The world has seen its fair share of artistic products, modeled hundreds of years ago, and continue to grace our houses, museums, and offices, among others. They can be grouped into earthenware, porcelain and stoneware. Stoneware products sit between earthenware and porcelain and as such, they are majorly compared and contrasted. This article will delve more into stoneware and answer as many related questions as possible
Stoneware is made from clay, that has been fired at very high temperatures of about 1200°C (2,200°F), which is even hotter than lava from a volcano. The procedure takes about 12 hours to complete and the result is sturdy, safe and chip-resistant materials, known for their strength and durability.
Stoneware is, therefore, perfectly safe to be used at any temperature and as such, can be put in the oven. In fact, they are widely used for manufacturing various cookware and bakeware.
To confirm this, most bowls that are marked as ‘ovenproof’ and you can confirm this by simply looking for such marking. Some dinnerware or cooking bowls might not clearly state that they are oven-safe and as such, you can look for an image on the bottom of the bowl, which will confirm the same.
Is Stoneware Oven Safe?
So, if stoneware can be put in the oven, is it safe? The simplest answer to this is YES. Not only is stoneware oven safe, but it is also microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe. However, consult with the manufacturer before use as some features can be affected by some paints or glazes.
This also means you should avoid extreme temperature changes when using stoneware. For instance, do not remove stoneware from the refrigerator or freezer and place it directly into the oven. Doing so could cause it to lose some of its structural integrity or even crack.
Is Stoneware Suitable For Microwave Use?
As already mentioned, stoneware is microwave, dishwasher, freezer and oven safe. Also, and as already mentioned, you need to check your products for the ‘ovenproof’ marker to confirm that they are safe for such use. Such a caveat exists as most stoneware has a singular problem, the material that makes them typically contains trace amounts of metals and other material that absorbs microwave energy.
A stoneware product will not necessarily harm the microwave, but the product itself will get considerably hot. It means rather than having your food warmed, it will be the dish itself that will heat. If the stoneware has a label on its bottom, it means it has been designed and tested with microwaves in mind.
So, is stoneware suitable for microwave use? YES, only if it has been designed and tested with microwave in mind. However, it is generally not the best choice for microwave use. Rather stick to glass and microwave-safe ceramics.
Is Stoneware Dishwasher Safe?
YES. Stoneware is dishwasher safe. The process of making stoneware results is sturdy, safe and chip-resistant materials, known for their strength and durability. Stoneware is, therefore, perfectly safe to be used in dishwashers.
However, handwashing stoneware with warm soapy water and a nylon scrub brush is recommended. In doing so, it helps preserve its original appearance. Some citrus juice and citrus-based cleaners, as well as some dishwasher detergents, should be avoided as they can dull the exterior gloss.
If necessary, use nylon pads or scrapers to remove any food residue on the stoneware, as metal pads or utensils might scratch them. Some also fear that due to the porous nature of stoneware, soap and crud could get into the pores and make the food taste gross.
Differences Between Stoneware and Porcelain
1. Temperatures at Which They are Made
Stoneware requires firing temperatures higher than earthenware but not as high enough in comparison to porcelain. Stoneware requires temperatures of between 2,000° F and 2,400° F, while porcelain requires a firing temperature of around 2,600° F.
Stoneware is known to have appeared after earthenware, which is thousands of years ago. Porcelain, on the other hand, was the last type of pottery and gained popularity in the 1700s.
3. Material That Makes The Products
Porcelain almost always uses white clay and as such, porcelain is almost always white. On the other hand, potters can make stoneware with multiple and different clay colors. Also, stoneware has vitreous or glass material added, for its strength.
Porcelain, on the other hand, is made of a fine-particle clay, typically comprised of feldspar, quartz and kaolin, making the end product extremely durable, and nonporous.
Stoneware is strong, hard and non-porous, making it durable, elegant and versatile, capable of being used for various uses, from customized trophies to baking dishes. With regards to porcelain, the white clay that makes it often contains the white mineral known as kaolin.
This kaolin is harder for potters to work with and is less forgiving than other types of clay and is more fragile in this day and age. However, porcelain requires high firing temperatures as compared to stoneware, meaning the porcelain has incredible durability
When choosing the type of dinnerware, you will tend to look at the cost. Bone china is the most expensive, followed by porcelain and then stoneware. The fact that stoneware is cheaper, could explain why stoneware pottery is more common and more often used in comparison to porcelain.
6. How They Look and Feel
Porcelain, due to it is made, has a translucent appearance and is thinner. Stoneware is thicker, and because it can often have color patterns, it is therefore opaque. Contemporary porcelain does not only come in white and can have a colorful finish, adding a fun touch to your dining experience as well as your tableware collection.
