What is the Difference Between Clay and Terracotta?

A question that usually pops up in most of our minds is, what is the difference between terracotta and clay? So based on all the research I ended up pinning thoughts on the difference between clay and terracotta in this blog. Terracotta material is fast becoming popular these days for several reasons. Prominent among those is the focus on a larger picture, that people probably never even imagined, say, a decade earlier. That reason is the crying need to reverse climate change.

Most of the mediums conventionally used for cooking in the present day for instance, including the heater, are harmful to the environment. Carbon footprint is visible in the use of certain appliances and containers. Everybody knows that governments worldwide are implementing environment-friendly policies from cutting down on fossil fuel use to encouraging electric vehicles, solar power and wind power to substitute prevalent power preferences to save the planet.

The danger is real and present, and only so much can be done at the government level, hence all of us need to get involved. In this lightning information age common people also realize that at the micro level, everyone needs to take proactive steps to cut pollution. Plastics are harmful and plastic bags have done great harm which the world is realizing a bit too late. Non-Biodegradable products need to be slashed on priority and no government can practically enforce this beyond a point. So here is where terracotta and terracotta cooking and storage options become a real lifesaver as well as a game changer.

The question about the difference between clay and terracotta is best answered by the phrase ‘Clay is moulded earth and terracotta is baked earth.” What is common is that both are clay in different forms. But what is different is that terracotta material is far stronger, more durable and more versatile too. The terracotta v/s clay argument is important to explain to the common man that just as all that glitters is not gold, all that is moulded from the earth is not terracotta.

Clay is an earthy material that contains fine particles of hydrous aluminum silicates and other minerals while terracotta refers to a type of easily accessible earthenware clay that has rich red and orange hues. Technically, terra-cotta, (Italian: “baked earth”) literally is a kind of fired clay but, in general usage, a kind of object—e.g., vessel, figure, or structural form—made from fairly coarse, porous clay that when fired assumes a colour ranging from dull ochre to red and usually is left unglazed.

Most clay moulded products, if not all, are disposable. That is not so with terracotta. From the famous terracotta army, we learn that terracotta can be easily preserved for eternity. Earthen vessels have limited options and can at best, be used for water storage or use in the shorter term. Whereas terracotta can be used for cooking, curd setting, food storage, lighting, roofing, idol making and similar purposes. At the micro level, terracotta allows for tastier and more nutritious intake while at the macro level, it aids in saving the environment.

In Uttar Pradesh clay vessels are still extensively used as disposables and the same is seen in several other states too. Use-and-throw clay vessels are ideal environment-friendly options. Clay pots may look sturdy and strong, but they’re often fragile and easy to chip or break. Because they’re porous, they absorb moisture like a sponge. However, if it comes to the durable usage of clay in the longer term, it replaces polluting vessels and habits with environment-friendly and healthier options. You can use a clay vessel to store water but to set and store curd or store milk for a longer time, terracotta is the best option. Refrigeration is a harmful process in health and environmental terms. If the refrigerator is dispensed with, the environment will hugely benefit.

What is required is to think out of the box and move out of our comfort zones and that is a tough task. But, just as we wore hugely uncomfortable masks 24×7 under threat of corona for over a year, we need to switch to terracotta usage more and more under threat from environmental pollution and global warming.

Bricks, cooking pots, art objects, dishware and even musical instruments such as the ocarina and the familiar tabla ‘bayan’ can all made be with clay. Clay is also used in many industrial processes viz. paper making, cement production, pottery, and chemical filtering. Clayey soil is also used to make pots, toys and statues. One type of clay, called kaolin, is used to make fine China and ceramics. Kaolin turns pure white when fired in an oven. Clays are important for filtering percolating groundwater, important for roadways and foundations, and even have spiritual value to certain cultures.

Trance Terra is one easy option to get terracotta products of your choice delivered to your home or place of work or recreation and get the ethnic look on the one hand and contribute to environmental improvement on the other. One of the reasons that Trance Terra is getting huge public support and adulation is that be it cookware, serving ware, divinity or lighting, Trance Terra spoils you for choice and pampers your finer senses for ethnic appeal and tastier, healthier foods and liquids. Trance Terra is fast becoming a highway to a cleaner, healthier lifestyle for almost anyone who wants to save the world.