Soapstone is a metamorphic rock and is largely composed of the mineral talc. Talc is what gives soapstone its signature feel (soft like a dry bar of soap). The more talc in the stone, the softer it is. These amounts can range from 80% talc in artistic grade soapstone, used for carving, to 30% in architectural grade, which is the type used for countertops.
Countertop grade soapstone is usually between 3 and 4 on the MOHS hardness scale, which means you could make a scratch by using a penny (but you would have to press down hard). Soapstone counters will not scratch with normal use, say by sliding a frying pan across the surface.
Soapstone is naturally a heat conductor. That is why it was historically used for pots, pans, and then stoves. You can place your hot pans and pots directly on the surface with no risk.
To clean your soapstone: Soap and water will do the trick. Because of its extreme density, soapstone is naturally resistant to bacteria and germs. Use a bit of mild, pH balanced, clear dish soap when you want a bit heavier clean than just water. Do not use any acidic or heavy duty cleaners on your natural stone.
Soapstone is not porous like granite, marble, and quartzite, so it does not need to be sealed and it cannot be stained. Many homeowners like to oil or wax their soapstone once or twice a year. This keeps the color more vibrant and preserves that “like new” look. This is an optional treatment. If you don’t treat your soapstone, it will develop a patina over the years. Many enjoy that patina, but if you have left your counters untreated you can always start oiling or waxing them later (and vice versa). You can buy high quality soapstone mineral oil and wax from Green Mountain Soapstone.
If you cut directly on your counters with a knife using medium pressure, you may see a little white “scratch.” That can usually just be wiped away with your hand or a bit of mineral oil. If you really cut hard with that knife, or accidentally drop something heavy onto the stone, you may get a nick or scratch that won’t go away with a bit of mineral oil. In that case, get three sandpaper pads (always available at places like Home Depot) at 60, 100, and 220 grit. Lightly sand the spot in a circular motion with each three, starting with the lowest. Then wipe off any dust and use mineral oil (or water if your top are un-oiled) to restore the color. It’s that easy.
If you liked this article, you will also enjoy:
- New Soapstone Inventory (July 2015)
- Time Tested Soapstone & White Carrara Marble in a Historic Home
- Soapstone: Everything You Wanted to Know About This Amazing Stone
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