Ceramic vs. Porcelain

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Ceramic and Porcelain is that the Ceramic is a inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and Porcelain is a ceramic material

  • Ceramic

    A ceramic (Ancient Greek: κεραμικός — keramikós, “potter’s”, from Ancient Greek: κέραμος — kéramos, “potter’s clay”) is a solid material comprising an inorganic compound of metal, non-metal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. Common examples are earthenware, porcelain, and brick.

    The crystallinity of ceramic materials ranges from highly oriented to semi-crystalline, vitrified, and often completely amorphous (e.g., glasses). Most often, fired ceramics are either vitrified or semi-vitrified as is the case with earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Varying crystallinity and electron composition in the ionic and covalent bonds cause most ceramic materials to be good thermal and electrical insulators (extensively researched in ceramic engineering). With such a large range of possible options for the composition/structure of a ceramic (e.g. nearly all of the elements, nearly all types of bonding, and all levels of crystallinity), the breadth of the subject is vast, and identifiable attributes (e.g. hardness, toughness, electrical conductivity, etc.) are difficult to specify for the group as a whole. General properties such as high melting temperature, high hardness, poor conductivity, high moduli of elasticity, chemical resistance and low ductility are the norm, with known exceptions to each of these rules (e.g. piezoelectric ceramics, glass transition temperature, superconductive ceramics, etc.). Many composites, such as fiberglass and carbon fiber, while containing ceramic materials, are not considered to be part of the ceramic family.The earliest ceramics made by humans were pottery objects (i.e. pots or vessels) or figurines made from clay, either by itself or mixed with other materials like silica, hardened and sintered in fire. Later ceramics were glazed and fired to create smooth, colored surfaces, decreasing porosity through the use of glassy, amorphous ceramic coatings on top of the crystalline ceramic substrates. Ceramics now include domestic, industrial and building products, as well as a wide range of ceramic art. In the 20th century, new ceramic materials were developed for use in advanced ceramic engineering, such as in semiconductors.

    The word “ceramic” comes from the Greek word κεραμικός (keramikos), “of pottery” or “for pottery”, from κέραμος (keramos), “potter’s clay, tile, pottery”. The earliest known mention of the root “ceram-” is the Mycenaean Greek ke-ra-me-we, “workers of ceramics”, written in Linear B syllabic script. The word “ceramic” may be used as an adjective to describe a material, product or process, or it may be used as a noun, either singular, or, more commonly, as the plural noun “ceramics”.

  • Porcelain

    Porcelain () is a ceramic material made by heating materials, generally including kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C (2,200 and 2,600 °F). The toughness, strength, and translucence of porcelain, relative to other types of pottery, arises mainly from vitrification and the formation of the mineral mullite within the body at these high temperatures. Though definitions vary, porcelain can be divided into three main categories: hard-paste, soft-paste and bone china. The category that an object belongs to depends on the composition of the paste used to make the body of the porcelain object and the firing conditions.

    Porcelain slowly evolved in China and was finally achieved (depending on the definition used) at some point about 2,000 to 1,200 years ago, then slowly spread to other East Asian countries, and finally Europe and the rest of the world. Its manufacturing process is more demanding than that for earthenware and stoneware, the two other main types of pottery, and it has usually been regarded as the most prestigious type of pottery for its delicacy, strength, and its white colour. It combines well with both glazes and paint, and can be modelled very well, allowing a huge range of decorative treatments in tablewares, vessels and figurines. It also has many uses in technology and industry.

    The European name, porcelain in English, comes from the old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the surface of the shell. Porcelain is also referred to as china or fine china in some English-speaking countries, as it was first seen in imports from China. Properties associated with porcelain include low permeability and elasticity; considerable strength, hardness, toughness, whiteness, translucency and resonance; and a high resistance to chemical attack and thermal shock.

    Porcelain has been described as being “completely vitrified, hard, impermeable (even before glazing), white or artificially coloured, translucent (except when of considerable thickness), and resonant”. However, the term “porcelain” lacks a universal definition and has “been applied in an unsystematic fashion to substances of diverse kinds which have only certain surface-qualities in common”.Traditionally, East Asia only classifies pottery into low-fired wares (earthenware) and high-fired wares (often translated as porcelain), the latter also including what Europeans call stoneware, which is high-fired but not generally white or translucent. Terms such as “proto-porcelain”, “porcellaneous” or “near-porcelain” may be used in cases where the ceramic body approaches whiteness and translucency.

  • Ceramic (adjective)

    Made of material produced by the high-temperature firing of inorganic, nonmetallic rocks and minerals.

    “A ceramic vase stood on the table.”

  • Ceramic (noun)

    A hard, brittle, inorganic, nonmetallic material.

    “Joan made the dish from ceramic.”

  • Ceramic (noun)

    An object made of this material

    “Joe had dozens of ceramics in his apartment.”

  • Porcelain (noun)

    A hard white translucent ceramic, originally made by firing kaolin, quartz, and feldspar at high temperatures but now also inclusive of similar artificial materials; also often such a material as a symbol of the fragility, elegance, etc. traditionally associated with porcelain goods.

    “Tableware and toilets are both made of porcelain.”

  • Porcelain (noun)

    : porcelain tableware.

    “He set the table with our porcelain and stemware.”

  • Porcelain (noun)

    : the kind of clay traditionally used in China to manufacture porcelain.

  • Porcelain (noun)

    An object made of porcelain, art objects or items of tableware.

    “The museum has an extensive collection of rare Chinese porcelains.”

  • Porcelain (noun)


  • Porcelain (noun)

    : strings of shells, beads, etc. used as ornamentation or currency; the composite shells, beads, etc.

  • Porcelain (noun)

    A kind of pigeon with deep brown and off-white feathers.

  • Ceramic (adjective)

    made of clay and permanently hardened by heat

    “a ceramic bowl”

  • Ceramic (adjective)

    relating to ceramic articles

    “a ceramic designer”

  • Ceramic (noun)

    pots and other articles made from clay hardened by heat

    “many of the painted ceramics are of native manufacture”

  • Ceramic (noun)

    the art of making ceramic articles.

  • Ceramic (noun)

    the material from which ceramics are made

    “tableware in ceramic”

  • Ceramic (noun)

    any non-metallic solid which remains hard when heated.

Oxford Dictionary

Leave a Comment