According to external characteristics, they can be very similar to each other, but in fact, there is a certain difference between them. Everyone is familiar with the phenomenon that many authors on websites use these terms interchangeably, claiming that they mean the same thing, sometimes calling all ceramics in one word – porcelain. This is wrong because by doing so they mislead many readers.
Let’s figure out what the mistakes are and fix them.
Porcelain is only a type of ceramic, while not all ceramics are porcelain.
Ceramics, pottery, faience, majolica, terracotta, porcelain stoneware, fireclay, hard porcelain, soft porcelain, bone china, paper clay are different types of ceramic material and products, depending on the use of different types of clay and additional ingredients. Each of these materials has its own unique characteristics and properties.
Pottery is a general term that describes any natural clay product mixed in various formulas with water and in some cases organic materials. From such a composition, they create a shape, decorate, usually glaze and harden the material under the influence of heat during firing in a kiln.
The composition of the clays used, the type of additives, the temperature and duration of firing determine the quality and hardness of the final product. Since these variables can be controlled by various parameters, there are many different types of ceramics.
Therefore, once again, ceramics is a broad category that includes as subcategories faience, earthenware, terracotta, stoneware, hard china, soft china, bone china, paper clay, and more.
Faience is the earliest type of pottery. Products are made from red or white clay baked in a kiln at a low temperature, usually 1000-1080 ° C. Since this type of clay does not reach the vitreous state during firing, faience is more porous and must be covered with an additional thick enough layer of sometimes opaque glaze. to be waterproof. Earthenware is more fragile than other types of clay. Faience does not have the whiteness and transparency of porcelain; earthenware products have rather thick, opaque walls of streamlined shapes. Clear lines in the form of faience cannot be achieved, therefore this material is not applicable to sculptural plasticity.
Porcelain is a white clay used to make functional and non-functional items. Essentially, the chemistry of porcelain is a combination of clay, kaolin (the only clay known for being transparent), feldspar, silica, and quartz, but other materials can be added.
The higher the content of kaolin clay, the higher the technical characteristics of the product obtained from it.
Porcelain is traditionally fired at very high fire temperatures above 1260 °C (2300 °F). As in the case of porcelain stoneware. The body turns into glass, so the surface is low-porous and does not absorb liquid. The surface is generally very smooth, even if unglazed. The fineness and plastic properties of the clay used allow intricate fine detail to be created.
The most significant defining characteristic for porcelain is its transparency. Porcelain after firing becomes very white and translucent, which allows light to pass through and reflect it. All other ceramics are opaque and do not transmit light.
Sound is another determining factor. If you lightly hit a piece of porcelain, it will sound like a ringing bell.
Porcelain is a very durable and hard material.