What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain?

CERAMICS The word ceramic is derived from the Greek word κεραμικός (keramos). The term covers inorganic non-metallic materials which are formed by the action of heat. Up until the 1950s or so, the most important of these were the traditional clays, made into pottery, bricks, tiles and the like, along with cements and glass. Clay-based ceramics are described in the article on pottery. A composite material of ceramic and metal is known as cermet. The word ceramic can be an adjective, and can also be used as a noun to refer to a ceramic material, or a product of ceramic manufacture. Ceramics may also be used as a singular noun referring to the art of making things out of ceramic materials. The technology of manufacturing and usage of ceramic materials is part of the field of ceramic engineering. China The Chinese perfected porcelain by using kaolin, a white clay, mixing it with china stone and firing it at high temperatures. That was in the 10th century and it took another 800 years before true porcelain was developed in Europe. China, in this context, originally refered to a ceramic dinnerware coming out of the country of China which was particularly fine and exceptionally white. It was a standard of quality unknown elsewhere at the time. To answer the question then, China is a ceramic product but of a very fine quality and it should more accurately be called porcelain.

Porcelain tiles: They are fired at a very high temperature enabling a high solids content. Some porcelains are fullbodied meaning the color of the tile tile is solid throughout. Other porcelains are: a porcelain bisque with an altered surface appearance or a porcelain body that has been glazed. For a tile to be considered impervious (porcelain) by ANSI standards it must have an absorption rate of less than 0.5%. The low absorption rate makes porcelain up to 6 times more frost resistant than a vitreous tile. Therefore outdoor applications are possible. Porcelain also has superior chip resistance making it stronger and more durable in most cases than granite. Applications in high traffic areas or kitchen countertops are no problem at all. Many porcelains offer the appearance of natural stone without the maintenance. Needless to say, this is why porcelain has become very popular in recent years.

Score and break cutting boards are normally sufficient. However. there are many good quality ceramics with PEI ratings of 3 or 4 that can provide excellent durability. The main advantage of ceramic tile is that it is easy to cut and handle. you may want to choose ceramic because many designs and colors that are not available in porcelain tiles are available in ceramic tiles. . For example: If you were installing tile in an upstairs bathroom. This makes ceramic the choice for bathroom walls or kitchen backsplashes.Ceramic tiles: Ceramic tiles are characterized by a dark red or terra cotta back with a fine glaze over them. From a design perspective though. They will have a higher absorption rate so be careful not to use them outdoors. you would not need to walk up and down steps to make every cut on a wetsaw. They are fired at a lower temperature which means they can be more brittle and contain only a surface glaze.

