What is melamine? What is porcelain? What is corella? Which ones of them is the best around? Which ones are better than the other? How should they be ranked?
When shopping for formal or casual dinnerware, you can avail of such dishes for dining in various materials, mostly of the ceramic or earthenware variety. You can also choose from bone china, stoneware, and porcelain. Every material has its pros and cons.
Today though, we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of melamine, porcelain, and Corelle.
Melamine vs. Porcelain vs. Corelle
Dishes can be made of melamine, porcelain, or Corelle (Corelle isn’t dishware material—it’s a brand of glassware, to be more specific). Become better educated when it comes to what melamine, porcelain, and Corelle brings to the table.
Experts categorize melamine as a type of hard resin or plastic. It’s a shiny, durable, and lightweight material compared to other plastic types. You can’t use melamine dishware in the microwave oven or conventional oven. Or you can use some melamine dishes if they’re labeled microwave-safe.
Don’t serve extremely hot food on melamine dinnerware because the food and the plastic should cause a reaction, like various chemicals being leached unto the food. Regardless, melamine dinner sets are known for their affordability. They’re also so light even children can carry them.
Melamine plates can’t bear temperatures of more than 159.8°F or 71°C. Because of this, health-conscious people don’t prefer getting the highly affordable yet caveat-filled melamine dinnerware.
You may also like: Is Melamine Microwave-Safe?
Porcelain or china—a ceramic material—is made of up quartz, silica, Kaolin clay, and feldspar fired at temperatures as high as 2,600°F or 1,427°C. Quality porcelain dishes have a sparkling or shiny white color to them, like clean teeth.
You can depend on porcelain to resist thermal shock or breakage after undergoing the stresses of sudden temperature drops or changes. Porcelain offers superior insulation, making them microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, and insulation-safe.
Porcelain is probably the most famous of the materials used for dinnerware. If your porcelain plates have metal accents made of platinum, gold, or silver on its borders though, they should be hand-washed instead of placed in the dishwasher. They’re also not microwave-safe.
See more: Is Porcelain Microwave Safe or Microwave-Safe? Absolutely. Learn Why on This Guide.
Corelle glassware is among the best of the best glassware brands out there, like Pyrex. This glassware and dishware brand has tempered glass known for its lightweight and thin properties. Furthermore, they feature amazing translucency while being white in color, which is perfect for dinnerware usage.
Customers love their Corelle glassware because they’re difficult to break, chip, or crack under pressure, even when faced with thermal shock or sudden temperature changes. They’re like Pyrex glassware or bakeware in that sense, but they’re more used for dinnerware sets because of their thinness.
Read more: Can Corelle Be Microwaved?
Corelle dishes are made in the USA. To be more specific, they’re made in Corning, New York. This particular glassware variant uses three layers of Vitrelle-tempered natural glass material, as opposed to porcelain, which is ceramic and made up of things like feldspar, silica, and Kaolin clay.
How Do Melamine, Porcelain, and Corelle Compare with Each Other?
Melamine dinnerware offers you unbreakable or at least hard-to-break plates at a cheap price. They’re glossy, inflexible, and not brittle in that they don’t easily break when dropped compared to porcelain or chinaware as well as thin Corelle.
Ironically, melamine is BPA-free but still not microwaveable. You can get quality melamine at a good price from the “Zak! Designs” brand. Corelle is the specific brand of glassware to look for.
Many brands from USA to China offer quality porcelain dinnerware. Brands to look for when it comes to porcelain dishes include Lenox, Noritake, and Villeroy & Boch.
Indestructible Yet Cheap vs. Upscale Dinnerware
Melamine is virtually indestructible (unless you’re really trying to break them), thus making them the perfect kids plates or outdoorsy plates in picnics. They’re typically dishwasher-safe as long as you place them at the top rack, but they leach off chemicals to your food when heated (not BPA though).
In contrast, porcelain and Corelle glassware might be more expensive yet also more brittle when it comes to being dropped at certain heights. However, they’re more dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe than melamine.
They give your dinnerware an upscale look versus the cheaper look of the indestructible melamine you can use for short-notice snacks, outdoor meals at your lawn, and other places where they can take rough handling.
Everyday Use Dinnerware
If you wish for dinnerware you can use everyday, porcelain dishes is the way to go followed by Corelle, which you can reserve for special occasions. However, that’s not to say porcelain can’t be reserved for formal dining itself to lend elegance to your every meal.
In contrast, Corelle doesn’t usually have the metal gold, silver, or platinum accents many porcelain plates have. Those accented porcelain dishes shouldn’t be dishwasher-washed and shouldn’t be microwaved.
The microwave-safe version of porcelain dinnerware includes those with no accents. Because Corelle glassware doesn’t have accents it’s safe for use in the oven, microwave, and dishwasher across the board.
Is Porcelain the Best Material of the Bunch?
Chinaware or porcelain dinnerware uses fine particle clay-like quartz, feldspar, and Kaolin clay that’s tempered by high temperatures to create that glossy look you’d typically see from centuries-old Ming Dynasty vases.
They’re durable if you take care of them and don’t accidentally drop them. They’re the dinnerware that you can use daily or on special occasions, firstly for their durability when not dropped (they’re brittle) and secondly for their elegant look.
How Melamine and Corelle Can Compare to Porcelain
Melamine is more “picnicware” or “snackware” than daily dinnerware unless you’re a college student used to cheapo dishes. It’s like a plate-shaped lunchbox you can take anywhere on the go, like when eating in parks or while camping.
Corelle can match porcelain in terms of being thin, durable, and nonporous (versus stoneware that can absorb water unto itself). However, this glassware is more used as bakeware than dinnerware or utilized for special occasions due to their expensiveness.
Factors for Consideration
Every dishware material has their own drawbacks, merits, price points, features, and qualities. Make sure you make the best decision when picking between melamine, porcelain, or Corelle glassware as well as other material types like Pyrex bakeware or stoneware.
All of them do break when dropped on impact to the floor except maybe metalware or baking (like an aluminum baking sheet for use in ovens only), but the brittle ones like porcelain dinnerware tend to be the easiest to clean and use for a long time provided that you don’t accidentally drop it.
- Jessica Harlan, “How to Identify the Different Types of Dinnerware“, TheSpruceEats.com, October, 28, 2019
- “STONEWARE VS CORELLE“, HomKitchn.com, October 20, 2021