Difference Between Fine China, Bone China, And Porcelain

“If you have to dry the dishes / And you drop one on the floor / Maybe they won’t let you / Dry the dishes anymore.” —Shel Silverstein, “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes”

In A Nutshell

Bone china, fine china, porcelain: They can look very similar, but there’s a definite difference in what they’re made from. Bone china is, as its name suggests, made from bone—cow bone in particular, although in rare cases you could be eating off of a plate made from a dead person. The same manufacturing processes are used in making fine china, but without the bone content. Porcelain is also created in much the same way, but it’s fired at a higher temperature and the end result is much harder.

The Whole Bushel

Bone china is, as its name suggests, made from cow bone. The bone is finely ground into bone ash, and it is then mixed with feldspar, ball clay, quartz, and kaolin (a type of clay). The quality of the finished product is based on how much bone is in the mixture; a high-quality bone china should contain at least 30 percent bone and can go as high as 40–45 percent.

Porcelain has been around since around A.D. 620; more modern methods and mixtures started to be used around A.D. 1279. Originating in China, the earliest porcelains used kaolin (a type of clay) and pegmatite (a type of granite). Early European versions used clay and ground glass. In 1707, German manufacturers started using feldspar instead of glass in a process that continues today. In today’s porcelain, silica is also added to the raw ingredients. The raw materials are finely ground, cleaned, formed in a mold, and then fired.

The firing process is what creates either porcelain or fine china. If the temperature is high—around 1,455° Celsius (2,650° F)—the finished product is much more durable and is known as porcelain. If it’s fired at a lower temperature—around 1,200° (2,200° F)—it’s known as fine china. Fine china is much softer than porcelain, making it much more suitable for applications such as plates and cups. Porcelain is strong enough and durable enough that it’s suitable for a wide range of industrial applications such as electrical insulators.

Bone china undergoes two firing processes. The first causes the product to shrink, and about 20% of the pieces that are made will crack and break at this stage. The second firing happens after the piece is glazed, and melts the glaze into the piece. Those that don’t crack or break during this stage are then decorated with their final patterns. Many pieces are hand painted or sprayed, though in some cases decals can also be applied.

At a glance, it’s easy to tell the difference between bone china and fine china if you know what you’re looking for. The addition of bone ash gives bone china a warm color, while fine china will be a brighter white. If you hold the china up to the light, you’ll see that bone china has a translucent quality compared to fine china. Porcelain is a much more durable material, and is much harder than either type of china.

But then there’s the creepier side of china. American artist Charles Krafft has found that it doesn’t have to be cow bone that’s used for the bone component in bone china. The current mixture used for British bone china was created by a man named Josiah Spode (Spode is still a major manufacturer of bone china in the UK), and Krafft decided to simply swap out the cow bone ash in Spode’s recipe for human bone ash, retrieved from a crematorium and finely milled. Calling his new product “SPONE,” you can still commission him to create a special memento made of your loved ones.

Show Me The Proof

Narumi Corporation: How Bone China is Produced?
How Products Are Made: Porcelain
Noritake: Bone China vs Fine China
Charles Krafft: About

  • Hillyard

    Eating off dishes made from the bones of your relatives. I’ll pass.

    • disqus_mQK8aAfG2a

      ☺️ are you related to a cow? Bone ash comes from cattle. Still not a fun concept but I’m all for recycling!

      • Hillyard

        Did you read the article? There’s a company that will make bone china from the bones of your dead relatives.

        • disqus_mQK8aAfG2a

          Referring to this: “a high-quality bone china should contain at least 30 percent bone and can go as high as 40–45 percent.”
          As I was researching bone china I discovered that “Lenox,” the so-called only manufacturer to make bone china in USA, does not provide the percentage of bone ash when asked, but says only that it is a mixture of real and synthetic bone ash! Synthetic?

        • disqus_mQK8aAfG2a

          Referring to this: “a high-quality bone china should contain at least 30 percent bone and can go as high as 40–45 percent.” The UK requires bone ash content of 50% in order to be called “bone china”
          As I was researching bone china I discovered that “Lenox,” the so-called only manufacturer to make bone china in USA, does not provide the percentage of bone ash when asked, but says only that it is a mixture of real and synthetic bone ash! Synthetic?

        • Marilyn Conway

          YIKES!

      • “decided to simply swap out the cow bone ash in Spode’s recipe for human bone ash, retrieved from a crematorium” … “you can still commission him to create a special memento made of your loved ones”

      • JustASoccerDad

        @disqus – sometimes it is better to remain quiet and let people wonder about your intellect than to make a comment such as yours to tell the world you’re an idiot who can’t/didn’t read the article.

  • Shaniqua

    dis rasist cuz itz made wit white folks

    • Lisa

      Ill bet if you send your ashes over they’d be happy to turn you into dishes for your family.

      • Shaniqua

        u dum id b dead white girl

        • Lisa

          So you’ve been whitey bashing yourself all morning? Who’s dumb now?

          • Shaniqua

            Eyes not white

          • Lisa

            Your eyes are not white or your not? You said you’d be a dead white girl so your either confused, ignorant or a liar, either way you are an instigating troll

          • Shaniqua

            u da whitey

          • Lisa

            Are you sure about that? Can you tell by my picture? I could be any color & from anywhere on the planet & nobody knows anything but what i tell them. You just proved your ignorance. Good day to you shaniqua.