It can refer to a mixture of minerals with clay-size particles. Scanning electron microscope image of a mass of kaolinite (a clay mineral). i. In this lecture. It can refer to: 1. Note that unlike a glass. Under weak stress. 1 The Structure of two common clay minerals Properties of Clay: Ability to Be Shaped Alumina Silica hydrogen ions Alumina Silica potassium ions Silica Alumina Silica potassium ions Silica Alumina Clay mineral crystals have a platy habit and also have perfect basal cleavage. flat surfaces of the mineral grains. . clay is typically highly cohesive (i. This mobility accounts for the ease with which clay can be molded and formed. The result is a composite aluminosilicate sheet.What is a Ceramic ? In the visual arts. and magnesium. A member of a large group of fine-grained platy minerals related to micas. platy shape of clay mineral grains is clearly evident . It can refer to a mass of minerals (primarily clay minerals) that behave plastically when wet. Small amounts of water cling to the clay particles and each other. Clay mineral form and habit At high magnification (showing individual clay grains). silica sheets and alumina sheets are covalently bonded (oxygen atoms share electrons). it sticks together very well) This relates to the high surface area of the broad. nonmetallic material made from clay and other Earth materials and hardened by firing (vitrification) at high temperatures. Clay: From weathering product to art medium What is Clay ? The term “clay” is used in a number of ways. Clay grain water Clay grain Scanning electron microscope image of a mass of kaolinite (clay mineral) crystals.e. Or 3. Rapid cooling (quenching) would result in the formation of glass.e. If you have ever tried this you will note that it is relatively difficult to pull the plates apart or to push them in opposite directions. These composite sheets are ionically bonded together by positive hydrogen or metallic ions. the thin. Alumina Silica Kaolinite Illite In both cases. put some water in between them and then push them together (one on top of another). iron. <1/256 mm)--These are generally dominated by clay minerals. Structure of Clay Minerals Clay minerals are hydrous (water) aluminum phyllosilicates (sheet silicates) Clay minerals are made of three basic building blocks: Sheets of linked silica tetrahedra Sheets of linked alumina octohedra Plus assorted positive ions that bond these sheets together. we will consider clay as a mass of minerals dominated by clay minerals. 2. it contains minute silicate crystals suspended in a glassy cement. Clay grains are both thin and broad (like hexagonal plates) and are commonly found stacked on top of one another. brittle. clays are used primarily in the fashioning of ceramic items A ceramic can be loosely defined as a hard. This is similar to what happens when you take two pieces of glass. allowing the mass of clay to deform readily (especially when lubricated by water). producing a high degree of intergranular cohesion. the plates slide past one another. mostly hydrogen (protons). potassium. but would also cause the ceramic to crack or perhaps even explode. a ceramic has a crystalline structure This is due to the relatively long cooling period allowed for most ceramics. Properties of Clay: Cohesion When slightly wet.

e. its presence reduces the overall shrinkage of the clay during the drying (dehydration) process. 1200-1300 deg. Experience has taught us that the best results are obtained when several different clays are blended together. potters can vary the texture and colour of their clays. we can loosely categorize clays into two main types: Primary clays (also called china clays or kaolin) . site of weathering) found far away from their original site of weathering . less grog = more shrinkage. 900-1100 deg. Grog particles are larger and more rigid than clay particles and lack water content which allows them (in sufficiently high concentrations) to effectively stiffen the soft clay matrix. but on a practical level. Less shrinkage means that less clay is required to produce a finished piece of a given volume. dinnerware) -Smooth texture (no grog) -Homogeneous composition and lack of grog requires vitrification (High T. and flower pots -Cheapest to make (secondary clays more common than primary clays) -Not fired to vitrification temperatures (relatively low T. iron oxides. Therefore. -Textured often with fine speckles Stoneware mug Earthenware Stoneware Porcelain Earthenware -Typically made from secondary clays -Well suited for the manufacture of thick-walled vessels such as mugs. clay minerals are produced by the weathering and chemical alteration of other minerals. 1200-1500 deg.found close to their original site of formation (i.g. plates. Grog reduces the shrinkage effects associated with firing due to its inability to contain or retain water. particularly feldspars.e. site of weathering or alteration) due to little or no post-formation transport. C) -Porcelain was produced as early as 10th century in Asia (hence the term “China” for highquality porcelain) -Bone is sometimes added to the clay for more translucent appearance (hence “bone china”) . .consist mostly of the clay mineral kaolinite Secondary clays (also called sedimentary clays) . By blending. Such a blended clay is called a clay body.transported from original site of formation (i.Where clays are made As we learned previously. C) -Colour can range from white to terra cotta (if iron oxide present) -Texture ranges from fine to rough. Ceramic disc with coarse-grained grog 5 Stoneware Types of Clay Bodies -Made mostly from primary clays bodies -Suited for the manufacture of vessels that are stronger (thinner walled) than earthenware Clay bodies can be loosely categorized into three basic types: -Also used to make non-porous products such as floor tiles and drainage pipes -Typically not fired to vitrification tempertures (intermediate T. depending on grog content Porcelain -Made from primary clays -Suited for manufacture of very thin objects that are very strong (e. A material called grog (crushed quartz or pre-baked clay) is also added to some clay bodies. Feldspar weathering to clay (dark flecks within crystal) Why Add Grog ? There are many different kinds of clay minerals. and organic matter (more heterogeneous). C) -Often coarse in texture (contains grog) -Colour: usually brown due to presence of iron oxide. Which clays are used for ceramics ? Rarely do potters use a clay from a single source as a working clay.can contain kaolinite. Most ceramic clays are blends of materials from different sources. Grog is commonly either sand or fired clay which has been crushed and sized (typically much coarser than the main potting material). more grog = less overall shrinkage. but also generally also contain other clay minerals as well as quartz.

