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Soapstone – A durable surface with a soft texture

Soapstone has been used in kitchens for thousands of years. Ancient Native Americans used it for bowls and cooking slabs. Vikings made cooking pots out of it, which they used at home and sold wherever they traveled. More recently, it is used by craftsmen to make tile, wall panels and kitchen countertops.

Similar to granite, soapstone is a natural, quarried stone. However, its consistency differs from granite in numerous ways. The geological term for this stone is steatite, and it is primarily comprised of mineral talc, which gives the stone a soft, warm feeling that the harder granite cannot boast. Softer grades, used primarily in artwork, have a higher talc content and may have a soapy feel, hence the name. The harder grades used for countertops, while not soapy do feel very soft to fingertips, giving it a very luxurious feel. Soapstone countertops offer a number of benefits:

  • Durable - You can expect your soapstone countertops to be a lifetime investment. You can enjoy them for the rest of your life unless you sell your home. In that case, they will be considered an upgrade and can enhance the selling price.
  • Conducts heat slowly – Soapstone is highly heat resistant and perfect for use in the kitchen. It is a popular material for use in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. You can set a hot pan on soapstone, and it will not burn, only begin to radiate the heat slowly outwards.
  • Malleable – It is easier to shape than many other popular stones. This makes it a better choice for spaces requiring a lot of custom cuts.
  • Maintenance Free – Oiling, the only maintenance warranted, is merely for cosmetic preference and not at all necessary for a beautiful product that will last a long time.
  • Healthy – A non-porous stone, it give no harbor to bacteria and viruses. No expensive solutions are needed to clean it. Simple soap and water will do.
  • Beyond Trend – This stone will never go out of style. It is a time-tested classic. Soapstone has been serving humans in their homes for thousands of years. There is no sign that this will ever change.

Quarried variety

Soapstone comes in shades that vary from green to light gray or black, with heavy or light veining. Many slabs contain quartz flecks which add dimension and a hint of color. The stones can vary from quarry to quarry, or even between areas of rock. Even though there isn’t much variation on the color wheel, the sheer number of soapstone quarries means that there are many different versions to choose from. Currently, quarries are being operated in most parts of the globe, with the most significant mines in the United States, Canada, Brazil, India, China, and Finland.

A Stone for all time

It is not uncommon to find soapstone kitchen and fireplace features from the 1800s still in use today. The enduring allure of this stone creates a classic look that integrates well with almost any design style. One of the most popular countertop choices of all time, soapstone will continue to be a standard in interior design as long as homeowners value classic beauty paired with maintenance free durability.