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Are Cremation Tattoos Safe?

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Last Updated: June 11, 2024 | 7 min read | Leave a Comment

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Woman holding a dog with a dog tattoo on her back.
Image credit: Julia Pavaliuk, Shutterstock

If you’ve recently lost your dog or they are about to cross the rainbow bridge and you’re looking for a way to remember them, you might have come across cremation tattoos. Some might think it is strange to have a loved one’s ashes tattooed on their skin. But for others, canine ash tattoos allow them to keep their special buddy with them forever. 

Most people ask, “Are cremation tattoos safe?” When done by a professional, cremation tattoos are a safe way to honor your dog’s memory. As a tattoo and dog lover, I explore the idea of dog cremation tattoos, the process, and how to find a cremation tattoo artist. And, in my opinion, the cutest dog cremation tattoo I’ve seen yet. So, let’s jump right in. 

What Are Cremation Tattoos?

Tattoos have been around for millennia and practiced by many ancient societies, such as the Egyptians and Nubians. Why do people get tattoos? There are loads of reasons. Most of them center around being able to express their individuality, whether it’s religion, feelings, or artistic nature. Memorial tattoos are becoming popular as a reminder of someone you love.

Cremation tattoos are like any other tattoo, except they contain the ashes of a loved one. You can create a cremation tattoo in two ways, which I explore later. Some think having a loved one’s ashes inked into their skin is strange. But for many, it’s the same as having ash jewelry. Except it’s permanent and more personal; they are forever with you, and unlike a piece of jewelry, you cannot lose it. 

Have you recently lost your best pal? We have a guide on how to deal with your dog’s death. It’s one of the most challenging times in any dog owner’s life, so please check it out. It gives you tips and offers comfort during this difficult time.

Cremation Tattooing Process

There are two ways to create a memorial tattoo. There is no evidence that one way is better, and opinions vary due to the lack of research. Let’s explore both methods. 

1. Manually Mix The Ashes With The Ink

The tattoo artist manually grinds and infuses the ashes directly into the tattoo ink that the tattooist uses for regular tattoos. Most sites ask you to bring a tablespoon of ashes for the appointment, and the tattooist mixes a tiny amount of them into the ink. Not every tattooist is comfortable with cremation tattoos or has experience with them. So you have to research tattoo artists to find one that does both your tattoo and your beloved pet justice. 

ProsCons
You have control over the ashes at all timeLess control over bacteria exposure
Likely to be cheaper Not all artists are comfortable with this
Have more choices of ink

2. Laboratory Infusion Of The Ashes And Ink

A small number of companies offer this service. This process utilizes laboratory equipment to reduce the ashes to the molecular size of the pigment. The ashes are then infused with the ink, similar to the process of converting ashes into diamonds. Companies who offer this service state that this is the only way to achieve complete and safe sterilization. Once this is complete, the company mails the tattoo ink directly to you, and you can take this ink with you to your tattoo appointment. Because the tattooist doesn’t have to manually grind and mix the ashes themselves, you are likely to find more artists prepared to work with pre-infused ink.

ProsCons
Ashes and potential bacteria are controlled in a laboratory settingHave to send the ashes by mail
More artists are willing to work with pre-infused inkLikely to be more expensive
Many feel this is the safest option

Are Cremation Tattoos Safe?

There hasn’t been much research on cremation memorial tattoos, and there is no evidence to say they are unsafe. During a cremation, the furnace reaches between 1,400 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing the risk of infection from the body’s bacteria or bodily fluids. The only chance of disease comes from how the ashes are handled between the cremation process and creating the tattoo

Tattooists grind the ashes into a fine consistency to blend them with the ink. If the ashes are not fine enough or there is too much, the skin is likely to reject the ink. Some tattooists place the fine ash directly into the ink, whereas some bake the ashes to reduce the risk of bacteria. All equipment used in the process must be sterilized to reduce the risk of bacterial spread and infection. Most tattoo artists use an autoclave for this purpose.

How To Choose A Tattoo Artist To Create A Dog Cremation Tattoo

First, you need to find a tattooist happy to create your artwork. It’s wise to research and identify the most qualified artist in your region willing to create an ash memorial tattoo. Ask about their experience and look for independent online reviews. Once you have found them, you must consider certain factors to know you’re picking the right person for the job.