At this point. When clay dries. The strength of fired clay is increased by the formation of a meshwork of needle-like mullite crystals. Vitrification Glazing After the ceramic has completed its firing process. the major transformations of the clay take place. Water molecules between the clay particles are then evaporated away. The Big Transformation After all the free water is driven off (above 500 deg. Iron oxides in such clays can contribute to lowering the average melting point of the clay body. giving it cohesion and strength. This is because the clay body (almost pure kaolinite) has a very high melting point. Wet clay contains a large amount of water (25 % minimum). the mineral components of the ceramic fuse together. As this happens. C). now made of fused mineral components. clay particles are drawn closer together. it is glazed. the clay is irreversibly changed as hydrogen and oxygen of the clay minerals are driven off as water. A glass results from cooling of this molten stuff . Mullite is an aluminum silicate mineral characterized by elongate crystals. Fused mullite crystals The ceramic pieces are glazed to both beautify the item and to give the item a waterproof finish. Thus. these ingredients melt (over 2000 OC).Kiln Drying Complete drying doesn't take place until the piece is placed in the kiln. The remaining solid material of the clay produces the minerals mullite and quartz. This happens when the boiling point of water has been reached. stresses are produced in the clay. binding them together. From Clay Body To Ceramic Air Drying A ceramic piece is air-dried to a “greenware” state before it is fired. Some shrinkage can occur at this point. heating conditions must be carefully controlled.g. Glaze is basically a form of glass. 3 Al2Si2O5(OH)4 Kaolinite (s) Al6Si2O3 mullite(s) + 4 SiO2 + quartz (s) 6 H2O water(g) Mullite is a mineral which occurs only rarely in nature 9 Th effect of changing crystal structure Differences in Firing Temperatures Clays vitrify at various temperatures depending upon the clay minerals present. water evaporates from it. This is why it is important to ensure that the piece is of fairly uniform thickness and that the clay is thoroughly mixed (if more than one type is being used). Secondary clays (as used in earthenware) vitrify at lower temperatures (700. These lace the structure together. When cooled. is hard and durable. the ceramic.1200 OC).g. silica. Porosity also differs between items made of primary and secondary clays – primary clays produce items with lower porosity than those made of secondary clays. resulting in shrinkage. or the formation of steam within the body of the clay may cause it to burst. When fired. Evaporation of the water content of the clay must be allowed to occur slowly. forming cracks or warped areas. consisting basically of • Glass-forming minerals (e. iron oxides) present in the clay body. as well as the amount of impurities (e. If drying (and therefore shrinkage) is uneven. Glass fills in spaces between the interlocking mullite crystals. Finally. feldspar) • Stiffeners (such as clay) • Fluxes which lower the melting point of the other glaze components (calcite and dolomite are common fluxes). Primary clays (as used in porcelain) vitrify at very high temperatures (1250 – 1400 OC).

orange and red Manganese dioxide: deep purple Additives are also used to increase the opacity of glazes.Glaze Colour and Opacity Just as impurities can alter the colour of natural minerals. small amounts of certain substances can be added to glaze to produce different colours. Common glaze additives and resulting colours are: END OF LECTURE Copper oxide: greens and blues Cobalt oxide: blues and violet Iron oxide: yellow. 13 . it can now be sold to feed the artist’s starving family. Common ones are titanium oxide and tin oxide. Finished Product Now that the ceramic piece has been completed.