Soapstone has been used for centuries in our homes. It’s also the countertop of choice in our science labs. This is a simple and subtle stone which conveys grounding and harmony. It truly emits old world charm.
Soapstone is soft and warm to the touch. It’s smooth, slippery, and silky. It is a traditional and old-fashioned natural stone. The look is warm and inviting. Charming, rustic, and rich looking yet versatile enough to fit comfortably within the modern home.
Soapstone/ Natural Stone
Soapstone counters are made from quarried natural stone. The mineral in soapstone is steatite that includes chlorite, magnesite and dolomite. Most also contains quite a bit of talc which accounts for the milky or powdery look and feel of the stone. Slabs with lots of talc has been used by sculptors through the ages for its softness. Steatite with less talc is hard enough for use in countertops and fireplace surrounds.
The presence of talc produces a material that is softer to the touch than most natural stone countertop materials. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t stand up to the demands of the kitchen. Here’s a look at soapstone countertop pros and cons.
The Beauty of Soapstone
If you’re looking for a natural stone with an amazing amount of warmth, this is it. That’s one of the reasons that soapstone countertops are a favorite in country kitchens, though they can be included in styles from traditional to modern to eclectic. They offer outstanding design versatility.
The colors of soapstone are rich and beautiful. They convey calmness. From ash gray to smoky blue grays to a rich charcoal black. Some stones have flecks of green and blue and contrasting veins twisting throughout the stone.
The Durability of Soapstone
While not as hard as granite, this material is more pliable. That means it is less brittle, so it won’t crack unexpectedly from stress or weight. In addition, soapstone is very non-porous, another important strength that sets it apart from granite, sandstone and marble. It doesn’t require the sealing that those materials do, and it is far less likely to stain when wine or oil are spilled onto it.
Because the stone is fairly soft, avoid cutting directly on it. Be careful not to drop heavy glass objects or cast-iron pans on it. The softer nature of soapstone makes it nice to the touch but also represents its one main weakness.
Soapstone is Heat Resistant
It is also heat resistant. Setting a hot pot of noodles on your soapstone countertop won’t scorch it or burn it. In fact, some cookware is made of soapstone.
Soapstone is best known for its heat retention. It is used extensively for fireplace hearths, wood stoves, masonry fireplaces, fireplace liners, and pizza ovens. It’s
Soapstone is Easy to Clean and Maintain
Because it is non-porous, it cleans up with mild soap and a sponge or dish rag. This is a very sanitary countertop, and a good choice for those who enjoy cooking with fresh fruits, vegetables and meats that are sometimes associated with e-coli bacteria.
It is an easy countertop to maintain by homeowners. Gently sand the occasional scratch and reseal with Mineral Oil.
The primary care that soapstone requires is a periodic oiling that keeps it looking its best and produces a natural patina as the years go by. In other words, it is done for aesthetic rather than performance reasons.
Frequently Asked Questions
QUESTION: What is soapstone?
ANSWER: Soapstone is a metamorphic rock, which comes in varying degrees of hardness. It is composed of talc, magnesium silicate, and chlorite.
QUESTION: Where does soapstone come from?
ANSWER: Soapstone is quarried from Brazil, India, Finland, Switzerland, and the USA. Brazil is the #1 producer of soapstone.
QUESTION: Are there different kinds of soapstone?
ANSWER: Soapstone varies in color, hardness, and purity. It’s a darker natural stone and comes in shades of grayish to green to blues, and charcoal gray. Random markings include white veining, shades of green, amber or beige in the shape of veins or other formations.
Depending on the talc content soapstone comes in two varieties:
- Artistic soapstone has high talc content, is very soft, and is used for carvings, chalks, and welder’s pencils.
- Architectural soapstone has lower talc content and is used for sinks, soapstone countertops, floors, and other architectural items.
QUESTION : What is soapstone used for?
ANSWER: Backsplashes, bathroom vanities, bathtubs, benches, bowls, cooking pots, countertops, fireplaces, fireplace fireboxes, fireplace surrounds, floors, furnaces, lintels, pizza stones, planters, sculptures, shower stalls, sinks, table tops, and window sills. If you can imagine it, you can probably use soapstone.
QUESTION: Is soapstone durable?
ANSWER: A soapstone countertop will last many lifetimes. It is a dense natural stone, which allows nothing to penetrate it, not even bacteria. It is impossible to stain and unaffected by heat.
QUESTION: How does soapstone wear? I have heard that it is a soft stone.
ANSWER: Yes. Soapstone is a soft stone. The edges will soften, and your soapstone countertops will accumulate some nicks, scratches, and dents. The scratches can be removed with a light sanding. Otherwise, these little nicks and scratches become part of the patina.
QUESTION: Does soapstone scratch?
ANSWER: Yes. The beauty of soapstone is that it can easily be repaired by the homeowner.
QUESTION: How do you repair scratches on soapstone?
ANSWER: A simple wipe with mineral oil and the small scratches are gone. For deeper scratches, a light sanding followed by mineral oil will remove any scratches.
QUESTION: Why is it recommended to apply mineral oil to soapstone?
ANSWER: To avoid inconsistent color or tone. Soapstone oxidizes (turns dark) when it is exposed to water, grease, and oils. Treating your soapstone with mineral oil will keep the oxidation uniform across the entire surface. Mineral oil will also bring out the richness of your stone’s natural color, making the color deeper and more dramatic
QUESTION: How do I apply minerals oil?
ANSWER: Use a soft, clean cloth. Apply the mineral oil to your entire counter and then wipe up any excess oil with a soft clean cloth.
QUESTION: How often do I apply mineral oil?
- Immediately after it is installed.
- After your initial application, apply once a week for the first 6 months.
- Then, once a month for the first year. Thereafter, it’s totally up to you. Just apply as needed to keep your stone looking new
QUESTION: Will applying too much mineral oil damage my soapstone top?
QUESTION: What shall I use to clean my soapstone surface?
ANSWER: Any household cleaner and a damp cloth or sponge.
Soapstone countertops impart incredible warmth and tranquility to your home. If treated with care soapstone will last many lifetimes. It will develop its own unique patina based on you and your lifestyle.