Porcelain Enamel Coatings

Porcelain enamel coatings have their origins in ancient times when they were mainly used for decorative and ornamental purposes. From the industrial revolution onwards, these coatings have started to be used also as functional layers, ranging from home applications up to the use in high-technological fields, such as in chemical reactors.

The excellent properties of porcelain enamel coatings, such as fire resistance, protection of the substrate from corrosion, resistance to atmospheric and chemical degradation, mainly depend and originate from the glassy nature of the porcelain enamel matrix itself. On the other side, the vitreous nature of porcelain enamel coatings limits their application in many fields, where mechanical stress and heavy abrasion phenomena could lead to nucleation and propagation of cracks inside the material, thus negatively affecting the protective properties of this coating. Many efforts have been made to improve the abrasion resistance of enamelled materials.

On this regard, researchers showed encouraging results and proposed many different improvement approaches. Now it is possible to obtain porcelain enamels with enhanced resistance to abrasion. Differently, the investigation of the mechanical properties of porcelain enamel coatings remains a poorly studied topic. In the literature, there are interesting methodological ideas, which could be successfully applied to the mechanical study of enamelled materials and could allow to have further insights on their behaviour. Thus, the path that should be followed in the future includes the mechanical characterization of these coatings and the search for new solutions to address their brittle behaviour.

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Advances in Porcelain Enamel Technology

Porcelain is made from baked clay

Porcelain itself is a ceramic material made from a type of white clay called kaolin, plus feldspars, quartz, steatite, and other rocks. To make regular porcelain, the whole mixture is baked at 1300-1400 degrees. Porcelain enamel is made when the porcelain is melted together with a stronger metal. This makes porcelain enamel cookware both light and strong, with low porosity, so it is naturally non-stick.

Pay attention to porcelain coatings

Oddly enough, though, some companies seem to want to coat their porcelain enamel cookware with chemical non-stick coatings or to use potentially toxic heavy metals and other compounds in glazes and in the enamel mixture. It pays to be picky about porcelain enamel cookware and to ask questions of manufacturers if it’s not clear what they use in their pots and pans.

Unlike somewhat terrifying porcelain dolls that could be extras in a Stephen King movie adaptation, porcelain enamel cookware is a fun addition to the kitchen. That’s because it is available in a variety of colors and does not fade or peel when used according to instructions. My advice, though, would be to avoid porcelain enamel in reddish tones and to favor those that are blue, given that some Le Creuset models with a red tone have tested positive for lead and cadmium. The Signature Enameled Cast Iron Braiser (in a blue shade like Marseille or Marine) from Le Creuset is a good option for one-pot meals (View on Amazon).

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NonStick Cookware Alternatives – Porcelain Enamel Cookware

What is Porcelain Enamel Cookware?

Porcelain enamel is made by heating a powdered glass formulation known as a frit to a very high temperature (at least 1380 degrees Fahrenheit). At this point, the frit liquefies and flows over the substrate (usually steel, cast iron or aluminum) and forms a very hard, durable finish. (Learn more about porcelain enamel.)

Is Porcelain Enamel Cookware Safe?

20200115At one time, porcelain enamel cookware was known to contain unsafe levels of lead and cadmium. Fortunately, modern manufacturing has now reduced these elements to amounts well below that permitted by the United States Food and Drug Administration. To be safe, consumers should only purchase high-quality products made by reputable firms. Avoid off-brands and cheap products not approved for sale in the United States.

Porcelain enamel cookware combines beauty, safety, and performance. Like ceramic cookware, enamelware is nonstick and does not have the potential toxicity issues of Teflon. Not surprisingly, porcelain enamel cookware has become very popular.

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5 Benefits of Porcelain Enamel Cookware

1. Light Weight Pans

Porcelain enamel cookware is sturdy enough for a professional kitchen, yet light enough for everyday use. A 12 inch porcelain enamel skillet can weigh just 2.1 lbs, as compared to a 12 inch non-stick skillet that weight over 5 lbs.

