Soapstone FAQ's

What is soapstone?

Technically called steatite by geologists, Soapstone is a very dense variety of talc, formed from the composition of talc and other various minerals during rock metamorphosis. Soapstone is generally grey/green in color, with varying degrees of white veins and talc. Soapstone is best known for having a “soapy” feel, hence the name. The surface of Soapstone is most commonly sold with a honed finish, which is smooth, like a polish, but is not reflective. Other finishes are also available, such as a leathered finish that you commonly see with granite. Traditionally, Soapstone is treated with mineral oil to enrich the color. A periodic application of mineral oil is the only maintenance that is recommended, but not required. Over time Soapstone develops a patina which gives it a rich, antique character that many people love.

Where does soapstone come from?

To obtain large slabs of architectural grade Soapstone slabs, all of our Soapstone is imported from Brazil. Although Soapstone can be found in various areas including the East coast of the US and India. Many people are misinformed when it comes to what areas Soapstone can be quarried for architectural use. There are many different grades of Soapstone and we can guarantee that here at Sierra Soapstone, we carry only the most durable products.

Is there any special maintenance required for soapstone?

No. There is no special maintenance required for soapstone countertops. Most of our customers choose to apply mineral oil to the surface of their soapstone countertops, but it is not necessary for the maintenance of soapstone countertops. Mineral oil can be applied to the surface only to darken the stone and enhance soapstone's natural beauty. Soapstone appears naturally as a light grey, chalky looking surface. When mineral oil is applied to the soapstone, the color will darken to a deep charcoals or black. For some varieties of soapstone, the veining will really come to life. The mineral oil is not sealing the soapstone or protecting the soapstone, but merely darkening the soapstone.

See our soapstone maintenance page for more information.

What happens if you do not oil soapstone?

Nothing negative will happen to your soapstone if you choose not to apply mineral oil or if you forget to apply mineral oil. Soapstone naturally darkens over time on its own. You will notice the soapstone darkening faster around the high use areas, such as the sink, stovetop, and prep areas. If you initially leave your counters un-oiled and months later you want to oil them, that is fine. You do not have to commit to oiling soapstone the day it is installed. You can remove oil from the surface with rubbing alcohol or acetone if you have an accidental oil spill on an un-oiled counter without any negative effects.

How do you clean soapstone?

We recommend using mild soap and water to clean your soapstone countertops. Because soapstone is dense and non-porous, it is very germ and bacteria resistant. Soapstone is naturally a clean surface.

You can use any common household cleaners on your soapstone counters. You do not have to worry about staying away from ammonia based cleaners, like you would with granite and marble.

See our soapstone maintenance page for more information.

Can you set hot objects directly on a soapstone surface?

Yes. Setting hot pots or pans directly on your soapstone counters will not affect the surface. In Europe, soapstone is used primarily for the manufacturing of masonry heaters and wood burning stoves. Setting hot objects on your counters will not crack, discolor, or harm the soapstone.

Do you need to seal soapstone?

No. Sealers are used on stones that are porous or will etch. Soapstone is not porous and it will not etch, thus a seal is not necessary.

Can you scratch soapstone?

Soapstone is a very durable and proven countertop material, but it can be scratched. However, since soapstone does not have an artificial sealant, scratches can be buffed out with standard sand paper. Often what appears to be a scratch is actually the mineral oil evaporating form the surface. Usually the blemish can be removed just by re-applying mineral oil to the area. Many of our customers like the patina that develops over time with their natural soapstone countertops.

See our soapstone maintenance page for more information.