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.
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.
Soapstone is quarried like Granite and Marble. It is a steatite stone and its primary components are magnesite, dolomite, chlorite, and talc. As talc in soapstone is soft to the touch, it gives the smooth feeling of rubbing a piece of dry soap. Thus, the name was derived – “Soap” Stone. Mineral oil and some light penetrating sealers will bring out a dark richness to the stone’s natural color and works as a protective sealing layer to the surface of the stone. Soapstone is perfect for achieving that warm “old fashioned”, “rustic”, “early American” look. It’s also versatile enough so that it can be used with very modern designs.
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 is a siliceous natural stone which consists mainly of talc and chlorite. There are two types of soapstone. The artistic soapstone which is used for carvings and sculptures contains a higher talc content. The other type of soapstone, also known as steatite, is used for architectural purposes. It is used for countertops, sinks, and vanities, just to name a few. Architectural soapstone contains a lesser amount of talc. The more talc the stone contains, the softer the stone is.
Since it is a siliceous stone, it is unaffected by acids such as wine, lemons, vinegar,etc. Special cleaners aren’t required either. Any household cleaner will do. This is a very dense stone. Soapstone weighs an average of 20 lbs. per square foot! It is a nonporous stone and will not absorb liquids and stains like other natural stones will.
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.
If you should put in a soapstone countertop, you wouldn’t want to cut on it. Soapstone is very soft. It’s so soft it can be scratched with a fingernail. Over time, the edges will soften, and you’ll start to see small nicks, scratches, and indentations. If you like the aged antique look, the patina of this natural stone might be perfect for you. It will age gradually and gracefully. If you don’t care for all the small nicks and scratches, a little mineral oil or a light sanding will smooth out the stone.
Mineral oil is also used to enhance and deepen the color. The stone color becomes more dramatic. Mineral oil also helps to darken the stone evenly and bring out the natural beauty of the stone. The use of mineral oil isn’t mandatory. Soapstone will eventually take on its own patina with time and use. It will darken with age. Usually it takes about a year to realize the full depth of color of your 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 also used for sinks, countertops, island tops, sills, flooring, and shower stalls. It’s used for mixing bowls, carvings, sculptures, benches, and planters.
Soapstone will last many lifetimes if treated with care. It will develop its own unique patina based on you and your lifestyle. It is a soft stone, softer than other natural stones. But it doesn’t burn, it isn’t porous, it won’t stain, and acids won’t etch it. Soapstone care is also minimal.
- Kitchen countertops