Ceramics vs Pottery - What’s the Difference?

Pottery and Ceramics date back to prehistoric times with examples of clay pots and storage jars have been found in numerous archeological dig sites all over the world. Ceramics can also be found in a wide range of other products other than pottery. While all pottery is made out of clay, ceramics can also be made out of other materials as well. Ceramic, by definition, is any material that is permanently changed by heating and will not go back to its original form.


What are Ceramics?

Ceramics is a very broad term in that it refers to the physical change that occurs in a material when subjected to heat. As an example, all clay is considered ceramic material due to the fact when exposed to heat in a kiln to temperatures from between 660 degrees F and 1470 degrees F for a prescribed amount of time it will never change form again.


What are some examples of uses for Ceramics?

Since ceramic is a very broad term there are a number of uses for products made from ceramics today. Besides clay, there are several other materials that are considered ceramic as well, glazes that are typically used with ceramics are technically ceramics in their right. There are also ceramic materials used for commercial and industrials purposes such as silica carbide and zirconium oxide. Ceramic tiles can be found in a wide range of applications from residential homes and even were put on the underbelly of the former NASA Space Shuttles.


What is Pottery?

 Pottery is referred to as items, mainly containers of different sizes and shapes that are made from clay and fired in a kiln. These types of products can be either commercially produced (often called ceramics) or artistically made by an individual potter. Commercial pottery is typically made in factories and mass-produced.


What are some examples of uses for Pottery?

 While in prehistoric times and even in less industrialized countries pottery was widely used for holding and storing a wide variety of food and liquids. In more industrialized countries pottery is used more for decoration.


What are the primary differences between Ceramics and Pottery? 

The primary difference between pottery and ceramics is that all pottery is made from clay, but the exact same thing cannot be said of ceramics. While all pottery is considered to be examples of ceramic, but all ceramics are not made from clay, in fact, we discuss a couple of examples earlier in the article. All of the ceramics are made from materials that change form and turn permanent when exposed to extreme heat inside a kiln.


Final Thoughts

While pottery and ceramics share a common thread, they are not exactly the same. While they do share similarities there are plenty of things that make them very different as well. While examples of pottery show that pottery to be very useful, ceramics are much more versatile as a material. Pottery and Ceramics are two things that are so similar and yet they are so different at the same time.