Stoneware vs Ceramic: What’s the Difference?

Stoneware and ceramic are commonly thought to be two distinct materials. Fun fact: they are not! Stoneware is the most rigid and durable type of ceramic. In the following article, we will thoroughly cover the following topics regarding stoneware versus ceramic.

  • A detailed comparison between the two materials
  • Incorporation of porcelain into our comparison
  • Methods of determining whether a certain material is stoneware or not
  • Study on the best ceramic for everyday dinnerware
  • Conclusive table to differentiate between all three types of ceramics

Comparison Between Stoneware and Ceramic

The main difference between stoneware and other ceramics is that stoneware is much stronger due to the way it is manufactured: it is fired under very high temperatures. Let us leave the comparison for later and start by defining what ceramics are and how they are made.

Ceramic is a material mainly comprised of hardened clay. Ceramics are mainly used in the production of tables and chairs, kitchen utensils, artistic designs (vases, sculptures, etc.), planting pots, and floor tiles.

They can even be used in jewelry production. Further and furthermore, ceramics are now being used to make products ranging from dental braces, to race car brakes, to fiber optics, and even to artificial body joints. We can clearly see that the ceramics domain is huge and extremely diverse.

One specific type of ceramics is stoneware. Stoneware differs from other ceramics in that it has no pores (making it less prone to chipping or breaking), it is thicker than other ceramics (also contributing to its durability and rigidity), and it is a better heat conductor with more even temperature distribution (making it useful in ovens, pots, microwaves, and freezers).

Following is a table that illustrates the difference between stoneware and ceramic.

Stoneware Ceramic
Relation A type of ceramic Can be fired to form stoneware
Firing Temperature High firing temperatures Varied firing temperatures
Durability Most durable type of ceramic Some ceramics break easily
Thickness Thick and non-porous Can be thin with numerous pores
Appearance Rusty and stone-like Can be glossy, shiny, or translucent

Stoneware vs Ceramic

Incorporating Porcelain in Our Comparison

Another strong, rigid type of ceramic is porcelain. Porcelain shares many similarities with stoneware, but they can be easily told apart. While porcelain has a more classy, modern look with its pearly marble-like appeal, stoneware is rougher and more clay-like.

Both are sturdy, durable materials used in long-lasting products such as floor tiles, dining room tables, teapots and teacups, plates, and many more! Like stoneware, clay is exposed to very high temperatures to be transformed into porcelain.

Of course, methods differ, since each of these firing methods yields a distinct end-product. Since they are not easy to manufacture, both porcelain and stoneware are relatively expensive, with porcelain in the lead.

Methods to Determine Whether a Certain Material is Stoneware or Not

Walking down a bustling street like Istanbul’s Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) or Mumbai streets, it is easy for street vendors and salesmen to trick you into buying illegitimate stoneware.

  1. There are several obvious indicators of the legitimacy of material being stoneware. First, if the material allows light through when placed in white light or sun, it is not stoneware. Stoneware is opaque – it does not allow light rays to flow through.
  2. Second, if the object you are carrying feels considerably heavy for its size (dense), that is a good indicator that this ceramic is stoneware.
  3. Third, check for an unpainted or unglazed face of the product (the base might be uncoated). If this face showing the material is a dark orange-brown or greyish color it is probably stoneware.
  4. Furthermore, if your ceramic can be scraped or scratched with visible marks showing, it is more likely to be earthenware than stoneware.
  5. Stoneware is much thicker and harder and therefore cannot be easily scratched or crumbled.
  6. Finally, if your object shows some textured clay, it is most probably stoneware. The smoother, more liquid-absorbent a product, the less likely it is to be stoneware. Of course, you cannot go around stores spraying liquids at their products, so try to use this method as a last resort! 😉

A Study on the Best Ceramic for Everyday Dinnerware

As little kids, we consider everything that breaks to be made of “glass”. Adulthood is realizing that the mugs and plates we use for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are not made of glass (a sand-based material). They are actually made of ceramic!

Earthenware is the cheapest, least durable, and least slick and good-looking type of ceramic. It also has a relatively high tendency to absorb liquids, making it difficult to wash and thus a poor choice for everyday use.

Since stoneware is the least porous, least water-absorbent, and most durable, it is definitely a great choice. However, while stoneware also spreads heat most evenly – an important trait of plates – it is not always the best choice for dinnerware.

Porcelain is thinner, making it easier to carry, yet still rigid and tough to break. Porcelain is also better-looking than stoneware. However, it is usually the most expensive.

Therefore, the choice falls between stoneware and porcelain; it is up to your preferences and budget to determine which would be most suitable for your kitchen.

To Wrap it All Up

Each type of ceramic has its strengths and weaknesses, and the purpose for which the ceramics are used is usually the main factor for selecting a specific type.

Following is a useful table that highlights the differences between the three types of ceramic (stoneware, earthenware, and porcelain) as compared by texture, physical attributes, production, strength, uses, price, and durability.

Stoneware Earthenware Porcelain
Texture Rough, less porous Smooth, more porous Smooth, less porous
Physical Attributes Rustic, earthy, opaque, relatively thick Rustic, shiny, relatively thick Shiny and translucent, relatively thin
Production High Temperature (>2100° F) Low Temperature (<1400° F) Medium Temperature (>2200° F)
Strength Dense, Rigid, less prone to breaking or chipping Fragile, more prone to breaking or chipping Dense, Rigid, less prone to breaking or chipping
Uses Non-stick baking, storing liquids (not liquid absorbent), garden pots Cooking, freezing, tableware, pottery Bathroom floors, insulation, electrical cables
Price Medium expense Least expensive Most expensive
Durability Most durable Least durable Medium durability

 

Saurabh

I like to share my knowledge and that's why I made this blog. You can learn something new every day.

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