About 99% of the world’s toilets are made from a special kind of porcelain, while the remaining 1% is made from metal or other components.
While most toilets are made from porcelain, different manufacturers use different components and crafting processes to achieve that fine glossy finish that makes the toilet sparkle.
Fun fact. Back in the first half of the 20th century, many toilets were wrapped and finished in ornate wood, but this trend was dropped due to sanitary concerns.
Today’s toilets are all made from porcelain but let’s delve deeper down the water hole to see the whys and hows of standard toilet manufacturing.
What Are Toilets Made Of
The most important aspect of toilet manufacturing is the raw materials. Most people know porcelain is a ceramic material used to create pots and mugs but think porcelain is a raw material. Porcelain is a mixture of different ingredients.
Some of the materials included in porcelain production include silicate materials, powdered feldspar, and kaolin. Some manufacturers might include other raw materials to create a proprietary mix to get a more premium feel or cut back on materials and expenses.
Porcelain is the preferred material for making toilets due to its resilience. The finished product is smooth and easy to maintain when porcelain is produced correctly. Manufacturers use a treatment called vitreous china to make the porcelain fully water-resistant. Some toilets are described as “Vitreous china” toilets rather than ceramic or porcelain.
Vitreous china is an enamel-like coating that gives the toilet its famous glass-like finish that sparkles and shines. It also makes the toilet smooth on the surface and non-porous for easy cleaning and maintenance.
Besides porcelain, there are a few other materials used for creating toilets. For example, portable toilets are usually made from plastic, but the ones in our homes are porcelain. Why is that, you may ask.
Basically, plastic is more expensive to produce. Creating a whole toilet bowl from plastic would require a tremendous amount of plastic and will never come close to the strength and resistance of the porcelain counterpart. Moreover, plastic is known to degrade over time as the moisture and waste eventually leach into the plastic. These toilets have structural weaknesses, and they are also far less sanitary.
Steel is a super-strong material that’s highly rigid and durable, and yet we still make our toilets from breakable porcelain. Why? The problem with steel is the uncomfortable user experience. Steel is sensitive to changes in temperature; your buttocks will be freezing on a cold day and sweaty in hot temperatures. While steel toilets can be fitted with wooden or plastic seats, the finished products just look off and can’t be compared to the refined look of a porcelain toilet.
How Are Porcelain Toilets Made
The path between the thick porcelain batter and the finished glossy toilet is long and demands a lot of attention to detail. Usually, the process lasts several days to ensure that the finished product is durable, safe, and easy to use. Different manufacturers use different methods, of course, but here are some key steps for creating a shiny porcelain toilet.
As you know, toilets are made in different shapes and sizes. There are standard toilets, comfort or chair height toilets, accessible toilets, and more. To create toilets in different shapes and sizes, manufacturers rely on molds.
Once the mold is complete, the manufacturers create negative impressions of the mold, and the impressions of the mold are taken in sections in most cases. The molds for toilets are called “tools” in the toilet industry.
Filling the Molds
After the molds are created, the manufacturers fill them with the thick porcelain paste we mentioned above. The paste will be softened to be dense and free-flowing to fit the mold perfectly. After the molds are filled, they are allowed to cool down for a spell, and some manufacturers even place them in low-heat air-drying chambers for a more premium toilet.
The goal of the cooling process is to remove as much moisture as possible from the toilet. The exact figures of the moisture content in each toilet vary by the manufacturer’s formula, so we can’t give you an exact figure, but the standard is 20%. Reducing the amount of moisture is key for the next step of manufacturing.
Glazing the Toilet
After the toilets are dry, the manufacturers remove them from their molds and start sanding them down to remove any mold imperfections. They remove any overflow sections and refine any hard edges. After everything has been sanded down, the toilet is assembled.
Once the toilets are assembled, they are enameled or glazed with the vitreous china finish. A thick coat of enamel is applied to the toilet to ensure they are completely waterproof.
Baking or Firing
This is the final stage on the production line before the toilet can be ready for shipping. The toilets are placed in industrial kilns or ovens and baked at high temperatures around 2.400 Fahrenheit. This firing process removes any remaining moisture and hardens the enamel to give it that glossy finish we all look for in a toilet.
Some manufacturers use a red dye that burns while glazing to ensure the toilet is baked evenly. Would you like your toilet medium-rare? We wouldn’t recommend it. The exact time the toilets spend in the oven differs between manufacturers, but the standard is around 18 hours.
Benefits of Porcelain Toilets
While other types of toilets will get the job done, porcelain toilets are the best option due to many factors.
- Porcelain is cheap and easy to mold and shape.
- Porcelain is entirely waterproof.
- Porcelain is clean and easy to maintain.
- Tempered porcelain is very sturdy.
- Porcelain is not sensitive to temperature changes like steel is.
- Finally, porcelain is shiny and glossy, giving your bathroom a nice and clean look.
Now that you know how toilets are made and the whole manufacturing process, you are prepared to make the best decision when buying a toilet. While there are cheaper toilets, we recommend you spend some extra bucks to get a durable and shiny enameled toilet that will serve you for years.