Terracotta, terra cotta or terra-cotta (pronounced "baked earth", from the Latin terra cocta), a type of earthenware, is a clay-based unglazed or glazed ceramic, where the fired body is porous.
Terracotta is the term normally used for sculpture made in earthenware, and also for various practical uses including vessels (notably flower pots), water and waste water pipes, roofing tiles, bricks, and surface embellishment in building construction. The term is also used to refer to the natural brownish orange color of most terracotta, which varies considerably.
An appropriate refined clay is formed to the desired shape. After drying it is placed in a kiln or atop combustible material in a pit, and then fired. The typical firing temperature is around 1,000 °C, though it may be as low as 600 °C in historic and archaeological examples. The iron content, reacting with oxygen during firing, gives the fired body a reddish color, though the overall color varies widely across shades of yellow, orange, buff, red, "terracotta", pink, grey or brown.
Fired terracotta is not watertight, but surface-burnishing the body before firing can decrease its porousness and a layer of glaze can make it watertight. It is suitable for use below ground to carry pressurized water (an archaic use), for garden pots or building decoration in many environments, and for oil containers, oil lamps, or ovens. Most other uses, such as for tableware, sanitary piping, or building decoration in freezing environments, require the material to be glazed. Terracotta, if uncracked, will ring if lightly struck.
Terracotta is a natural material that breads, slowly releases humidity and gives an natural isolation. This is why roots and plants thrive in terracotta pots.