Which plates are really most durable?
May 21, 2020 3:29 PM   Subscribe

"Despite its fragile presentation, bone china is actually the strongest and most durable ceramic dinnerware. " I read online that bone china is the most durable, followed by porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware. However, a relative's fine china set broke itself in storage. I was told it might be because it was stored stacked instead of on edge. I've kept stoneware in stacks with no problem. Help me understand this seeming contradiction.
posted by SandiBeech to Shopping (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's about force and mass. When you see good moving boxes specially designed for china, they usually have slots. You put padding in the bottom and wrap each piece and then put it vertical in the slot. Think about if you could break a plate by punching it. Would you rather try to punch the plate in the middle, face on or on its edge? When you have them stacked horizontally like you would in a cabinet, a force applied to the top can just goes right through and will keep traveling through until the force is exhausted. When you are end-on, the force has the entire plate to resist it and may disperse the force through the plate without cracking. Plus, if it's a point load, it's unlikely to hit all the plates surrounding it at the same time. A point load on a stacked set of plates will definitely hit all the plates at once maybe cracking just one but possible all of them.

Plates stacked vertically are prone to chipping on the edges due to force applied and then dispersed where the plate is thin, at the edge.
posted by amanda at 3:54 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]

The article you linked also notes that porcelain is stronger than stoneware, but because they add glass to it, and glass is obviously breakable. Ceramics just don't have any flex, but the additional strength that porcelain or bone china have usually translates to the ability to make things out of them that are much thinner than stoneware would be. It's like how you can easily find things saying spider silk is stronger than steel cable, but you can easily break a spider web and no one's going to make a steel cable the thickness of spider silk
posted by LionIndex at 5:15 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]

Came here to make the spider silk reference. Left disapointed.

So "strongest" and "most durable" are terms that have murky, at best, meanings as opposed to measurements of things like tensile strength (Newton / m^2), hardness (Rockwell scale), toughness (Joule / m^3), ductility (unitless but important and measureable), and stress-strain curves into the elastic and plastic deformation regions and to fracture point are all things that have meaning and can have implications drawn from them.

Sites like thie one linked above by OP are useful in the most generic of senses but, when it comes to actual enginering and inferences and claims, are mostly useless when it comes to hard math and numbers, as should be expected.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:54 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]

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