Soapstone is a versatile metamorphic rock that primarily consists of talc, micas, chlorate, carbonates and amphiboles amongst other minerals. When you feel it you’ll notice that it’s soft and some varieties will actually leave talc on your skin after you’ve rubbed it with your hand.
You’ll see it in homes across the world used for a variety of purposes. You’ll find it as a surface on laboratory tables and countertops, and will see it proudly displayed on shelves as a decorative artwork masterpiece that has been carved to perfection.
It’s history dates back to thousands of years ago. Native Americans discovered this soft rock that was perfect for making cooking slabs, tools, ornaments and smoking pipes over 8000 years ago. In Scandinavia, people discovered soapstone during the Stone Age and used it as a mold for casting objects made of metal such as spearheads and knife blades.
They also discovered that it was able to absorb heat easily and then slowly radiate it, which led to the creation of cooking slabs, liners in hearths and cooking pots. Locating the raw material was easy since this type of stone was often exposed right at the Earth’s surface.
What It’s Used For
In today’s society, it is used for variety of purposes including:
- Housing or insulators for electrical components
- Molds for metal casting
- Interior surfacing of walls
- Fireplace surrounds
- Metal woodstove cladding
And much much more!
Isn’t soapstone used for carving sculptures?
Yes it is! This is an amazingly versatile stone that consists mainly of talc. The type that is used for carving is almost 100% talc and is very soft and workable. The type that is used for kitchen work surfaces and sinks has a much lower talc consistency than that used for sculpting.
A lot of consumers automatically dismiss the idea of using soapstone for a countertop or sink simply because they equate all of it with the softer variety that is used for carving. There is a big discrepancy between the softer and the harder variety. One is soft and pliable while the other is extremely dense and much stronger, making it a perfect sink, stove or table material.
Wood burning stoves
Soapstone has long been recognized for its ability to hold heat and then retain it for extended periods of time. For this reason, it is a fantastic material to use for wood burning stoves. Once the fire has died down the stove will continue to radiate heat for hours to come. It has been used for years for stove-making purposes and there are many people that rely on these stoves as a primary heat source during the cold winter months.
These types of sinks have been in existence for years as well. The main appeal is its timeless beauty. Soapstone is a wonderful alternative to the regular stainless steel sink and when combined with a complimentary counter, it’s absolutely beautiful. Since it can handle heat so well, you can feel free to put hot pots and pans right into the sink straight from the stove or oven.
If you are looking for a product that will provide uniform heating for a truly splendid meal, soapstone cookware delivers. Although it can take a little longer to heat up than other cooking pots, it heats evenly and as a result the contents inside the cookware cook uniformly. If you’ve never tried a stew that was boiled and simmered in this type of pot, you’ll need to try one soon. Once you learn how to use the pot properly, you’ll be amazed at the culinary results you can achieve.
These tiles can be used as a backsplash area behind the kitchen counter, as a tub surround or around a shower. Since it doesn’t burn it can also be used as a wall or floor covering around stoves of all sorts and around fireplaces. Many fireplace hearths are also lined with this amazing stone that can radiate heat for hours at a time.
More and more people these days are choosing soapstone kitchen countertops versus other high-end stones such as quartz, marble or granite. This stone is nature’s best gift to your kitchen in the form of a functional and it’s highly aesthetic. It resists stains, is non-porous so it does not require any sealing, can handle high heat and requires minimum maintenance. As an added bonus, any imperfections such as scratches that occur can easily be sanded out to maintain it’s beauty.
Soapstone has been and will continue to be the versatile stone that serves a number of purposes in the home. From a soft stone that can be carved into beautiful artwork to harder stone pieces that can serve as countertops, its enduring beauty with colorful veins running through it is truly one of nature’s biggest miracles.
Updated: March 2, 2017