Soapstone is a natural quarried stone made up mostly of mineral talc. This component is what gives this unique stone its soft, “soapy” feel, which is where it gets its name. Soapstone is not as hard as granite, and is a great stone to work with. It is very easy to cut, shape, and install. It has been used for many years as a excellent choice for statues/monuments because of its soft, easy to shape nature. Today it is used in many applications including countertops for kitchens, sinks, fireplace surrounds, flooring, and throughout the bathroom.
Soapstone is available in a range of shades mostly on the gray scale, however some of the colors do include blue or green undertones. Veining in the stone adds to the character and uniqueness of each slab. It can vary from a few large veins to dense small veins running throughout.
Soapstone doesn’t stain. It is a dense, nonporous stone. It also can stand contact with acidic materials and doesn’t “etch” like marble. It does darken in color when liquid pools on its surface, but will lighten back up to it’s original shade when the liquid evaporates or is cleaned up.
Soapstone can take the heat. It’s density makes it an amazing conductor of heat. It is able to withstand very high heat with no damage, so placing hot pans on its surface are not a problem.
Soapstone requires very little maintenance. Because it is nonporous, it does not need to be sealed nor does it require special cleaners/polishers. An environmentally responsible choice and naturally bacteria resistant, requiring only soap and water for everyday cleaning, gives you the peace of mind that you are protecting both the environment and your family.
Soapstone naturally darkens over time, however, applying mineral oil to its surface can help you achieve the darker look more quickly. This can also serve to highlight the veining in the stone. When first installed, you would need to apply the mineral oil as much as once a week and then gradually less often until desired color is achieved. Apply a generous amount of a food grade mineral oil to the entire surface, allow to set for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess.
The only possible maintenance issue could be its susceptibility to scratches and nicks due to its soft nature. Many people feel these are part of its character, however, if this is something that bothers you, the use of cutting boards can help protect the surface. Also, minor cuts/scratches can be removed with a quick sandpaper buffing.
OK, so what is this beautiful stone, that can pretty much do it all, going to cost you? Great news, Soapstone is very comparable to other natural stone choices. It would fall as about a mid level granite choice when comparing prices.
So now, what’s not to love?