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What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain?


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March 01, 2008 12:15PM


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.