When you are making funeral arrangements for your loved one, you might find yourself having to decide between a coffin or a casket. It is the centerpiece of a funeral to provide a comfortable resting place for the body, and choosing one is a basic part of funeral planning. A funeral is a personal affair to honour the deceased’s life and pay your respects, thus every decision leading to the funeral service requires the utmost consideration.

Ever wondered what’s the difference between the two of them? There are elaborate distinctions between coffins and caskets – which we will cover below to help you in your decision.

Getting down to the basics

Coffins and caskets are words that are both used to refer to a container for burial or cremation. But the main difference can be identified by its shape. A casket is 4 sided and rectangular shaped, while a coffin is 6 sided and tapered from the chest level and narrow at the bottom – similar to the typical proportions of a human body. Both can come with a lid that can be half-opened to allow viewing of the deceased at the funeral service or wake.

However, the distinction is hardly noticeable in present times as most funeral directors today offer both selections and refer to them as ‘casket’ to soften their terminology. This allows them to impart a more soothing tone and a gentler approach to conversations when discussing with grieving family members.

What should you consider 

Selecting a casket is a very personal decision and there are various factors for consideration such as material, style and design. It will also depend on the individual budget, religion and other preferences.

In general, there are three types of materials used in caskets: metal, wood and eco-friendly.

  • Metal

Metal caskets include stainless steel, carbon steel, bronze, and copper amongst others. The main benefit of choosing one is due to its resistance to corrosion and rust, especially in inhospitable environment underground. Plus, the usage of metal materials can be easily fashioned and offers a stylish look. While you can be assured of quality and durability with metal caskets, the only downside is its premium price.

  • Wood

Wooden caskets are more commonly used, as they are priced cheaper than their metal counterparts without sacrificing quality. They can be made from either hardwood or engineered wood. Some of the materials chosen include oak, mahogany, pine and cherry, but the popular ones in Singapore are teak and chengai. Hardwood has a higher density than softwood and is generally more expensive because their trees tend to grow slowly. As for engineered wood, they can be made out of fibreboard, chipboard or plywood and provide a less costly alternative compared to hardwoods.

  • Eco-friendly

Fairly new to the scene, eco-friendly caskets are growing in Singapore for those who are conscious about the environment. They use renewable and sustainable materials such as bamboo, teak, hemp, which are biodegradable. Additionally, there won’t be chemical treatments or metal hinges on eco-friendly caskets so they can decompose easily without causing harm to the environment.

Other factors  

Besides the material type, there are other factors to consider as well, such as the casket’s exterior. Depending on your religious traditions and budget, you can choose to have additional details added to the casket to increase its aesthetic value and reflect the deceased’s life. For instance, in Christian funeral, it would be more appropriate to have Christian or religious iconography as accents on the casket.

You may also have a personal preference for the internal fabric lining in the casket – most are made out of satin, cotton, polyester or velvet. For added personalization, you can opt for finer embroidery and a more detailed tailoring, which a funeral director can certainly provide help in.

Making your final choice

When it comes to planning a special and unique funeral, selecting a casket is a personal choice. With many choices and options possible today, the final selection can be as unique as the individual to truly reflect their life and personality.