A practical way to distinguish a particular type of porcelain is to examine a chipped or broken piece. Hard paste porcelain has a compact and fused body, and its fracture is brittle, homogenous, and smooth. Soft paste porcelain shows a granular fracture.

The exposed portion of the soft paste body is chalky; its upper layer can be stained with paint absorbed into the porcelain body from the painted and glazed surface. Less glittering that hard-paste porcelain, bone china has a fracture similar to that of hard paste. Its color is ivory white. Bisque is the fired ceramic ware that has not been glazed.