What is Stoneware and how is it different from other types of Dinnerware?

Cream colored handmade stoneware dinner set with plates, cup, and pitcher

When shopping for dinnerware you might see any and all of the following terms to describe different materials: ceramic, terracotta, stoneware, porcelain, pottery, earthenware, china. The list goes on and on. Here we’re going to talk about stoneware and how it differs from all the other types of pottery out there, how it’s made, and what the benefits are. 

Benefits of stoneware dinnerware 

Stoneware makes a great option for dinnerware, especially if you’re looking for a handmade dinnerware set. Unlike terracotta or earthenware, stoneware is heat resistant and durable. The heat resistance means that it is dishwasher and microwave safe, and in some cases also oven safe. 

It’s best to check with the manufacturer if your stoneware is oven safe. Many pie dishes, casserole dishes, and baking trays are stoneware. Most stoneware can be used in the oven up to 350 degrees F, but others are made to be safe up to 450 degrees F. However, it is important to avoid rapid temperature changes when working with stoneware, so if you are using a stoneware dish to keep food warm after taking it out of the oven, avoid putting it down on a cold surface. It’s also a great idea to let a dish come to room temperature before putting it into a preheated oven.

The heat resistant properties of stoneware also allow you to wash your stoneware pieces in the dishwasher instead of hand-washing. Hand washing is always the more gentle option for any handmade dinnerware, but if you prefer the convenience of using the dishwasher, handmade stoneware that is labeled as dishwasher safe is a great option that allows you to get the beautiful handmade look with the added convenience of using a dishwasher. 

Stoneware is also more durable than other pottery, so it will be more resistant to chips and breakage than earthenware dinnerware such as terracotta. That being said, stoneware is not indestructible and should still be handled with care. 

How stoneware is made:

Stoneware can be made from naturally occurring stoneware clay. The clay will have minerals such as kaolinite, quartz, and mica in small quantities and can vary in color from almost white to darker colors from clays rich in iron. Stoneware can also be glazed with a large variety of colors. But the great thing about stoneware is that it doesn’t need to be glazed to be water-proof.

Stoneware can be made by forming clay on a potter’s wheel or with a mold. In the molding process, liquid clay is poured into a mold and allowed to harden to create the desired shape, after which it is glazed and fired. The method of forming the clay doesn’t have an effect on the durability of the final product, it’s just a preference of the maker to the best way to create the desired shape. 

The history of stoneware

“Stoneware” is a category of pottery. “Pottery” is a catch-all term for any vessels made by forming clay and then firing it. Pottery is one of the oldest human inventions, dating back to 25,000 BC! 

Pottery can be divided into three main categories: earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. The main difference between these three is the temperature at which it is fired. In most cultures stoneware was developed after earthenware but before porcelain.

Stoneware is fired at temperatures between 1,100 C to 1,200 C. The high temperature produces a non-porous material, meaning that it can hold liquids without absorbing it, even when it is not glazed. The high temperature also produces a tougher material, more resistant to heat and breakage. 

Now that you know a little bit more about what stoneware is and how it functions, you can use that knowledge on your next dinnerware purchase. Happy shopping!

Handmade matte black stoneware plates, pitcher, and mug