What is Enamel?

What is Enamel?

We want to give you a bit more history and background into enamelware. Why is it such a classic? What actually is enamelware? Get ready for us to get technical... 

In a nutshell, Falcon Enamelware is made from a porcelain enamel – which is a powdered glass - bonded onto steel. The form (your bowl, cup, jug..) is pressed out of a sheet of steel, which is then dipped in the liquid enamel and fired in a kiln.

The porcelain enamel then hardens to a smooth, durable coating on the steel. In order to give good and long-lasting colour, particular metal oxides are added to each enamel mix, the colours are then a result of a chemical reaction in the kiln. Once the first firing is complete, the rim is hand-painted, the Falcon Enamelware crest added to the base and the whole thing is re-fired. And bingo... 

The technique of enameling goes back a long way, in fact to the ancient Egyptians and Chinese and then, in Britain, to the Romans (who are heralded for being so inventive). An enamel coating can be applied to stone, pottery, glass and metal - as long as the material can survive the firing process! These early enamel pieces were expensive, decorative and beautiful. It wasn’t until enameled cast iron first became a viable commercial product around 1850 that enameled cookware, sinks and bathtubs bought enameled wares into the home. 

Around the same time (give or take a few decades) successful enameling of steel heralded mass market cookware, as it was cheaper than cast iron. The enameling process meant the new cookware was easier to clean and scratch proof (the Victorian version of non-stick), with great heat conductivity and it was also much lighter in weight. In America in particular, enamelware destined for the table was often decorated, with stencils or speckles, in the hope of competing with mass-produced decorative pottery.

The robustness and lightness of enamelware also meant it was great for camping, apparently a late Victorian craze! But stiff competition from other materials, particularly plastic, pretty much saw off enamelware by the mid-twentieth century. Yet tastes for sustainable materials - and the sheer pretty utility of enamelware – have bought it back to grace our ovens, shelves and tables.

Remember that Falcon enamelware is non-toxic, child friendly, easy to clean, resistant to rust and will keep its colour for years...

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