Soapstone, also known as steatites, is a type of metamorphic rock that is often found in quarries in Brazil. Common colors include gray, brown, green, or blush. Surprisingly, soapstone is comprised mainly of the same material found in baby powder, talc. As a result, talc gives the soapstone it’s soft feel and soap-like texture. Other characteristics that soapstone has that makes it great for countertops includes being non-porous, heat resistant, and resistant to acids and some alkaloids.
Countertops that are non-porous are great in areas in the house that are prone to becoming dirty such as kitchens and bathrooms because it prevents bacteria and viruses from sticking around long enough to negatively affect those who often use that space. In other words, it provides a sanitary environment.
Heat resistance is another great characteristic to have in countertops, especially in the kitchen! In the instance where we have to quickly remove food from the oven or stovetop, it is reassuring to know that you have a heat-resistant countertop where scorch marks and the likes are less likely to occur.
Last but not least, messes happen and are arguably made worse when they leave a stain as they are not easy to clean. Fortunately, stains are also less likely to happen with soapstone thanks to it’s resistance to acids and some alkaloids. In other words, use as much siracha, lime juice, soy sauce, etc. as much as you want!
However, despite all these great characteristics, soapstone is not everlasting. Like with all materials, good maintenance is important in bringing out these characteristics and in prolonging its longevity.
Other fun facts about soapstone:
Mineral concentration and composition can vary depending on pressure-temperature conditions of its metamorphic environment.
The grain size and density vary, thus making softer soapstone good for sculptures and harder soapstone good for countertops
The stone has been used in the Americas early as 8,000 years ago used to make bowls and pipes and other ornaments. Scandinavians have been using soapstone to cast molds four knives and axes spearheads.
Soapstone is also used as an insulator for housing electrical components