2. Can Go in the Oven

Unlike most non-stick cookware that can only be used on the stove top up to the medium heat setting, Porcelain Enamel Cookware can be used on the stove top or in the oven up to 350° Fahrenheit. This allows you to use one pan for the entire cooking process, especially if the dish requires starting on the stove top and finishing in the oven, such as browning meat or chicken to sear the outside, then putting in the oven to cook the inside.

3. Stay Cool Handles

One of the biggest issues with porcelain enamel cookware that goes in the oven is that the handles can get too hot to touch. The unique rubberized stay cool handles prevent burns when removing from the oven or stove top.

4. Comes in Several Exciting Colors

While many non-stick skillets and pans come in just black, grey, or silver, the Porcelain Enamel II Cookware Set, for example, comes in several exciting two-tone gradient colors, including: Blue, Red, Orange, Fennel, Green and Purple, to match your kitchen, favorite color or even your personality.

5. Scratch Resistant Outer Shell

Due to the baked on enamel external coating, porcelain enamel non-stick cookware is scratch resistant, and can hold up in even the most demanding kitchens.

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About Porcelain Enamel

What is porcelain enamel?

Porcelain enamel on steel is a glass-like, non-porous material made up of silica, borax, soda, and various metal oxides that are fused to steel sheets.

How is it affected by the elements?

Porcelain enamel on steel used for exterior surfaces is unaffected by sun, rain, snow, dust, or industrial atmospheres. The hard impervious surface defied the worst of weather conditions and will last the life of the building.

What is the durability of color?

The color is permanent and will not oxidize, fade, peel, or blister. Shades of red, orange, and yellow, usually the most fugitive in the color spectrum, are unaffected by the sun.

What are the size limitations?

Our porcelain enamel on steel products are generally produced in lengths of up to ten feet and widths of up to four and one-half feet (twenty square feet recommended) with edge flanges for stiffness and concealed fasteners.

What are the maintainance requirements?

Porcelain enamel on steel is maintenance-free and does not need refinishing or repainting.

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What Is Porcelain Enamel Cookware?

Porcelain enamel cookware refers to pots and pans made of metal that’s coated with a form of glass called porcelain enamel, which is bonded to the iron, steel, stainless steel or aluminum metal to form the body of the cookware. Porcelain enamel cookware from a host of manufacturers offers a huge variety of solid colors and designs on an easy-to-clean surface.

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Quality Differences

Porcelain enamel provides a hard, lustrous finish that won’t scratch, corrode, fade or peel with normal use. However, it may chip or crack if the utensil is dropped on a hard surface. Most porcelain enamel cookware has an outside enamel coating, with teflon or plain metal on the inside. It comes in a wide range of prices. Price differences are based on metal thickness, number of porcelain enamel coats, color and design, and accessories such as covers and high-temperature plastics for handles. Better grades of porcelain enamel cookware have seamless coatings.

Enamelware

Enamelware is a variety of porcelain enamel cookware that’s distinguished by having a porcelain enamel coating on the inside as well as the outside. Enamelware has a base of steel, stainless steel or cast iron. The porcelain coating is applied after the utensil is formed to create a smooth, non-porous surface inside and out. Enamelware isn’t affected by heat, humidity or food acids and can be used to cook, bake or roast foods, or as a serving or storage utensil. Cheap enamelware can scratch or chip easily; high-quality ware has a thicker enamel coating that resists scratches and chips.

Cookware Cautions

Porcelain enamel cookware is very strong and durable, with excellent heat-transfer characteristics. It doesn’t react with acidic foods like tomatoes, and you can use any type of metal or plastic cooking utensils. But there are some things you shouldn’t do with this cookware. For instance, you shouldn’t use it over high heat for extended time periods. Extreme high temperatures can melt the porcelain enamel coating. And you shouldn’t allow porcelain enamel cookware to boil dry, especially on a glass or ceramic cooktop. This can crack the finish.

