What is the Difference Between Porcelain, Stoneware and Earthenware Ceramic?

A lot of the times people are puzzled by the usage of these terms and their differences; the fact is they are all types of traditional ceramics. They are all made using the basic material clay. There are other sub categories of ceramics besides these three, so read on.

The differences arise when different clay compositions are used at different firing temperatures and the resultant porosity after firing. Remember raw clay materials if not fired will simply dissolve in water!

  • Bone China as the name suggests has a component of bone ash mostly cattle which has been burnt and ground to a fine powder. It is held in high regard as it is the most expensive and of the highest quality. It is famous for its delicate look and is commonly referred to as just “china”. The bone ash compound gives it the translucent and white look. It is obtained by firing at a very high temperature. Water absorption is 0%.
  • Porcelain is similar to bone china but is less translucent since it does not contain bone ash and as a result of which is also less expensive than bone china. It is ideal for use in microwave and conventional oven. The water absorption rate is 0 to 1%.
  • Earthenware is the cheapest form among all types of ceramic. Since it is fired at low temperatures the water absorption is high and thus is not strong as the other varieties. However beautiful painting can be easily done on them as a result of their absorbing power. It is hand decorated and glazed if to be used for food. Ironstone and dolomite are two quality variations in earthenware.
  • Stoneware is the strongest of the lot. As it has a higher percentage of china stone than earthenware it is non-porous. It can be easily used in microwaves and is less expensive than bone china and porcelain.