Difference Between Earthenware and Stoneware

Several items made from pottery are available in the consumer market today. Each item offers its distinctive characteristics and features to the users. Earthenware and stoneware are two popular types of pottery-made bodies available to the general public. While they may seem similar, there are considerable differences between earthenware and stoneware. The durability, practical applications, and costs of earthenware and stoneware differ immensely. 

Earthenware vs Stoneware 

The main difference between earthenware and stoneware is that earthen is generally fired at temperatures below 2012 degree Fahrenheit. On the other hand, stoneware is generally fired at temperatures ranging from 2150 to 2330 degrees Fahrenheit. Earthenware needs to be glazed to become waterproof whereas stoneware is nonporous.

Earthenware and Stoneware 1

Earthenware is a form of pottery that is generally porous and coarser than its counterparts. Earthenware is usually glazed for practical and decorative reasons. Different options of earthenware are available to the general public. Terracotta is one of the most well-known types of earthenware. Earthenware continues to be one of the most popularly used storing and decorating mediums in the 21st century. 

Stoneware is a form of pottery fired at extremely high temperatures. The name stoneware originates from the stone-like appearance of the body and its dense stone-like quality. Stoneware is generally glazed to give it a matte or a more glossy touch. Stoneware came into existence only after earthenware and before porcelain. Items made from stoneware can be used in microwaves, freezers, and dishwashers. 

Comparison Table Between Earthenware and Stoneware

Parameters of ComparisonEarthenware Stoneware
Definition Earthenware is a well-known pottery made from coarsely grained clay.Stoneware is a popular type of pottery made from firing clay at high temperatures. 
Durability Earthenware is less durable than stoneware. Stoneware is more durable than earthenware. 
Temperature Earthenware is heated at a temperature of 2021 degree Fahrenheit. Stoneware is heated at a temperature ranging between 2150 and 2330 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Porosity Earthenware is generally porous. Stoneware is non-porous. 
Application Earthenware is used to make pots and dinnerware. Stoneware is used to make items in dishwashers and freezers. 

What is Earthenware?

Earthenware refers to non-vitreous pottery that may be glazed or unglazed. The normal firing temperature of earthenware is below 1200 degree celsius. Terracotta is a prominent example of basic earthenware that absorbs water. A coating of ceramic glaze is popularly used to make earthenware impervious to liquids. This coating is commonly used in almost every modern domestic earthenware.

There are several characteristics specific to earthenware. They display higher plasticity than most whitewares. Consequently, it is easier to shape earthenware bodies by using a roller head, RAM press, or potter’s wheel. It is important to glaze earthenware primarily because it has a water porosity of 5-8 %. The earthenware bodies usually display a lower mechanical strength. 

The constituents of earthenware are kaolin, ball clay, quartz, and feldspar. Some popular types of earthenware are terracotta, redware, victoria majolica, lusterware, raku, ironstone China, and yellowware. Out of all the types, dark colored terracotta earthenware are most widely used for tiles, flower pots, and decorative ware. 

While the rural population in many countries relies on earthen bodies for storing and cooking functions, it has also become popularly used in urban areas. Clay pots and tin-glazed earthenware are some other viable choices for household usage. While the formal is used to filter water, the latter is primarily used for decorative purposes. Thus, earthenware serves several distinct purposes. 

What is Stoneware?

Stoneware is a wide term used to cover pottery materials that are usually fired at very high temperatures. Technically, stoneware refers to either a vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic that usually uses non-refractory fire clay or stoneware clay. The most well-known quality of stoneware is that it is non-porous i.e. it does not soak up liquids. 

Stoneware may or may not be glazed. Around the world, stoneware came into existence only after earthenware and before porcelain. The name stoneware originates from the stone-like appearance and quality of stoneware. The durability of stoneware is rather impressive. The most common application of stoneware has been for high quality as well as utilitarian wares. The traditional Asian terminology does not recognise stoneware as a category. Additionally, most of the Asian stoneware is counted as porcelain. 

The prominent category of stoneware in industrial settings include traditional stoneware, fine stoneware, chemical stoneware, thermal shock resistant stoneware, and electrical stoneware. Although stoneware is generally dense, it is more opaque as compared to porcelain. In most cases, stoneware is glazed. Methods used for making stoneware include moulding, slipcasting, and wheel throwing. 

The colour of stoneware is usually grey or brownish because of the presence of impurities in the clay used for its manufacturing. This dirt look of stoneware stems from the presence of carbon or iron. The plasticity of stoneware is subject to variation. Stoneware bodies can be fired once or twice during the production process. Thus, stoneware serves as a well known form of pottery today. 

Main Differences Between Earthenware and Stoneware

  1. Earthenware is less durable than stoneware primarily because it is fired at lower temperatures than stoneware. 
  2. Earthenware is can be used occasionally whereas stoneware has the potential to survive a life that includes the indignity of a dishwasher.
  3. While earthenware is porous, stoneware is non-porous. 
  4. Earthenware is more prone to chipping. On the other hand, stoneware is strong and hard. 
  5. A common application of earthenware is in building bricks, tiles, and dinnerware. In contrast, stoneware is commonly used to make items in freezers and microwaves. 

Conclusion

Therefore, earthenware and stoneware vary on several grounds. Apart from differences in the durability, firing temperatures, porosity, and costs, earthenware and stoneware have varying commercial and practical applications. Earthenware displays higher plasticity than most whitewares. It is generally suggested to avoid the usage of unglazed earthenware due to its porosity and proneness to chipping. 

Well-known types of earthenware include terracotta, redware, victoria majolica, lusterware, raku, ironstone China, and yellowware. Each has its distinct characteristics and practical applications. In contrast, popular industrial stoneware types are traditional stoneware, fine stoneware, chemical stoneware, thermal shock resistant stoneware, and electrical stoneware. To conclude, earthenware and stoneware have distinct points of difference. 

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoneware 
  2. https://www.britannica.com/art/earthenware 
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