Soapstone is a quarried natural stone that is primarily composed of the mineral talc. Soapstone is relatively soft compared to other countertop products. Pure soapstone has a value of 1 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, where granite and quartz are around 6-7 and diamonds are 10. This scale is a measure of a mineral’s ability to resist being scratched. Higher valued minerals will scratch lower value minerals on the scale. Unglazed plates and knives (5.5), keys, pots and pans, and even your fingernail (Mohs 2.5) will scratch soapstone countertops. This is not to dissuade you from buying soapstone countertops for your kitchen; just be very clear about what to expect. If you like the classic and timeless look of soapstone, but feel you could not appreciate its patina, we will work with you to find a honed (matte finish) granite that will give you a similar look without the patina.
Soapstone is an elegant and sophisticated choice for interior-design elements including kitchen countertops. Although Soapstone is “soft”, it does not absorb water, making it ideal for many residential applications. Soapstone even performs well outdoors. Soapstone countertops are ideal for an outdoor kitchen or BBQ area because they possess excellent thermal qualities and will not crack when exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
How do you clean and maintain soapstone counters?
Soapstone is a low maintenance stone once you realize that a patina is to be appreciated and not something negative. Soapstone is naturally bacteria resistant due to its non-porous quality so simple soap and water cleaning is all that’s recommended. If desired, small scratches, chips, and nicks generally can be lessened with quick buffing using fine grit sandpaper. Attempt this at your own risk. Most of our customers who choose soapstone actually prefer the look of their soapstone countertops after daily use has given the stone its patina.
Do you have to apply oil to soapstone?
Not at all. There are 3 general ways to “finish” soapstone; Oiling, Dry Waxing, or leaving it natural(untreated). Applying mineral oil to soapstone has been and continues to be a popular finish. Dry waxing results in a similar rich look without the temporary “oily” feel to the surface. Many clients prefer leaving soapstone untreated. This gives a more rustic and natural look to the stone. Soapstone can always be oiled or waxed later on if the untreated results are not desirable.