The composition of porcelain is highly variable, but the clay mineral kaolinite is often a raw material.
Porcelain is fired at a higher temperature than earthenware so that the body can vitrify and become non-porous.
Porcelain originated in China, and it took a long time to reach the modern material.
The word paste is an old term for both the unfired and fired materials.
A more common terminology for the unfired material is "body"; for example, when buying materials a potter might order an amount of porcelain body from a vendor.
Porcelain has been described as being "completely vitrified, hard, impermeable (even before glazing), white or artificially coloured, translucent (except when of considerable thickness), and resonant".
Traditionally, East Asia only classifies pottery into low-fired wares (earthenware) and high-fired wares (often translated as porcelain), without the European concept of stoneware, which is high-fired but not generally white or translucent.It combines well with both glazes and paint, and can be modelled very well, allowing a huge range of decorative treatments in tablewares, vessels and figurines. The European name, porcelain in English, come from the old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell.Properties associated with porcelain include low permeability and elasticity; considerable strength, hardness, toughness, whiteness, translucency and resonance; and a high resistance to chemical attack and thermal shock.The following section provides background information on the methods used to form, decorate, finish, glaze, and fire ceramic wares.Unlike their lower-fired counterparts, porcelain wares do not need glazing to render them impermeable to liquids and for the most part are glazed for decorative purposes and to make them resistant to dirt and staining.In soil mechanics, plasticity is determined by measuring the increase in content of water required to change a clay from a solid state bordering on the plastic, to a plastic state bordering on the liquid, though the term is also used less formally to describe the ease with which a clay may be worked.