Soapstone is only about 400 million years old and has been in use well over a thousand years. Soapstone is a rock of the metamorphic process a result of intense heat and pressure and time. It has a couple of names such as Soap rock or Steatite and consists mainly of talc, magnesium, dolomite, chlorite and silicates. Soapstone will have varying amounts of talc which gives it the soapy feel. High talc which is excellent for carving and sculpting and low to medium amounts of talc will make an excellent choice for countertops, sinks, hearths etc. The products and uses of soapstone seem to be endless, Soapstone is also resistant to any heat we can produce making it a great choice for fireplace bricks, woodstoves even cookware.
Over time soapstone will develop a patina and hue that is attractive and warm and can be brought back to a grey hue with a little light sanding if so desired with a 220 grit paper no matter how old the stone is or what its purpose was. Typically mineral oil is applied to darken and highlight the characteristics of the stone. The mineral oil does not protect the stone, and also there is no need to protect it, but just simply enhancing the veins and color of the stone. There is also wax available some with two or three waxes blended together or just a simple butchers wax/oil mixture will lay very nicely on soapstone eliminating the need to oil less frequently .The most attractive characteristic of soapstone is it’s inability to absorb “and absorb”, what I mean by “and absorb” is take a frozen piece of meat out of the freezer and place it on the stone, depending on it’s weight will be thawed in 30 to 50 minutes without having to use a microwave. It absorbs the cold and vise versa for heat! It also has an inability to absorb, acids and alkalis that will not penetrate soapstone like many other stones. It will not stain or hold bacteria,. However soapstone can scratch if struck hard enough the ability to scratch it also comes the ability to fix it easily by practically any one. Light grit sandpaper and mineral oil. Over time it gives a worn weathered look worthy of an active home.