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.