Soapstone Cleaning, Protection and Sealing
Soapstone, also known as steatite, is a metamorphic rock. It is largely composed of the mineral talc and is rich in magnesium. It tends to be a very soft rock.There are two different kinds of stone, popularly called soapstone: Talc, which is a softer stone, used for carvings, and Steatite, which is harder than Talc, used for countertops, sinks, lab benches, fireplaces, ovens etc. Should never be cleaned at pressures above 800 PSI.
Steatite is relatively soft (because of the high talc content, talc being one on Mohs hardness scale), and may feel soapy when touched, hence the name. Soapstone is used for inlaid designs, sculpture, coasters, and kitchen countertops and sinks.
Soapstone is sometimes used for fireplace surrounds and woodstoves because it can absorb and evenly distribute heat while being easy to manufacture. Generally, suppliers of soapstone counter tops recommend the use of mineral oil to enhance the color of soapstone. It takes many applications over a long period of time to get to an acceptable difference in the color. Soapstone naturally forms a patina over time.
Soapstone is an excellent alternative natural stone to use in place of granite or marble. Soapstone won't burn or stain and requires very little maintenance. True soapstone is inert. Alkalis and acids won't affect it as they will a granite, marble, or slate. For decades, soapstone has been used extensively in laboratories and science classrooms for sinks, flooring, and work surfaces. Its durable and dense composition make it ideal for these applications.
Though soapstone is soft to the touch it is far from absorbant. If the surface picks up a stain or discolors, this is literally just on the surface and can be scrubbed or sanded off. Slates, marbles, most granites, limestones and travertines are absorbant. Soapstone is not.
Spilled wine or virtually anything else will not penetrate and stain the stone on the inside. It can and may leave a darkened area or superficial surface stain. However, these marks can be scrubbed off the stone or sanded off as they can't penetrate the soapstone below the very surface. Some people opt never to apply anything to the stone, as it will soon begin to take on it's own natural patina with regular use.
A frequent source of stains on soapstone countertops are thin, dark liquids, such as wines and sauces. Red wine and barbecue sauce are common culprits. Vinegar and other acidic materials can also stain your countertop, especially since the mineral oil regularly applied over the countertop can react with these acids. Basic Soapstone maintenance involves sanding down scratches and using mineral oil to even out the variations after sanding.
Should be sealed with a penetrating sealer to prevent staining and reduce soiling. Should only be cleaned with neutral pH detergents. Because it is soft, it should never be cleaned at pressures above 800 PSI and then only if the grout is in good condition.
DO's and DON'Ts of Soapstone:
Care & Maintenance of Soapstone:
Soapstone countertops look great in the store or online but they are not a good option! Soapstone is a natural stone and will vary in density.
A soapstone counter top is velvety smooth, like marble and shares a color palette similar to travertine only with less pattern variation.
We recommend that you use care and maintenance products from StoneTech™ Professional that are specially formulated to protect and enhance the beauty of your granite. Once the stone is sealed, clean up is usually easy. We recommend that you use StoneTech™ Professional Revitalizer™ Cleaner & Protector. Revitalizer™ cleans with a gentle, pH-neutral formula that removes soils while reinforcing the original protective seal to help prevent future staining.
Removal of oily stains is easily accomplished with StoneTech™ Professional Oil and Stain Remover.
Fluorochemical technology, incorporated into StoneTech™ Professional BulletProof™ and StoneTech™ Professional Impregnator Pro, is the most advanced technology available, providing the ultimate shield against both water and oil-base stains. The micro-molecular formula actually bonds with the stone surface to deliver unsurpassed wear resistance and durability. And because the sealer reacts with the stone, you no longer have to worry about its porosity.
Soapstone Maintenance and Sealing Products:
Additional Stone Care Information: