What is Melamine?

If you’re learning how to set a table and you’re in the market for new dinnerware, you have a heaping platterful of materials to choose from. There are the classics, such as steadfast favorites like ceramic. Then there are the lesser-known, but equally breathtaking options to consider serving your culinary creations on—such as melamine.

Melamine is a brilliant and sturdy material, but it’s not uncommon to wonder what it’s really made from. If you’re curious about this dazzlingly durable dinnerware option, pull up a seat at the table and get comfortable. In this article, we’re answering the question that will be on everyone’s mind once they see your delightful new dishes: what is melamine?

What is Melamine: A Multi-Use Material

Melamine is a chemical that goes by many different monikers (with over 100 recognized scientific and branded names worldwide). Whatever you decide to call it, however, this magical material has as many uses as it does nicknames.

Melamine resin is a synthesized material used in the production of a variety of household and industrial goods, including:

  • Various plastics
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Food packaging
  • Industrial coatings
  • Wood grain/wood veneer 
While one could spend a multi-course meal (and dessert) discussing melamine’s multiple uses, its presence in tableware is what’s most important to us.

We know what you’re thinking: how can one material be used to make both paper and plates (without being a paper plate)? Is it magic? 

No, it’s simply the science of contemporary manufacturing.

How Melamine Tableware is Produced

Melamine itself is a white, powdery substance akin to salt or flour once it makes its way out of the lab. While it may be the namesake of the kitchenware it goes into, melamine is merely one ingredient needed to craft dishes that endure.

To make melamine tableware and melamine dishware, manufacturers:

  1. Mix melamine powder with other materials (mostly plastics) to create a compound for molding.
  2. Press the melamine compound into the bottom of a heated mold.
  3. Lower the top half of the mold onto the compound with extreme force until it forges the melamine plates into the desired shape.
  4. Embellish the piece with a design by overlaying it with a paper pattern and sprinkling glazing powder atop.
  5. Compress it into the mold one more time until the material fully sets and the glaze hardens.
  6. Trim off any excess paper or bits of melamine resin, inspect the piece for imperfections and ship it off to the market.

The process is fairly standard for the production of melamine dishes, but the results are anything but ordinary.

The Many Benefits of Melamine Dinnerware

Now you know how melamine is made—so, why should you consider setting the table with melamine dinnerware? The range of attractive attributes melamine dishes comes with makes it an ideal option for everyday use and special occasions alike:

  • It’s safe to eat from  If food safety is your concern, worry not; even a lifetime of dining off properly produced melamine plates will cause no harm. The Food and Drug Administration reports that melamine contamination or melamine poisoning is not something one should worry about, as long you’re not ingesting the plate (or pieces of it) itself.
  • It’s dishwasher safe – Melamine dinnerware offers another advantage when it’s time to clean up: you can safely wash them in your dishwasher. One small caveat about melamine tableware, however, is that you should never place it in the microwave,. or for that matter, the oven. While melamine wares can withstand the heat inside a dishwasher, it is not recommended to expose them to extreme temperatures.
  • It’s incredibly durable – Melamine is one of the most durable materials used in crafting kitchenware. Melamine plates are shatterproof, scratch-resistant, and incredibly long-lasting. When you purchase a premium melamine dish set for your home, you can be sure it will accompany you during busy breakfasts, lackadaisical lunches, and divine dinners for years to come. 
  • It comes in many stunning and artisanal designs – As part of the manufacturing process described above, melamine resin lends itself to an endless range of unique designs like those you might see in china patterns. Through the molding process, melamine plastic can even be shaped into interesting organic designs, not unlike ceramics.
  • Lightweight – While melamine dinnerware can come in varying weights, most are delightfully lightweight—especially when compared with ceramic or glass. This can be especially advantageous if you’re looking for a chic option for dining outdoors or simply want a lighter set for your daily meals.

Dine on Magnificent Melamine Dinnerware from Lenox

Melamine is not only durable and dazzling but, pound for pound, it’s an exceptional bang for your buck—especially considering its longevity.

Lenox supplies top-of-the-line, quality melamine dishes that are a cut above the industry standard. With over 130 years in business, it’s no surprise that customers choose breathtaking pieces from Lenox time and time again.

From the classic to the modern to the ethereally timeless, we have a melamine dishe to suit everyone’s individual aesthetic. If you’re looking for a modern dish set that’s as refined and breathtaking as the scrumptious meals you place atop it, choose Lenox.





National Library of Medicine. Melamine. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Government of Pakistan Ministry of Industries and Production. Melamine Tableware Manufacturing Unit. https://www.commerce.gov.pk/
United States Food and Drug Administration. Melamine in Tableware Questions and Answers. https://www.fda.gov/