Soapstone has recently become popular for use as countertops. It is easy to understand why: with its rich reds and greens and its resistance to heat and chemicals, soapstone is a solid choice. Traditionally, it was used largely for sculptures, chemistry labs and fireplace surrounds.
What Makes Soapstone Such A Great Choice?
Soapstone, a type of talc, has a long, rich history of use. Since the Neolithic era, it has been quarried for a number of reasons including:
- Cooking utensils
- Whiskey stones
It’s incredibly versatile, and easily incorporated into a wide range of designs. It’s been a go-to countertop material for the longest time since it has an old-world aesthetic that’s classic and it has physical properties that are quite renowned. The aesthetic can even be enhanced given a proper coating of wax or oil.
Since it’s mostly talc, soapstone is incredibly resistant to acids and chemicals. It has an absorbency of near-zero because it is a hydrophobic stone. (Simply put, it does not absorb water.) Heat is retained by soapstone, which allows it not to scorch when hot cookware makes contact. Given the near-zero porosity, it’s also a naturally sanitary surface for food preparation that does not require sealing.
Usually found in a honed finish; soapstone countertops cannot get polished to a glossy shine. This is unnatural when it comes to natural stone. It helps to afford rounded edges, alongside giving off a warm, soft glow.
Maintaining Soapstone Is Easy
Although soapstone is famous for its nonporous qualities, it is vulnerable to scratches, which can easily be removed from the surface with a little bit of warm water and a gentle cleanser. Soapstone is extremely soft. It’s a 1 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means that it can be scratched by an object as soft as a house key or even a fingernail. However, most soapstone users don’t mind this, because soapstone is prized for its looks and qualities.
Generally, small scratches in soapstone can be easily removed by rubbing them with mineral oil or sandpaper. For large scratches, a professional can help develop a more permanent solution using more aggressive techniques. Preventing them from forming in the first place can help to reduce the need for a permanent solution.
Soapstone has a naturally soft gray color. It can be made darker by applying oils, but this is not necessary. Many homeowners choose to oil the soapstone in their bathrooms, kitchens, and fireplaces to enhance the color and add smoothness to the surface. There are still quite a number of others, though, who are more into untreated soapstone’s look.
Contrary to popular belief, mineral oil that’s typically bought at grocery stores and pharmacies will work just as well. It’s important to talk to the stone supplier and fabricator alike for a better grip on the process.
When it comes to countertops, soapstone is a top choice in terms of material. Caring for them requires little maintenance, mostly a gentle cleanser, and warm water. Small scratches, on the other hand, can be removed with sandpaper or mineral oil.