          • Hillyard

            As Blue and others have so often pointed out, we need a better class of troll on KN and LV.

          • Lisa

            I’d settle for a troll with any class lol. Thats the 1st time i’ve started a conversation with a troll but she was trolling every list i read this morning & it was all whitey’s a racist & i’m tired of hearing that from hating racists who aren’t smart enough to get the irony. Thanks Hillyard.

          • lbatfish

            Maybe we should post a “Help Wanted” notice on Usenet, where troll under-employment is reportedly at an all-time high.

          • shera

            I have about 4 trolls . How much for the big ones?

          • Shaniqua

            u iz rasist so u iz white

          • Lisa

            Your the only racist here today so if only whitey is racist then you are whitey

          • Shaniqua

            ok craker

          • Nick Mulgrave

            You should take a good hard at yourself and consider the wrong turns you took in your life that have made you the sorry creature you are today. Did you ever imagine yourself, a miserable, lonely white guy pretending to be an ignorant black female so you could troll strangers. Is your life really that sad and lonely that this is what you have resorted to so anyone will pay some kind of attention to you at all? Only one word can describe you. Tragic!

          • Shaniqua

            u iz dum

          • Nick Mulgrave

            What I find astounding is that out of 500 million sperm that you reached the egg first. And here you are in the miracle of life and you are so socially unequipped, that you cant even troll. That is how low you have fallen. A white serial masturbator pretending to be an illiterate black girl. May I ask? Do you wear dresses as well when you play pretend? Does you mother know you try on her underwear? What would happen if your father found out? Oh I forgot. He isn’t around anymore is he? Ta Ta!

          • Shaniqua

            u iz a rasist punk lil kid

          • soykapits

            Sad & Tragic.

          • Nathaniel A.

            Don’t feed the troll Lisa.

          • Lisa

            Just entertaining myself lol

          • Robert Lee

            ni**** shyte are u S/A

  • cire

    bones from humans sounds gross. ugh

  • Hadeskabir

    The amount of ways people disrespect the deceased, never stops to surprise me. Using the ashes of the dead to make china is so disrespectful and wrong in so many ways…

    • Hillyard

      It’s right up there with having them cremated and turned into a diamond. Although I can see my wife doing that to me. She’d tell people it was the only time I was worth something.

      • Hadeskabir

        I didn’t even know people did that! If people want that to happen to them when they die, it’s their wish so it should be fulfilled.

        That joke about your wife was damn funny!

    • lbatfish

      As a person who doesn’t believe in a hereafter, I would prefer to have my physical remains put to some good purpose, rather than taking up otherwise usable land or space on a shelf. My true “remains” are in the memories of those who once knew me, so I have no problem with the idea of part of me becoming a plate or a coffee mug (preferably one with a funny comment on it).

      And above all else, I do NOT want my death to sap the finances of family members in order to profit the funeral industry.

      • Hadeskabir

        I was referring to the fact that they probably do it without the family’s consent. If it was the wish of a decease, then it was a good thing they did it.

  • Exiled Phoenix

    I’d rather have my relatives made into a diamond…

  • chris

    the first section is incorrect. “Porcelain is also created in much the same way, […] the end result is much harder.” It’s exactly the other way around. Bone china is much harder than porcelain. To achieve similar strength as bone china, porcelain dishes require significantly thicker cross-sections.

  • Helen

    Hi everyone I need some advice, I’m new to the whole “fine china ect” and well it’s a long story but my sis bought my dad a china tea pot from vinnies (don’t judge k) and i accidentally broke the lid so I bought a new tea pot very similar same shape n all but it’s a cooler shinier blue white in the light and it looks slightly translucent it doesn’t stain where as the other one a warmer thicker china stains after one use, I’m trying to convince my family it’s finer than the other tea pot wit no lid but they STILL use the old tea pot WITH the new lid and I can see the difference in it and it’s driving me crazy so if u guys could help me prove it’s better would be great btw I bought the new tea pot with a milk pourer and sugar bowl from eBay for $60

  • disqus_mQK8aAfG2a

    FYI, In the UK, bone china is required to contain 50% bone ash. An important missing piece of information in the above writing, especially since the majority of bone china is lpoduced there. So to say it should contain at least 40% sounds like that figure was grabbed out of thin air?

    I have been trying to determine if the USA has any such requirement or if anyine making china with a sprinkling of bone ash can call it bone china?” Clearly Lenox bone china is not 50% bone ash — it is not as translucent nor as light in weight as UK bone china.

    Who governs this stuff in USA? I think it’s a serious consumer issue since no one really knows what the label “bone china” means unless it is manufactured in the UK.

  • Ayush sanki

    thank to save us from taking the fine boone china

  • ANSHUMAN MATHUR

    first i thought its a type of a clay. truth is here.

  • Gwan Monica

    My mom says Chinese products are not safe for customers. They export many toxic goods (especially for children’s health) to my country with cheap prices.
    Anyway, love this post!

  • The amount of ways people disrespect the deceased, never stops to surprise me.