china clay

china clay, one of the purest of the clays, composed chiefly of the mineral kaolinite usually formed when granite is changed by hydrothermal metamorphism. Usage of the terms china clay and kaolin is not well defined; sometimes they are used synonymously for a group of similar clays, and sometimes kaolin refers to those obtained in the United States and china clay to those that are imported. Some authorities term as china clays the more plastic of the kaolins. China clays have long been used in the ceramic industry, especially in fine porcelains, because they can be easily molded, have a fine texture, and are white when fired. France's clays are made into the famous Sèvres (see A. Brongniart) and Limoges potteries. These clays are also used as a filler in making paper. In the United States, deposits are found primarily in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania; china clay is also mined in England (Cornwall) and France.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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