Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed primarily of talc. The stone gets its name from its soft, soapy feel. This natural stone can come in a variety of talc densities. Those with higher talc densities are softer and easier to work with (ex. carve). Those with lower talc densities are harder and better suited for use in homes and businesses.
Soapstone has been around for centuries; however, it has never had the name recognition that marble and granite possess. It has a warm, rough hewn appearance that adds a touch of texture and coziness to any room.
Soapstone is available in any shade of gray. This means you can find it as light as nearly pure white or as dark as charcoal. Some pieces of soapstone will have blue or green undertones. Like all natural stones, soapstone does have movement and veining. Some pieces will be nearly solid in color whereas others will have a good deal of variation.
Keep in mind that soapstone will darken with use overtime. This is natural and nothing to be concerned about.
Soapstone has many pros including:
Soapstone is a natural material which many people believe is a “point” in the product’s favor.
It is a natural product meaning no two pieces are the same.
Since soapstone is so dense, it can easily withstand a high level of heat without being damaged.
Soapstone isn’t a porous rock which means it doesn’t stain. In addition, it can stand up to acidic materials (for example lemon juice, red wine, and cleaners). This is great if you have messy children, do a lot of cooking, or entertain on a regular basis.
Soapstone is often considered an environmentally safe choice because no chemicals (ex. sealers) are used in fabricating and maintaining it.
There are some drawbacks to soapstone including:
Low Abrasion Resistance
Soapstone is softer than many other natural stone materials meaning it is more easily scratched, dented, and nicked.
Soapstone does not have to be sealed (like granite and marble) because it is nonporous; however, as mentioned above, it will darken naturally overtime. To ensure even darkening, you will want to use mineral oil on it regularly.
Soapstone is usually quarried in smaller slabs than other stones (ex. granite) this means you are more likely to have visible seams.
Unlike some other natural stones (ex. marble) the colors to choose from with soapstone are fairly limited. If you decide to use soapstone in your home you will be limited to a gray scale.
Soapstone may not have the good PR that granite does, but it is a fine choice for use in your home. In fact, if you want a natural stone material that is able to stand up to frequent exposure to food items it may be your best option. Modern kitchens with their stainless steel appliances and glass front cabinets can have a cold or sterile feel - soapstone can add a touch of warmth and rustic-ness that softens the look and makes the room feel more homey.