In my world, families posses family plates containing the ashes or their predecessors.

Is it feasible to have crockery made of human ashes?

If so, what properties can I expect from the pottery? What colours and kinds of pottery (stoneware or even porcelain) can be made from the ashes?

Bonus: Are there any good resources to read up more on the topic?

Edit: If there are any recyclable products, any mention would be appreciated.

  • $\begingroup$ This question, in and of itself, really is not about worldbuilding. This is an example of "let me google that for you". This forum is really geared towards questions that address systems and fundamental properties of a fictional world. On its face, of course, this is a query for which you really should have done your research: it took me 0.52" to discover that there are indeed artisans & craftspeople who offer precisely this service. Now, you have an interesting topic here (and one that would be extremely interesting to explore in a worldbuilding discussion forum), (cont.) $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jun 14 '19 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ ...and one which you could easily address with Stack Exchange worthy questions. This question just isn't a good fit. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jun 14 '19 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ Jack Vance beat you to it, in "The Potters of Firsk" :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 15 '19 at 5:00

Totally. Bone China is made from bone ashes.

The porcelain made from bones is the strongest kind of porcelain. It is also very white and somewhat translucent.

Here is a link to more uses of ashes of bones, in case you are interested.

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  • $\begingroup$ How about the organs and tissue of the body? Would they have to be removed or simply reduce the quality of the product? $\endgroup$ – A Lambent Eye Jun 13 '19 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ @ALambentEye: By definition, cremation implies that soft tissue is burned off and converted into carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and water vapor, all of which are evacuated into the atmosphere. What remains after cremation is the mineral contents of the bones. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 13 '19 at 20:07


If we're talking about the ashes that would remain after a human body was exposed to kiln temperatures (> 1000°C), then we are talking about the mineral content, i.e. the calcium from bones.

Bone is made of calcium phosphate, which is pretty inert for ceramics purposes; it won't melt or undergo chemical reactions in a kiln, so it can't be used to make ceramics on its own (if we were talking about seashells, made from calcium carbonate, it would be a different story).

However, bone ash can be incorporated into ceramics as a filler, in the same sense that raisins or nuts can be baked into any kind of cake or bread. But in the same way you can't make a cake from just raisins, you still need to mix bone ash with a significant proportion of clay. It is the silicates in the clay that melt and fuse to create a solid material when the pottery is fired.

At these temperatures, the ash will basically be white – the very small amounts of other inorganic elements like iron will not be enough to affect the color noticeably.

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