Ceramic vs. Porcelain Dishes – What’s the Difference?

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Picture this: you have guests over for dinner, and you really like these people and want to impress them. You’ve been practising this delicious recipe from the Top 10 Bulgarian Foods article you found online a few weeks ago, and now it’s time to serve it for real!

Now you take out your beautiful dinner set from the cabinet and serve your guests. The cooked dish you worked so hard on looks stunning, and your guests have a great time, and now you have an invitation to their place next weekend. Happy ending!

Your dinner set plays a huge role in your home. Most people spend hours searching for the perfect dishes that go with the dining room and even the kitchen in terms of colour and pattern. But besides that, it is important to check the durability of the dish set you want to buy. We’ll learn about ceramic and porcelain dishes in this article, so let’s get started!

What is Ceramic?

Ceramic is more like a general term for pots or dishes created from clay, shaped, and then heated at high temperatures to harden. Ceramic dishes are less dense, tough, hard, and durable. They are normally glazed to add colour to the dishes and are safe to use in ovens because they can handle high temperatures. Ceramics can be used to make knives, cookware sets, and even non-stick pans!

The word “ceramic” comes from a Greek word meaning “of pottery” and “potter’s clay” or “pottery.” Humans have been making ceramic materials for over 26,000 years by subjecting heat to silica and clay and fusing them. Traditionally, the raw materials for ceramic include alumina, tungsten carbide, kaolinite, and silicon carbide.

Brief History

As mentioned before, the creation of ceramic materials has been a common practice for about 26,000 years, and there’s a rich history of ceramics. The earliest ones were not dishes but sculptures found in southern central Europe. Interestingly enough, the earliest pottery we know was created by mixing clay with animal products and baked in kilns at about 800 degrees Celsius.

About 19,000 years ago, actual fragments of pottery were found and then a decamillennium (a period of 10,000 years) later, making pottery became a common practice. Today, ceramic Dutch ovens have come into existence to make our work easier!

Types of Ceramic Dishes

There are three main types of ceramic, namely Stoneware, Earthenware, and Porcelain. Following are the basic differences among the three, so we are more aware of what we want when we’re making a dish purchase:

Stoneware: Durable, hard, non-porous, and strong. These are made at temperatures ranging from 2,000-2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, different colours can be added to this type of dishes unlike porcelain, which is white. Stoneware is also more opaque than porcelain.

Earthenware: Little bit fragile, porous, thick, and heavy. This dish is made at comparatively lower temperatures, i.e. 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. These are made by initially firing them, glazing, and then firing them a second time. Also, these dishes are less expensive than the other types.

Porcelain: White, translucent, and very hard. Dishes of this type are made at high temperatures ranging from 2,300-2,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Porcelain is less opaque than stoneware.

What is Porcelain?

Porcelain is one of the types of ceramic and is hardened at higher temperatures. It takes more time to get manufactured as compared to Stoneware and Earthenware and is recognized as the most esteemed and distinguished type of pottery due to its strength, delicacy, and graceful white colour. It is also used in the making of decorative items such as tables, decoration pieces, and vessels.

“Porcelain” comes from the Italian word “porcellana”, which means “cowrie shell.” This is because of its resemblance with shell surface (light yet dignified). Generally, the words used to describe porcelain are vitrified, impermeable, translucent, white, and resonant.  Traditionally, the raw materials for porcelain include kaolinite, feldspar, glass, quartz, alabaster, bone ash, and petuntse.

Brief History

The history of porcelain is quite a long and rich one, comprising the spread and use of porcelain in different dynasties of China, Japan, and Europe. The origin of porcelain was in China, and it made its way to Europe in the 16th century when an attempt was made to recreate Medici Porcelain, but the attempt wasn’t completely successful. Portuguese traders brought samples of kaolin home that they discovered in China in the early 16th century, and by 1712, many Chinese techniques regarding the creation of porcelain materials were revealed, and people started to practice them on the regular.

Types of Porcelain

 There are three main types of porcelain, namely Bone China, Soft-paste, and Hard-paste. Following are the basic differences among the three, so we are more aware of what we want when we’re making a dish purchase:

Bone China: As the name indicates, it is highly translucent, white, and is the hardest type of porcelain. It is made from bone ash, kaolin, and feldspar. Feldspar is the modern replacement for china stone used in ancient times.

Soft-paste Porcelain: This type is known as “artificial porcelain” because it is not subjected to very high temperatures and doesn’t involve a lot of special raw materials, and for these reasons, it cracks as soon as it comes into contact with hot liquid.

Hard-paste Porcelain: In contrast with soft-paste, hard-paste porcelain is referred to as “true porcelain” and is subjected to very high temperatures and is made from feldspar, petuntse, and kaolin.

So What’s the Difference Between Ceramic and Porcelain Dishes?

To summarize everything we’ve covered so far, here are some key differences between ceramic and porcelain:

  • Porcelain is more resistant to stains and is lighter than ceramic.
  • Ceramic is opaque and can be of different colours, whereas porcelain is typically white and translucent.
  • Ceramic dishes are preferred for cooking and everyday use, and porcelain dishes are preferred for special and formal occasions.