All the earthenware pottery that you use around the house is glazed. Glazing prevents liquids from the food and beverages from seeping out through the porous ceramic. There are lots of different types of glazes, and each of them has a slightly different effect on the finish of the pottery. The first earthenware pottery designed for holding food and liquids is thought to have originated at about 10,000BC. But the idea for glazing was discovered only some two thousand years later. Let’s take a look at some of these glazes, their benefits, and the best way to keep them clean and safe from erosion.
Salt glazed pottery has a glassy shine, whilst the earthen pottery retains its distinctive earthenware appearance. It was first created by throwing salt into the kiln during the highest temperatures as part of the firing process. The earliest known production of salt glaze pottery took place in Germany in the late 13th Century. This process produces a large amount of air pollution, and as a result has been banned in modern times. Very few large scale potteries around the world are still licensed to produce it.
Ash glaze is a much earlier form of pottery glaze and it is still used today. The process began in about 1000BC in China. The potters realised that the ash from the kiln that landed on the pots during the firing process left behind a green coloured glaze, so they began covering the pots in the ash before they were put in. The more ash that is used in the glaze, the different the shade that can be achieved on the final product.
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. It is said to have originated in the 9th century, and was the first to be called majolica.
The second is the much later British, lead-glazed pottery version that was first produced under the name Palissy Ware in the mid-19th Century. This is a very different style of glazing, 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 is very likely that it will be completely fine for dishwasher use, and the product label should say so. You should be careful to look out for any cracks in the glaze however. The cracks in the glaze are known as ‘crazing’, and they take the form of a spider-web pattern. These cracks expose the soft porous ceramic that the glaze is meant to cover and protect. So extra care should be taken with any crockery showing signs of these cracks. If your earthenware crockery is suitable for dishwasher use, then make sure you use the best dishwasher detergent for the job: Finish Quantum Regular.