How Is Fine China Made?


Quick Answer

Fine china is made by heating clay until mullite and glass form within it. Mullite strengthens the clay and increases its tolerance of drastic temperature changes. The final result is a smooth, strong and hard white material called porcelain or fine china.

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Full Answer

Plain porcelain is translucent and white, but many porcelain objects are coated in vibrantly colored decorative glazes. Glazing changes the color of the porcelain and protects it from stains. White porcelain culinary vessels have a clear glaze that protects against stains from beet juice, tomatoes, turmeric and other highly pigmented ingredients. Many porcelain items have colored enamel decorations applied on top of the glaze. Some manufacturers prefer to apply pure pigments such as cobalt beneath the final layer of clear glaze.

Porcelain also has industrial uses. Its durability and nonconductivity make porcelain a favorite material for electrical insulation devices on high-voltage power lines. Porcelain is also an excellent material for floor tiles because it is hard, smooth and waterproof. Its moisture resistance and invulnerability to rust make porcelain ideal for sinks, toilets, bathtubs and other plumbing fixtures.

The closest relative of porcelain is bone china, which has a similar appearance and texture. Both substances contain large amounts of kaolin clay. Bone china also contains bone ash, from which it derives its faint yellow hue.

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