Soapstone | K&D Countertops | Maine | New Hampshire
How Soapstone Is Formed
Soapstone, a darker natural stone of charcoal gray in various shades, including greens and blues, is a metamorphic rock formed by dynamothermal metamorphism and metasomatism. When tectonic plates are subducted, heat, pressure, and fluids change the stone without melting it. This process is how soapstone gets its soft, smooth feel, almost like a bar of soap, hence its name.
A Little Bit of History About Soapstone
The history of soapstone is a testament to its longevity. It has been used throughout the world for thousands of years for a range of purposes. North American natives used soapstone for bowls, spear points, and various tools. Inuit people used soapstone for sculptures. In fact, they still do. Farmhouse box sinks and fireplaces were made with soapstone in Colonial times, and today it is a popular choice for countertops and tabletops. The practical qualities of soapstone are evidenced in its continued popularity and widespread use in art, architecture, and interior design.
Soapstone in Art, Architecture, and Design
Soapstone used for art is softer, because it contains more talc and can actually be carved with a fingernail. Soapstone used for home décor and architecture is much harder, because it has lower talc content. Because soapstone can absorb, store and radiate heat, it is best utilized on countertops or tabletops and fireplaces or wood burning stoves. You can place hot pots or pans on soapstone without having to worry about scorching or burning the surface. Soapstone fireplaces and wood burning stoves are less intensively radiant their cast iron or steel cousins, making them an environmentally friendly option that requires less energy because heat is retained longer and more evenly.
Pros and Cons
Unlike granite, marble, or slate, alkalis and acids found in many foods and drinks are not likely to stain the dense and inert surface of soapstone. Soapstone does not need to be sealed because it is not a porous stone. Any staining that occurs can be quickly and easily remedied with scrubbing or sanding.
Soapstone is more prone to nicks and scratches than other natural stone. It has a worn patina that might irritate a perfectionist. Its color loses consistency with time and use. After installation, using mineral oils is optional, depending on what kind of long-term look you hope to achieve. The oil does not protect soapstone, but it does help give the soapstone a more even appearance. Some people prefer a naturally aged appearance in which more frequently used areas become darker than other areas. If a sealer or oil has already been applied, the original color of soapstone can be restored.
Soapstone is versatile enough to enhance a warm, rustic décor or sleek modern designs.