What's the Difference Between a Casket and a Coffin?
Many people use the two words interchangeably, but there are differences between a casket and a coffin.
Many people used the word "casket" and the word "coffin" interchangeably because they both serve the same purposes. However, there are some differences between the two containers for a deceased person. The major difference is their appearance. They do not look the same. The only thing they have in common is that they hold the remains of a deceased for burial and for display during a funeral service. It is the family's preference whether they choose a casket or coffin for their deceased loved one.
The centerpiece that you usually see at funeral services and graveside ceremonies today is more than likely a casket and not a coffin. That's because caskets are more popular in the United States.
A casket is a specially designed rectangular-shaped container with four sides and a lid on hinges. Rails used as handles when moving the casket are placed along each side of the casket. Caskets can be used for both burials and cremations.
Caskets are more expensive than coffins. Their prices depend on the material used to construct them. There are several types of caskets. Those made out of metal and wood are more popular than the other types.
Wood caskets are constructed from oak, maple, poplar, pine, mahogany, or walnut. Metal caskets can be made from bronze, copper, or stainless steel. Steel caskets are durable but less expensive and easier to get. Cremation caskets hold the deceased's remains before they are put in the cremation chamber. They can be made out of wood, wicker, particleboard or cardboard because they are "alternative containers." Green or biodegradable caskets are made out of natural, biodegradable materials or recyclable materials including bamboo, cardboard, organic cotton, and willow. Rental caskets can be metal or wood. They have a removable insert that allows them to be used more than once. The deceased’s body is placed in a simple box or container and then positioned in the rental casket to give the appearance that the body is in a “real” casket. DIY caskets are those that people build themselves by using inexpensive materials. DIY casket kits are sold online and in bookstores.
A coffin is similar to a casket, and it serves the same purposes to hold, transport, and bury the remains. The major difference comes in the shape of the container. Unlike a casket, a coffin has six or even eight sides and the top of the container is wider than the bottom.
A coffin is in a distinct hexagonal or octagonal shape. It is designed to conform to the shape of a human’s body. Therefore, it is wider at the top for the shoulders and narrower at the bottom for the feet.
Another difference is the lid. Unlike a casket where the lid is hinged, most coffins have removable lids that can be lifted off of the container.
Like caskets, coffins have a cloth interior. The exterior of a coffin is different from the rails on a casket.
Coffins are usually cheaper because the tapered shape requires less material to be used.
Cremations have become more popular these days. Some families choose to rent a regular casket for the funeral service. The casket has a removable bed and liner which are replaced after each use. There are also rental caskets with an outer shell that looks like a traditional casket and a cardboard box that fits inside the shell. At the end of the service, the inner box is removed and the deceased is cremated inside the cardboard box but not the casket.
For direct cremations, cardboard boxes are sometimes used inside coffins. The coffins are made of wood or materials like particleboard or low-density fibreboard.
Walmart Sells Caskets
Most people don't know that Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, sells caskets. The caskets can be purchased only online. There are 20 models to chose from. The lowest-priced casket costs $995. The highest-priced casket costs $4,000. Any casket can be shipped within 48 hours. The retailer advertises caskets but not coffins.
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