Cleaning Porcelain Enamel

Porcelain enamel is quick and easy to clean. This cookware is stick-resistant, and resists staining and scratching. Clean your cookware while it’s still warm; don’t let it sit around until food residue dries and hardens. Use a dish sponge or a plastic or nylon dish scrubber. Don’t use steel wool soap pads or abrasive household cleaners as these can scratch the finish over time. Alternatively, you can put porcelain enamel cookware in a dishwasher after wiping out any food residue.

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The Porcelain Enamel

Porcelain enamel is a mixture of mineral content glass and inorganic pigments fused to a steel substrate at temperatures exceeding 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme temperature literally melts and fuses the pigments to the steel, forming a molecular bond and creating a permanent coating.

Graphics are applied with glass-based inks by a variety of methods including traditional screen printing, stenciling and a high resolution photographic process. Each color is applied and fired one layer at a time. This process produces the most visually striking and durable signage material available.

Common Applications

Interpretive and wayfinding signage for national,

state, and local parks, zoos, aquariums and municipalities.

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What is porcelain enamel?

In general terms, vitreous enamel, porcelain enamel, copper enamel and jewelry enamel all refer to the same thing. Enamel is a glassy compound applied to and bonded by heat (fusion) to a metal surface; to a copper surface at 1450 degrees F., and to a glass surface at 1100 degrees F. to 1500 degrees F.

The most common glass is a fusion of silica, soda, lime, and a small amount of borax. Though normally transparent, various amounts of opacity can be produced by adding or growing crystals within the glass structure. A wide range of colors are produced by incorporating certain elements, mostly transition metals.

The physical properties of glass can be controlled to permit bonding to most metals, for example, gold, platinum, silver, copper, steel, cast iron and titanium.

The word ‘Porcelain Enamel’ refers to the glass material as well as to the finished product.

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The Porcelain Enamel Industry

Porcelain enamel has been around for 4000 years and shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. Although alternative materials like stainless steel, plastics and paints continue to gain market share and have completely taken over some markets, such as dishwashers, the cooking and laundry appliance markets remain strong, and total frit production remains about the same. However, some manufacturers believe a huge revolution in materials technology is needed to ensure the continued success of the industry. Both suppliers and manufacturers are doing their share to help ensure that this revolution takes place.

Porcelain enamel coatings are made from a frit based on low melting temperature (2000 to 2500°F) borosilicate glasses. After the glass raw materials are melted (generally in recuperative furnaces) at rates ranging from 5 to 50 tons per day, rapid quenching is used to shatter the resultant glass into small particles. Further particle size reduction is achieved by grinding. The coating is applied using wet suspension or dry electrostatic powder processes, and is then heated to about 1500°F to produce chemical bonding with the metal substrate.

Pre-milled frits now allow enamelers to custom blend their own enamel formulations without using costly milling equipment. The enameler can blend the exact amount required for the job, eliminating waste. Blends can be made almost “just in time,” eliminating the need for a large wet enamel inventory.

Many frit manufacturers have switched from air/gas to oxygen/gas combustion systems to lower their emissions, and this trend is expected to continue. Smelters have become more automated, and larger capacities are being used as product volumes increase through the increased standardization of frits.

For instance, unique appearance characteristics are under development, including metallic lusters to simulate copper metal or stainless steel appearances. Refinements in frit products are also being made to achieve “easy to clean” oven coatings, as well as infrared reflectivity for faster cooking. In addition, hybrid coatings are being investigated to take advantage of properties provided by both porcelain enamel and organic coatings.

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Safety Issues of porcelain enamel

Now for the safety issues. Porcelain enamels are very fine particles and it is important that you use every precaution when handling this product. This involves not only how they are stored, but care when using this powder. Containers that are airtight with a clear top should be used for storage purposes.

These minute razor-sharp pieces of glass can be easily breathed in and it is vital that a respirator with sufficient NS rating – NS97 and good ventilation are available during usage. Wear a respirator when cleaning up an area and use only wet rags, damp wipes, or moist paper towels. Use good judgment in handling this potentially dangerous material.

Your product should have come with the Material Safety Data Sheet from OSHA. Read it for any safety precautions and information. Remember when learning how to porcelain enamel be safe!

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