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Are coffins and caskets the same thing? While they serve the same purpose, there are a few differences between the two. So what is the difference between a coffin and a casket? Here, we explain the difference between them so you’re aware of your choices when  arranging a funeral .

What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?

 You might find that people use “coffin” or “casket” to describe the same thing. This is probably because they’re both boxes that we use to hold and carry the body of someone who’s died. But there are differences between the two. The main difference between a coffin and a casket is the shape. Though the materials they’re made with can vary too. While the differences aren’t huge, it’s worth knowing as they can have a significant impact on price. You can find out more about the difference between a coffin vs casket below.

The differences between a coffin and a casket   

Coffin Casket
Tapered shape Rectangular shape
Can be made from various materials like wood, cardboard, metal, willow, seagrass, and wool. Usually made from metal or wood
More affordable option More expensive option

Note that coffin and casket costs will vary depending on where you buy them from and the type you choose.  

What is a coffin?

The word coffin comes from the Old French word “cofin”, which means “little basket”. A coffin is hexagonal, with six sides that are tapered to match the shape of the body inside. This means it’s wider at the top and gets thinner towards the end. Traditionally, coffins have a removable lid and small handles down the side. These handles can be functional (for pallbearers to hold while carrying the coffin) or decorative. Coffins can be made from lots of different materials like wood, metal, cardboard or more eco-friendly options like willow or seagrass. Coffins tend to be the most popular option in the UK.  

What is a casket?  

Caskets are more popular in America. They became popular during the American Civil War of 1861-1865, when the country started to develop its own mourning rituals, different to those of the British. A casket is rectangular, with just four sides instead of six.  Rather than a removable lid, they have a lid that rests on hinges, which can be opened to see the person inside. This could be when you visit a  chapel of rest  or it could be at their funeral or wake if you’re planning an open-casket funeral. Caskets are made from wood or metal so tend to be heavier than a coffin. To help pallbearers  carry this heavier load, they have a long handle on each side (called a casket bar) rather than individual handles. And they also tend to have more luxurious linings than coffins – for example, silk or velvet.  

Is there a price difference between a coffin and a casket?

If you’re deciding between a coffin or casket, it’s a good idea to consider costs. The price of different coffins and caskets varies drastically depending on what you’re looking for. Generally speaking, coffins are cheaper than caskets. This is because caskets are usually made of more expensive materials, inside and out.  

Sun Life estimates that more affordable coffins (made from cardboard or flat pack coffins) range from £170 to £480, while mid-range coffins can be between £350 and £800. Caskets made from solid wood or metal, on the other hand, are estimated to cost from £450 to over £10,000. Learn more about choosing a coffin.

For more specific info on casket vs coffin prices, talk to your chosen funeral director . They’ll be able to give you exact costs and can help you to decide whether a casket or coffin better suits your needs.  

Photo by  Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.