Porcelain
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Porcelain is a type of Ceramic pottery also known as Fine China. The two terms are interchangeable because the earliest forms of Porcelain did originate in Ancient China during the Shang Dynasty around the 16th Century B.C. The slightly more modern, blue & white Chinese porcelain, with which we are likely familiar, was being produced in China by the mid-thirteenth Century so it has some staying power.

The Roman Empire traded with China for "green ware" but it was not until the Portuguese began their trading expeditions that Porcelain became pervasive in The West.

Porcelain, as opposed to Earthenware or Stoneware, is made from a high quality, refined clay (containing Feldspar, Kaolin, and Quartz) fired at temperatures around 2552˚F to produce an extremely hard, shiny material which can be so thin that it is almost translucent.

The quality of the fired Porcelain is dependent on the quality and purity of the original clay and the skills of the craftsman. Good Porcelain is extremely durable, and non-porous.

Varieties

Bone China is a variant of Porcelain where animal bones are charred to ash before being ground and then added to the initial refined clay used to make Porcelain. Bone China is fired at a slightly reduced temperature and yields the strongest and most durable China. It is very lightweight and delicate to the touch.

Culinary Uses

Most Porcelain is used for tableware, to serve meals at table. Because it is normally higher quality, Fine China is considered more formal but can be used whenever you wish.

Porcelain can be Dishwasher-Safe, Oven-Safe and Microwave-Safe, an exception to being Microwave-safe would be if there are any decorative metals used to finish the piece. Metals and Microwaves don't generally mix well. Also, Acids, like Vinegar, Tomato, Lemon, or other Fruits may also be reactive (in a bad way) with metals.   Your manufacturer can give you advise about your specific items.