What is Soapstone?
• Soapstone is a metamorphic rock.
• This natural quarried stone is softer than most other naturally occurring minerals.
• Although soft, soapstone is a very dense (non-porous) stone: more so than, marble, slate, limestone, and even granite! Since soapstone is impenetrable, it will not stain, no liquid will permeate its surface. Other stones, including granite, have a propensity to soil/stain; this is why soapstone is widely used in chemistry lab-tops and acid rooms.
• Soapstone darkens (ages) over time. This a natural process that the stone goes through and should be expected. There is no way to determine how dark a particular piece of soapstone will get over time.
• Most soapstone has a honed finish but can be available in leather/brushed and polished finishes.
• Soapstone is virtually heat proof. For this reason, soapstone is used in masonry heaters, oven interiors, pizza stones, and numerous related applications. Although it is heat proof, we always recommend the use of a trivot or pot holder when taking items out of/off of the oven/cooktop/stove to avoid extreme temperature changes. A rapid change in temperature can cause cracking.
Cleaning the Countertops:
Any common household cleaner can be used to clean soapstone counters. Chemicals and acids do not harm it. However, we do recommend that you use regular soap and water because harsher solvents may remove the mineral oil treatment , therefore generating more maintenance. Soapstone, being softer than granite and marble, is prone to scratches. The great advantage is that most scratches can be easily removed with mineral oil. For deeper scratches a stone technician can “sand or buff” out scratches.
The only maintenance required for soapstone, is the application of mineral oil. This will enhance the natural darkening process the stone goes through. Once the mineral oil is applied, the stone will darken. Depending on the color soapstone that you purchase it can turn to a dark charcoal color, an emerald green color, and /or enhance the veining in the piece. If you are not sure how your stone will look when it has darkened ask us and we will apply some water to the slab. This will briefly let you see approximate effect that oil will have on the appearance of the stone. You may choose not to oil your countertops but keep in mind that oiling the tops helps speed the naturally aging process. If not oiled, some parts of your countertops may darken faster than other parts, leaving “blotches”. There is no need to use a stone sealer on your soapstone countertops. As mentioned, soapstone is very dense and a sealer will not penetrate deep enough to be effective.
Oiling the Countertops:
We recommend oiling your countertops to ensure that the stone will darken evenly. The oil is not sealing or protecting the stone, it is only speeding up the natural darkening process.
There isn’t a set rule of how often you should oil the countertops. Oiling too little or too much will not damage the stone in any way. We do not oil the countertops before/at installation so we do recommend that you oil the stone after installation. Once you oil the countertops for the first time you will see the stone will become much darker. A few days after the first oiling, most soapstone will lighten back up. You can retreat your countertops each time this happens.
The soapstone will take approximately 3 coats of mineral oil to reach its final color, getting darker after every oiling. Every time you oil the countertops , the stone will hold the oil longer than the last time, until about the 6th or 8th month the stone will stay permanently dark.
You can oil countertops any way you like, you can spread the oil on the counters and then rub it in with a rag or you put the oil on the rag and oil the counters. To make future oil applications easier , keep the same rag in a zip lock
bag, you will see that the rag will soak in the oil making it easier to spread on the countertops. Immediately after you’ve oiled the soapstone, you can remove all the excess, until the countertops don’t feel slick. There is no such thing as “let the oil soak in”, remember, soapstone is impermeable, nothing penetrates the surface.