Are you thinking about Soap Stone counter tops?
Soapstone is a natural quarried stone that comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock, also known as “steatite”, which is comprised primarily of the minerals talc, chlorite, dolomite, and magnesite.
People are often confused by the fact that there are different types and grades of soapstone. Artistic grade soapstone contains a higher talc content, which means that it is softer and suitable for carving. When specifying Soapstone for counter tops be sure to order only architectural grade soapstone. Why? Architectural grade soapstone with a low talc content makes it suitable for counter top usage.
Because of its mineral composition and the process by which it is formed, Soapstone is very dense, non-porous, and chemically inert. Remember your old high school science lab? Soapstone has been used for decades as chemistry lab tables, because it is inert and will not be harmed by acidic materials. Nothing will stain or etch soapstone and you do not have to apply artificial sealers to protect soapstone counter tops. Other natural stones with a high talc content, such as some granites and all marbles, will stain or etch even after applications of artificial sealers. There are poultices to help lift a stain, but removing a stain completely is hard to do.
Soapstone is also a great conductor of heat and can withstand very high temperatures. You can set hot pots and pans directly on your Soapstone counter top surface, and not worry about the stone being damaged. For centuries, soapstone has been quarried and used throughout the world. Soapstone was traditionally used in colonial New England for fireplace hearths, sinks, counter tops, and wood stoves.
In addition to soapstone’s traditional uses, it is currently used for stair treads, balusters, sills, island tops and mixing bowls. Because of its unparalleled heat retention characteristics, it is the perfect choice for cookware, cook tops, oven floors, masonry heaters and fireplace liners. After soapstone is initially heated from burning wood, pellets or coal, it slowly radiates the heat evenly for hours – even after the fire is out! Soapstone can also be used for carving and sculpture.
(Next entry: removing scratches from Soapstone.)