Soapstone

77614_107795829292356_5218313_oSoapstone is one of the lowest maintenance options for natural stones.  Softer than granite, it is nonetheless more pliable, making it less likely to crack.  It is also typically possible to sand out the scratches and dents this stone may receive over its working lifetime.  Soapstone is an excellent conductor of heat, undamaged by hot pans and fireplace applications.  Equally important, soapstone is largely impervious to spills of all kinds, to the point it is a fixture in chemistry labs.  Soapstone results in a clean working surface, and shrugs off spills in indoor or outdoor applications.

For this reason soapstone does not require any sort of sealing or treatment.  However, the application of mineral oil can be used to uniformly darken the surface, highlighting veins and bringing out the color of a piece.  This is merely an aesthetic decision, as the working quality of the stone will remain unaffected.  If mineral oil is not used, soapstone will gradually develop patterns of its own to reflect how it is used.

Soapstone is typically priced in the range of high end granite, but unlike granite, the stone’s softness allows it to be shaped and detailed for ornamentation or useful elements such as drainage grooves.  Soapstone comes in a limited range of colors compared to many other natural stones, available in light greens and greys or darker shades with a regular mineral oil application, but it remains a popular choice thanks to its incredible chemical resilience and versatility.