Differences Between Stoneware and Ceramic
1. One is Made From the Other
Porcelain, earthenware and stoneware are all made from ceramic. The basic explanation is stoneware, porcelain and bone china are categories of products made from clay, also known as earthenware or ceramic. Stoneware is, therefore, a fired ceramic.
2. One is a Member of the Other
The term ‘ceramics’ generally refers to a whole family of products and substances made from clay among others. As such, it is not easy to answer a question like ‘what is the difference between stoneware and ceramic’ since stoneware is a member of the ceramics’ broader family.
Ceramic is an umbrella term for the hard and durable substances that all traditional pottery and dinnerware are made of, regardless of the specific process or combination of ingredients used. All ceramic materials are made from clay, comprised mostly of aluminum oxide, silicon dioxide and water.
3. Not all Ceramics are Stoneware
Stoneware is non-porous, hard and opaque ceramics made at relatively high temperatures. However, that is all for stoneware. The translucent pottery made from the same process but at even higher temperatures, makeup porcelain, while that made at lower temperatures as compared to stoneware, make earthenware. All make up the larger ceramics family
How do Earthenware and Stoneware Differ?
1. Temperatures at Which They are Made
As already mentioned, stoneware requires firing temperatures of around 2,200° F. This is a higher temperature than that used to make earthenware but not as high enough in comparison to porcelain. Earthenware is made at temperatures of between 1,000° F and 1150° F.
Earthenware emerged thousands of years ago and was heavily used during the height of the Roman Empire. Stoneware came later and is relatively younger than earthenware
Earthenware is made at relatively lower temperatures as compared to stoneware. As a result of the high temperatures, the glazes on the outside of the stoneware turn to glass in a process called vitrification. This, therefore, means stoneware is stronger and more porous than earthenware
4. Carrying Liquids
Both earthenware and stoneware can hold liquids. However, liquids could penetrate earthenware, when used back during the Roman Empire periods, meaning even good oil could go rancid with prolonged or repeated use.
Earthenware is slightly porous, meaning it contains small holes that can pass through liquid or air and is therefore not suitable for containing water. Vitrification makes stoneware waterproof, ensuring liquids do not penetrate the vessel, making stoneware perfect for drinking or storing coffee and tea.
5. Looks and Feel
Stoneware is smooth and thicker in appearance and can be made into finishes ranging from shiny to matte. Earthenware is porous and coarse and has to be glazed and fired again before use. it also has to be painted before use, while stoneware can be decorated with a colored or clear glaze or can be left unglazed.
Earthenware is less versatile and more fragile than other types of pottery, including stoneware. Stoneware is stronger, thicker, more opaque, waterproof and more durable than earthenware
it is obvious, earthenware is made through a slightly less complicated process in comparison to stoneware, meaning stoneware is more expensive than earthenware.
Stoneware dishes specifically are heavy to lift and move around. This weight can damage other dishes, especially if stoneware is placed on top of the other dishes. Earthenware is lighter and has no problem being placed on top of other dishes. As such, stoneware should be placed at the bottom shelf with any other ceramic, including earthenware, placed on top
8. How They Are Made
Earthenware is a ceramic that has been glazed and fired. Stoneware is clay that is fired at a higher temperature and usually has vitreous or glass material added, for its strength.
Which is Best, Earthenware or Stoneware?
This actually depends on the purpose for which they are used. Depending upon the purpose, one could be better than the other. Read on to find out which is better -Earthenware or Stoneware.
Earthenware generally shrinks less than porcelain and stoneware. This means earthenware is perfect for sculpture in comparison to stoneware.
Both earthenware and stoneware are good for dinnerware. However, earthenware is more economical and is the choice for many. However, it tends to chip and break easily in comparison to stoneware. Stoneware is also expensive and its material is more complicated. As such, the choice is personal, depending on one’s taste and affordability
3. Planting Flowers, Decorative Items and Art Projects
The obvious choice is earthenware, because of its availability, porosity and affordability. Go for earthenware also because the material itself can easily accommodate such projects, as compared to the more expensive and glossy-looking stoneware.
3. Baking, Slow Cooking and Serving Food
Due to its ability to withstand a lot of heat for a longer period, stoneware is perfect for such roles. Stoneware is heat-retentive, uniform for baking and gives cleaner flavors than metallic cookware. Spaghetti sauce and curries could actually stain an earthenware pot
It is vital to educate yourself before purchasing the ceramics you will be using at home. Each, be it earthenware, stoneware or porcelain, is made differently, meaning their application varies. Knowing the difference between these ceramics will aid you in identifying how, where and when to use them. Stoneware, sort of being in the middle of the three, seems to have more applications and is worth checking out.