Kaolin is used in ceramics, medicine, coated paper, as a food additive, in toothpaste, as a light diffusing material in white incandescent light bulbs, and in cosmetics. It is generally the main component in porcelain.

It is also used in paint to extend titanium dioxide (TiO2) and modify gloss levels; in rubber for semi-reinforcing properties; and in adhesives to modify rheology.[8]

Kaolin was also used in the production of common pipes for centuries in Europe and Asia. The practice of making and using kaolin pipes was brought to the colonies and reproduced once adequate sources of kaolin were discovered. (These distinctive pipes with unusually long stems when new are seen regularly in Renaissance paintings of apr├Ęs-hunt scenes or portraits of people relaxing with a kaolin pipe in one hand and the white stem stretching across the canvas.) The plain, long-stemmed, slender, small-bowled pipes were typically stored on the mantle. A member of the household would break off a 2 cm piece of the stem to provide a “fresh” mouthpiece before filling and lighting. (As a sign of hospitality, hosts would offer guests his/her own pipe from the mantle and break off the mouthpiece for them, ensuring a completely fresh pipe.) Though most pipes were undecorated, a few had monograms or coats of arms either embossed onto or pressed into the wet paste before firing. Some were even pressed into molds of human or animal heads. Archaeologists have been using kaolin pipes to date sites for decades now ever since the inverse relationship between time and bore diameter was confirmed. As ceramic technology improved through time, the diameter of the hole in the stem leading to the bowl decreased. The change has been found to be so constant and measurable as to allow dating of sites to specific decades.[9] Kaolin pipes grew to be obsolete when paper began to be used to roll tobacco into cigarettes.

The largest use is in the production of paper, including ensuring the gloss on some grades of paper. Commercial grades of kaolin are supplied and transported as dry powder, semi-dry noodle