Soapstone is growing in popularity due its durability, hygienic properties and unique silky feel — like a dry bar of your favorite soap! Uses include kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, fireplace surrounds, stoves, and stair treads. Care and maintenance is easy, but different than other types of stone. Soapstone is very dense and impervious to detergents, water, red wine, stains, oils, acids, chemicals, germs and bacteria! For this reason, soapstone is the traditional countertop material favored in chemistry labs.
Many types of soapstone are quite soft, these (greenish) varieties slowly wear down producing a slightly worn or distressed look that just adds to its unique and wonderfully vintage character. Homeowners are proud of the natural patina that is a soapstone trademark.
In the far northern-eastern states such as Vermont and New Hampshire, countless soapstone stoves and sinks manufactured in the 1800s are still in use today. Soapstone’s ability to retain and evenly radiate heat for hours makes it prized for pizza ovens, fireplaces, stoves and cooking surfaces.
As a flooring material, soapstone is well known as the “quiet stone.” Thanks to its density and softness, it is much quieter to walk upon than, for example, ceramic tile.
Soapstone ranges in color from pale green to charcoal gray and is sometimes streaked with veins of lighter gray. Soapstone has a smooth, matte finish, and is naturally immune to deterioration from acids whether strong (like hydrochloric or sulfuric acid) or mild acids like orange juice. Scratches usually vanish with light sanding or buffing, and regular oiling is often recommended. A light coat of mineral oil will renew the surface and darken the stone to a charcoal gray. As you might remember from your high school chemistry lab, the surface of soapstone can also be left natural and will darken over time.
The stone owes it’s unique silky feel to the presence of the mineral talc, a magnesium-rich mineral from which talcum power is made. Soapstone countertops are a favorite for making pastries.
In addition to being impervious to microbes, liquids and chemicals, soapstone is unaffected by heat. You can remove a hot pan from the stove and set it directly on a soapstone counter without any damage whatsoever — a big benefit where kitchen functionality is desired. The only comparable countertop material in terms of functionality is stainless steel.
Soapstone slabs are quarried and custom cut to fit your kitchen. This all-natural stone is as eco-friendly and green as it comes. No sealers or toxic chemicals are used to process soapstone and nothing needs to be done since it is naturally sealed against stains and liquids, etc. All you have to do is wipe it down with detergent and warm water to keep it clean.
A medium favored for it’s ease of carving, archeologists have found figurines, tools, dishes, bowls and cookware made of soapstone dating back thousands of years. Today, sinks, basins and shower surrounds are also made of soapstone.
Geologically, soapstone is a talc-schist, which is manufactured by heat and pressure within the earth. It is commonly formed in areas where Earth’s tectonic plates slide under one another, creating intense pressure and heat — but not enough heat to melt the rock.
If you are considering remodeling your Dallas area kitchen, and are wondering which kind of countertop material is best, we invite you to visit Jubilee’s 12,000 square foot indoor showroom where you can see and touch slabs of soapstone plus many other kinds of natural stone slabs right before your eyes.