Glazed and Confused

The first earthenware pottery designed for holding food and liquids is thought to have originated around 10,000BC, and the idea of glazing – a technique that prevents liquid from seeping through the porous ceramic material – was discovered some two thousand years later. These days, all earthenware pottery for domestic use is glazed, and each type of glaze has a slightly different effect on the product’s finish. We’re going to take a look at some of these glazes, their benefits, and the best way to keep them clean and safe.

Salt Glaze

Salt-glazed pottery has a glassy shine, while still retaining its distinctive earthenware appearance. It was created by throwing salt into the kiln during the highest temperature part of the firing process. The earliest known production of salt glaze pottery took place in Germany in the late 13th century. This process produced a large amount of air pollution, and as a result has been banned from large scale production.

Ash Glaze

Ash glaze is a much earlier form of glaze that is still used today, which began in around 1000BC in China. Potters realized that the ash from the kiln that was landing on the pots during the firing process was leaving a green coloured glaze, so they began covering the pots in the ash before they were put in. Different shades of glaze can be achieved by using more or less ash.

Majolica

There are two different types of pottery that carry the majolica moniker. One is a tin-glazed type, which has a silvery white, shiny, and opaque covering which originated in the 9th century, and was the first to be called majolica.

The second is the much later British lead-glazed pottery that was first produced under the name Palissy Ware in the mid-19th century. This is a very different style, made in a completely different way, but the public began to refer to it as majolica and the name stuck.

Caring for your Earthenware

If your earthenware has been made recently then it’s likely to be completely fine for dishwasher use, and the product should say so. You should be careful to look out for any cracks in the glaze, however, which typically appear in a spider-web pattern and are known as crazing.” These cracks give access to the soft porous ceramic beneath, so extra care should be taken with any crockery showing signs of this. If your earthenware crockery is suitable for dishwasher use, make sure you wash it with Finish Quantum Max Shine & Protect to help clean away grease and dirt that may have built up.

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