are considering whether or not there will be an easily
fillable insert or will the cremains go directly into the container.
Does the container need to be sealed “permanently” by state or other
law? If there would be a window in the design (let’s presume it’s a
glass and silver or gold window viewable from any side) the
soldering would be done beforehand to assemble the piece with a cold
connected or tension fit lid, if not hinged or using wire as
insta-threading if a rounded shape is designed. You may want to take
a look at the funeral homes’ offerings and prices before quoting the
job too as it’s a highly profitable item if bought through them and
custom jobs sent out through the funeral directors or crematoriums
begin at $ 300-350.00 US for an item I would probably fabricate for a
total of, maybe $100.00 in fine silver .I’m not saying bilk the
client at this time of bereavement as funeral Homes attempt/do on the
other hand don’t sell your job short…

Or how about making the pendent from two “cups”, one of which would
fit inside the other, with the larger one just a fraction deeper than
the smaller one. Put the cremains inside the smaller, fit the larger
over it, and turn the edge of the larger one over the smaller inner
one like a bezel over a stone. This would mean there would be no
closed vessel to solder, and the cremains wouldn’t get exposed to

Good luck!

Hi Charlie,

from memory cremation is far hotter than soldering temperatures
3,000 degrees celsius.

The problem will be soldering an enclosed space, you could be making
a pipe bomb.

Drill a small hole in the back solder on side and then quickly fill
the hole on back with solder.

I think on bench tube Giacomo uses this technique.

Xtines Jewels


actually human spontaneous combustion is a real medical condition.

Extremely rare. I thought it was bogus till I read a medical article
years ago.

In some cases humans can exude phosphorous and then sweat which
ignites the phosphorous.

These details may be incorrect, it was at least 10 years ago, when I
read the article.

Xtines Jewels

Hi Richard,

actually human spontaneous combustion is a real medical condition. 

It’s been proven that a person does not spontaneously combust. The
conditions where this appears to happen has been replicated. Some
experiments were conducted in 1998, using pigs wrapped in blankets.

Where there have been thought to have combusted was actually due to
a very slow burning process, similar to the way a candle burns. The
process is called wicking, and happens when the person is already

Basically the persons clothes catch alight, and then their body fat
liquifies and forms a reverse candle where the wick is on the
outside. This process makes a intense localised flame that turns the
body to ashes including bone, can melt and soften plastics in the
vicinity, but leaving everything else untouched. The extremities like
arms and legs having less fat in them may be left intact.

Regards Charles A.

P. S. Atlantis also never existed, but I like the jewellery and
artifacts created by Hollywood prop-men for the movies about it :wink:

Thanks for all the many responses to my original question on this.
You all have affirmed my intent to bulld this thing and solder it
closed permanently. We will be making it using the customer’s old
gold, (another recent popular topic and something we do all the
time). I’ll let you know how it turns out.