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What is Stoneware?

Anna T.
Updated May 16, 2024
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Stoneware is a type of clay that has been fired at extremely high heat to produce durable, chip-resistant material that is capable of withstanding day-to-day use. Numerous types of dishes, mugs, platters, bowls, and plates are made of it, mostly due to its strength. It is occasionally decorated with a colored or clear glaze and then refired, although some pieces are left undecorated. People frequently confuse it with earthenware, which is a similar type of pottery. Earthenware is fired at a lower temperature, thereby making it not as durable or well-suited for daily use.

The approximate temperature used for firing stoneware is 2,185° Fahrenheit (1,196° Celsius). It is typically strong enough to use in the oven and may look and feel like pottery. A person who is unsure whether or not he has stoneware or earthenware may be able to determine which one he has by looking at the bottom of the piece. Earthenware is generally decorated on the bottom, whereas its rival is usually left undecorated. When weighing the two pieces against each other, earthenware will normally feel lighter.

There are many other possible advantages to using stoneware, as opposed to earthenware, in the kitchen. Since earthenware porous, it generally does not hold water well and is not usually considered waterproof. Stoneware is typically made to be waterproof and may be useful in the garden as well. Although earthenware was frequently used in the kitchen in the early 1700s, the pieces became mostly decorative after the introduction of stoneware in the late 1700s.

Creating stoneware usually begins with giving the clay a distinct shape, either with the use of a pottery wheel or by hand. After the desired shape has been formed, the piece is normally left to dry out completely. Once dry, a clear or colored glaze may be applied. Since some people prefer stoneware undecorated, that step is occasionally skipped. The final step is firing the clay in a kiln.

Pottery is generally considered one of the oldest art forms. In the latter half of the 18th century, it allegedly became big business when places like the United States and Europe competed fiercely with each other in the importing and production of pottery. Spain, America, Holland, and England were some of the major producers of pottery, and the average household usually had pieces produced in many different locations due to the amount of global trading.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Anna T.
By Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to DelightedCooking. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.

Discussion Comments

By Vincenzo — On Dec 26, 2014

@Soulfox -- In the alternative, just buy new dishes. Stoneware is dirt cheap and very durable and those are two of the reasons it has been popular for so long.

And because it is so cheap, you might test that stoneware if it is not labeled. If you destroy it, the chances are good you haven't lost much.

By Soulfox — On Dec 26, 2014

Quite often, a stoneware dish will be identified as such on the bottom of the dish. That technique might not work if you have an older piece of stoneware as such identifying marks ay have worn off or washed off in a dishwasher. Still, it is common for dished to be labeled, so the bottom of the dish is the first place to start.

Anna T.

Anna T.

Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to DelightedCooking. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
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