Believe it or not, the fine, bone china dinnerware put you remain locked away in the china closet to pull out only on special occasions is typically more resilient than the regular stoneware or earthenware you use daily on your own table. It all begins with the firing process within the kiln along with the temperatures used to create porcelain and fine bone porcelain china.
Dinnerware — or china — has its name from the country in which it was first made over 1,000 years ago. It was not until about the 1800s the Europeans managed to duplicate the efforts of Chinese potteries — when they found a supply for the distinctive clay and combined it with bone ash — to make their very own fine bone china. The main ingredient in porcelain is kaolin clay, native to China along with also the Limoges area in France. Porcelain and bone china are double-fired in the kiln at temperatures usually over 2,372 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes the dinnerware glass-like, strong and durable. Fine bone china is stronger than porcelain.
Microwave, Dishwasher Safe
The high temperatures where porcelain dinnerware is fired makes it dishwasher- and also microwave-safe — when the ideal clays are used to make it. Earthenware might not be, unless it’s identified as such. Earthenware is fired at lower temperatures in the kiln, is much more porous and softer, and made from clays commonly found in nature. Stoneware is stronger than earthenware, because it’s fired at higher temperatures, but it does not have the strength of porcelain.
Porcelain or even Bone China
Even though chip and crack-resistant, porcelain and bone china can split, crack or chip if you handle them improperly or get them too hot in the microwave. But the same thing happens with tempered glass or plastic dinnerware, two additional kinds of durable dinnerware. A few plastic dinnerware melts if you put it into the fridge, and if you break tempered glass dinnerware, it shatters into many pea-sized pieces. Rather than buying a patterned dinnerware, choose white porcelain or bone china because of its timeless appeal. Compare both side-by-side to determine your preference, as routine porcelain china is much more permeable than bone china, but it’s also the more fragile of both.
Formal and Informal Dinnerware
Many homemakers used to buy two sets of dinnerware, a regular chinaware — not made from the same clays as porcelain — along with a fine porcelain set for formal occasions, vacations and get-togethers. But nowadays that might not be so practical. Pick a plain white dinnerware set in porcelain or bone china which you could dress up or dress down depending on the occasion or easily replace an item, if necessary. Just verify the dinnerware is made from porcelain clays and does not contain silica, quartz or feldspar, which chinaware does, making it a less permanent choice than porcelain.