Magnesium porcelain

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Similar to “New Bone China”, magnesium porcelain is a kind of “porcelain imitation” with outstanding properties. It looks like porcelain, it sounds like porcelain, it has a similar weight to bone china and yet it is not real porcelain! Magnesiumware is a new kind of material description, mainly originating from Asia, which only describes what it is not – namely porcelain.

According to ceramic mineralogy, magnesium porcelain belongs neither to the stoneware genus nor to the porcelain family. The technical and scientific description of ceramics is the definition of materials that are shaped from raw materials containing clay minerals or kaolin and fired by heat. Due to the composition of the raw materials or the composition of the “ball claims” (porcelain mass), magnesium porcelain belongs to the ceramic group of hard stoneware and has a Mohs hardness that is 1 to 3 levels lower than that of hard porcelain. This in turn has the advantage that the colours applied as decoration appear in a brighter and stronger colour yield.

The body colour is considerably more yellow than that of the white feldspathic porcelain and the firing temperature is lower (1,260 °C instead of 1,350 °C). Asian or Chinese magnesium porcelain is usually produced in the mono firing process by oxidation firing.

In daily use and with regard to dishwasher and microwave suitability, the material differences between magnesium porcelain and hard-fired feldspathic porcelain are hardly noticeable. Due to the lower Mohs hardness, the shards of magnesium porcelain are more susceptible to corrosion.

Why is there magnesium porcelain at all?

In the search for ever new substitutes for high-quality and expensive kaolin, magnesium was an increasingly good alternative in the years between 2013 and 2016, especially in China. The transparency of the cullet even surpassed that of bone china with good stability of the cullet. Magnesium porcelain seemed perfect for household and private users, especially since the mono firing at lower temperatures could save considerable costs.

However, the share of magnesium porcelain in the overall market is heavily regulated after 2016 as a result of China’s ratification of the UN Climate Protection Convention (Paris Climate Package) by the government of the People’s Republic, because the smooth firing of magnesium porcelain produces extremely high and polluting exhaust emissions. In China’s ceramics and porcelain industry, too, the efforts to protect the environment made by President Xi Jinping (習近平 / 习近平) and his government are clearly visible and have increased noticeably every year since he took office in 2013.

Magnesium porcelain in the gastronomy

Knowing that glaze hardness is somewhat lower – which reduces the cut resistance of flat parts (plates and platters) and promotes faster glaze corrosion – we consider magnesium porcelain to be quite suitable for commercial use. By nature, magnesium porcelain is usually thinner than hotel shards and therefore more fragile due to its design. Although durability and stability are lower than those of hard porcelain, magnesium porcelain can be used much more cost-effectively than expensive bone china, especially in the field of fine dining.   

Magnesium porcelain at Holst Porzellan

We do not carry magnesium porcelain as standard in our own collection. However, within the framework of our OEM business line, we have had considerable quantities of magnesium porcelain produced by our partner plants in recent years in response to demand for incentives, promotional gifts and above all for the gift articles segment. This is mainly in the form of magnesium cups. 

Note: For a better differentiation of the ceramic types, please also read our article: Quality classes of ceramics.

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