What’s The Difference Between Terracotta And Clay?

Clay Versus Terracotta
Clay Versus Terracotta

What Is The Difference Between Clay And Terracotta?

How are Terracotta and Clay different? Clay is a raw material, but terracotta is clay that has been molded and fired. Terracotta items are often composed of any kind of organic clay, but earthenware clay has the brown-orange hue associated with the term. Low-temperature firing produces a porous and permeable surface in terracotta items.

Clay comes in a variety of colors, from white to grey to brown to deep red or orange, whereas terracotta has a unique red and orange tint. Clay is a natural substance containing hydro-aluminum silicate fine particulate matter and other minerals. Terracotta refers to a form of earthenware clay that is easily accessible and which has rich red and orange shades, pottery, or other articles produced with that clay.

Clay Versus Terracotta Illustration
Clay Versus Terracotta Illustration

What is Clay?

Clay may have varied colors depending on the soil composition, from white to gray to brown, or orange, and the red-orange color of terracotta. The term clay is a generic phrase used to mean materials for three-dimensional object modeling and creation. Clay can consist of natural components such as minerals, however, varieties of clay can also be constructed of man-made materials such as polymers. The most common varieties of organic clay are earthenware, stoneware, and kaolin.

There are variable degrees of plasticity in different clay formations. The capacity to stretch or bend is called plasticity. The more plastic a clay, the simpler it is to mold in many forms, i.e. Tone may change in colors from white to gray to brown to deep red or orange depending on the soil composition.

Various kinds of clay with various characteristics are available. Depending on their characteristics, they have varied purposes. The three common types of pottery are Earthenware, Stoneware, and Porcelain.

Earthenware Clay

Earthenware clay includes iron and other impurities, which allow optimal hardness to be achieved at low temperatures. It’s permeable, extremely plastic, and easy to use.

Earthenware pots made from clay fired at low temperatures are porous and require heavy layers of glazing to be utilized for water storage. Earthenware clay pots are frequently produced from impure clays that contain rock and sand particles. Clay for earthenware pots is frequently collected from streams where it has settled and produced clay deposits. Temperatures of 1700 to 2100 degrees Fahrenheit are used to burn earthenware clay pots.

Stoneware Clay

Stoneware clay is generally grayish in its raw form. Usually, it is burned at high temperatures, changing its color to medium gray or brown. The clay is hard, thick, and stone-like after the burning. It is permeable and flexible.

Stoneware is a kind of clay that is fired between 2100 and 2300 degrees Fahrenheit at a medium temperature. Stoneware is the most common form of clay used to make tableware and cookware. Stoneware is constructed of strong, durable clay with few impurities, making it less porous than earthenware and hence suitable for storing liquids without leaking.

Porcelain Clay

Porcelain clay is a versatile clay that can make beautiful and fine art home products. Porcelain is burned at a much greater temperature than other clays (up to 2550 degrees Fahrenheit). The material becomes vitrified as a result of the firing. Stoneware is used to make tableware and is fired at temperatures ranging from 2100 to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another form of clay is porcelain, which is produced largely of pure kaolin or China clay. Porcelain clay has relatively few impurities and hardens at extremely high temperatures. Porcelain is a tough clay that may be easily shattered. The surface of porcelain becomes smooth and glossy after firing, thus reducing the need for glazing.

Clay pots can also be classified by the type of clay used to manufacture them. The distinction between purity and color is straightforward. Porcelain is a form of clay that is approximately 100 percent pure and is used to create high-end china and pots. Red, white, yellow, gray, and black clays can also be used to make pots.

What is Terracotta?

Terracotta is an Italian word meaning ‘baked earth.’ Terracotta refers to the pottery formed of organic clay that is glazed or unglazed inside the kiln of a potter. Archeologists and historical artists refer to artifacts produced without the wheel of a potter as terracotta, such as sculpture or tile. The potter’s objects are known as pottery. Terracotta is also the fired clay color, which contains a significant quantity of iron oxide.

Terracotta may refer to a kind of clay with deep red and orange colors that is easily accessible. Terracotta also refers to pottery and other organic clay products that are baked in a kiln. Some people also characterize any clay product with a reddish-orange tint by using the word terracotta.

Terracotta clay is a reddish-orange clay that may be found almost anywhere. This color comes from the iron component, which interacts with air to produce various colors such as orange, red, yellow, and even pink. Terracotta is not, therefore, pure clay. Furthermore, terracotta is a porous clay that is easy to deal with. It comes in two varieties: glazed and unglazed. It may also be made waterproof with one layer of glaze. Most notably, terracotta is an earthenware material.

Earthenware artwork, clay containers, water, and wastewater pipes, roofing tiles, and bricks are all examples of terracotta. It has a lengthy and illustrious history all throughout the world.

Clay Versus Terracotta Summary

Terracotta is clay that has been molded and fired. Low-temperature firing produces a porous and permeable surface in terracotta items. Terracotta items are composed of any kind of organic clay, but earthenware clay has the brown-orange hue associated with the term.


Ceramic Firing Techniques – Firing is the method for making ceramics that can endure a lot of pressure. Firing takes place in an oxygen-rich environment. When it comes to firing pottery, there are two primary methods. The use of kilns and open firing are the two methods. The crucial step in the ceramic process is firing. It’s the point at which clay transforms from clay to usable ceramic.


Clay is a natural substance containing hydro-aluminum silicate fine particulate matter and other minerals. Terracotta refers to a form of earthenware clay that has rich red and orange shades. Clay comes in a variety of colors, from white to grey to brown to deep red or orange.

Comparison of Key Differences Between Clay And Terracotta

Clay Characteristics

Clay Composition

Contains particles of hydrous aluminum silicates and other materials.

Clay Color

Has many colors ranging from Gray, Brown to Deep Red and Orange.

Clay Forms

Available in many different forms like earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain.

Terracotta Characteristics

Terracotta Composition

An earthen clay is abundantly available and easily accessible with a heavy iron component. A very porous clay.

Terracotta Color

Rich Red-Orange color emanating from the high iron content.

Terracotta Form

Mainly earthenware that cones in glazed or unglazed forms.

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