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'Stoneware' is a category of clay and a type of pottery distinguished primarily by its firing and maturation temperature (from about 1200°C to 1315°C). In essence, it is man-made stone.
In contrast, earthenware fired at lower temperatures and is not impervious to liquids. Porcelain, which some consider to be a type of stoneware was first produced in China, is distinguished being whiter than stoneware and always vitreous. Kaolin, or China Clay, which occurs in various parts of the world, has lower content of impurities than many other clays. It is also fired to a vitreous state, transforming the constituent silica to glass. Some porcelains bodies are translucent after firing. Firing a piece of pottery to too high a temperature will result in warping or melting. Vitreous clay bodies can be made at different temperatures ranges, but they are typically fired in the stoneware/porcelain range. Fired stoneware absorbs up to 5% water, porcelain 0%, and earthenware up to 10%. Earthenware, when moist, is typically not freeze resistant.
Clay refers to group of minerals that generally exhibit plasticity when mixed with water, and which chemically primarily consist of alumina and silica. Potters refer to combinations of clays mixed with other materials as clay bodies. Different kinds of clay bodies are created by mixing additives, such as feldspar, grog, quartz, flint, many other minerals are used and these can include spodumene, wollastonite to modify natural clays. Natural clays are thereby altered to fire at specific temperatures. Darker clays often contain iron and other metal oxide impurities. The clay used for porcelain and white stoneware clay bodies contain very little of these impurities.
Glaze may be applied to stoneware pottery before a second firing at a different temperature, or a glaze may be applied before a single, raw firing. Salt-glazed stoneware became the dominant houseware of nineteenth century America.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Stoneware".