  1. You Need To Like Their Style. Most tattooists have a style, and you need to decide if their style aligns with your vision. 
  2. Ask To See Their Tattoo Licence. Tattoo licensing and rules vary from state to state. Check with your city, county, or state health department for local licensing and regulation information. Not all tattooists are required to have a license, but most reputable artists have one. I would only get a tattoo from an artist with an individual license, especially for a cremation tattoo, but this is a personal choice. 
  3. Inquire About Their Safety Courses & Procedures. To obtain a license, many states require artists to complete first aid and bloodborne pathogens (BBP) training through an infection control course. These courses demonstrate that the artists are familiar with how to tattoo safely. 
  4. Ask Them About How They Handle The Ashes. You need to know that they handle the ashes safely and take measures to minimize the risk of infection. 

If you’re happy with the above, it’s wise to consult a doctor or dermatologist about any concerns you may have regarding the procedure’s safety. At the time of writing, there aren’t any rules or requirements surrounding cremation tattoos. So, you’ll need to go with your gut on this. But follow the above steps, and you are more likely to find a safe tattooist who minimizes the chance of infection or rejection. 

Some individuals state that their tattoos containing ashes have been itchier than a normal tattoo during the healing process. But every tattoo heals differently and commonly itch, so this may or may not be connected to the ash content. 

Tattoos With Cremation Ashes

An example of a dog cremation tattoo is Bronson, the Bull Terrier, and his mom, Robyn, from the UK. As a Bull Terrier mix mom, I have a soft spot for this tattoo; it’s incredible! Watch this video from Robyn’s TikTok account, which shows the process and the result, along with some sweet videos of Bronson along the way.

@robynmoscrop

Another video of my memorial tattoo process credit to @heavyhandsgeorge (Instagram page) #dogtattoo #dogmemorialtattoo #memorialtattoo #dogtattoo #dog #englishbullterrier #englishbullterriersoftiktok #bullterrier #bullterrierlover #realismotattoo #blacksndwhitetattoo #tattoo #animaltattoo

♬ Paper Birds (3 min) – Jordan Halpern Schwartz

Other Ways To Remember Your Dog

Sharing stories of your dog after losing them is one way to begin healing. You can also create other sweet keepsakes, such as a photo book, or place their collar around a flower pot with a beautiful flower or shrub for the yard. If you’re unsure that an ash memorial tattoo is right for you, watch this quick video for more ideas on remembering your dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve got a question about cremation tattoos and you don’t see yours below, let us know what it is in the comments, and we’ll find the answer for you. 

Who Does Cremation Tattoos Near Me?

This is the most frequently asked question about cremation tattoos but the most difficult to answer. Research artists you like, and contact them to see if they offer this service and in a manner you feel comfortable with. If they don’t, they might know someone who does. Join online tattoo forums or social media groups and ask questions. Ash memorial tattoos are becoming popular, so finding an artist should be easy enough. 

Are Tattoos With Ashes Unhygienic?

No, they are not unhygienic as long as the tattoo artist follows the standard safety procedures expected from tattoo artists, particularly around infection control. Ask if they’ve undergone BBP training and how they handle and infuse the ashes into the ink.

Do Cremation Tattoos Look Different Than Regular Tattoos?

No, cremation tattoos look no different from regular tattoos. The quality, color, and durability should be the same as those expected from a standard tattoo. When selecting an artist, looking at their portfolio to demonstrate their skill, style, and tattoo quality is crucial to the research.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Cremation Tattoo?

The cost of a regular tattoo depends on various factors, such as the artist and their experience and skill, demand, location, size, and more. Because of the extra time and expertise involved, you can expect to be charged more for a cremation tattoo. A tattooist who manually grinds and mixes the ashes might charge a flat fee for the service. If you want to purchase a single bottle of ash-infused tattoo ink from a third party, these typically cost between $150 and $290. If you want multiple colors, you need to buy a bottle for each color.

More About The Dog Cremation Process

If you’re interested in dog memorial tattoos and how to get one, you need to know more about the dog cremation process. You might also want to research the different types and costs of cremation, as private cremation is necessary if you want a tattoo containing your pup’s ashes. 

Do you have a cremation tattoo with your dog’s ashes? Or are you thinking about getting one? We’d love to hear your stories and thoughts on this controversial topic. Please let us know in the comments below.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Emma is a dog mom to two rescue dogs, and she also loves tattoos, much to her own mom’s dismay. Emma has a sentimental tattoo for her daughter and is currently in the process of creating one with an artist of her first dog, Bonkers. She knows what to look for when searching for a tattoo artist and how important it is to find the right person. Emma works with a professional and experienced team to give her readers the best, most accurate, and up-to-date information.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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