In order to answer the question, "What is Stoneware?" we have to establish some basic
Stoneware's maturation temperature ranges from about 1200 °C to 1315 °C (2192 °F to
2399 °F). In essence, it is man-made stone. One widely recognized definition is from the
Combined Nomenclature of the European Communities, which states:
"Stoneware, which, though dense, impermeable and hard enough to resist scratching by a
steel point, differs from porcelain because it is more opaque, and normally only partially
vitrified. It may be vitreous or semi-vitreous. It is usually coloured grey or brownish
because of impurities in the clay used for its manufacture, and is normally glazed.
In contrast, earthenware is fired at lower temperatures and is not impervious to liquids.
Porcelain, which some consider to be a type of stoneware, is distinguished as being whiter
than stoneware and always vitreous. Some porcelain bodies are translucent after firing.
Firing a piece of pottery to too high a temperature will result in warping or melting.
Vitreous clay bodies can be made at different temperatures ranges, but they are typically
fired in the stoneware/porcelain range. Fired stoneware absorbs up to 5% water, porcelain
0%, and earthenware up to 10%. Earthenware, when moist, is typically not freeze resistant.
Clay refers to a group of minerals that generally exhibit plasticity when mixed with water,
and which chemically primarily consist of alumina and silica. Potters refer to combinations
of clays mixed with other materials as clay bodies. Different kinds of clay bodies are created
by mixing additives, such as feldspar, grog, quartz, flint, many other minerals are used and
these can include spodumene, wollastonite to modify clays.
Clay bodies can thereby be formulated to fire at a range of temperatures. Darker clays often
contain iron and other metal oxide impurities. The clay used for porcelain and white
stoneware clay bodies contain very little of these impurities.
So what's the difference between Stoneware and Earthenware?
The bottom line is that if one is looking for a good set of dinnerware that is
affordable, can hold up to high temperatures, seems nice and is safe to
microwave or put in the dishwasher, stoneware is what one needs.
|This little chart will help you know the difference right away!
|Impervious to water
||Not impervious to water
|Color: Buff or terra cotta
|Look: like pottery
||Look: rough white
|Looks great undecorated or decorated.
||Can only use when decorated.
|Can withstand high/low temp.
||Cannot withstand high/low temp.
||Not oven safe
|Suited for household use.
||Suited for decorative use.
|Is not porous
|Bottom is unglazed
||Bottom is glazed
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