Soapstone is both chemical resistant and heat resistant, so you can set hot pots and pans directly on soapstone without risk of cracking or scorching. Soapstone is much softer and more prone to scratching than granite or quartz however, so preparing food directly on your soapstone counters could easily scratch it.
Soapstone has long been known for its ability to retain heat, which is why it is so commonly used in pizza ovens and masonry heaters. It is able to withstand direct flames indefinitely unlike many other stones.
Some types of mineral oil may not be food-safe because they are derived from petroleum products. They may also leave your countertops with a greasy feeling. It's also not a good idea to use any kind of harsh scrubbing product or tool on your soapstone countertops.
Soapstone, being softer than granite and marble, is also more prone to scratches. The great advantage is that any scratches can be easily removed with a light sanding and/or mineral oil. Light scratches can be hidden by lightly applying some mineral oil.
Maintenance: Soapstone doesn't stain, although it will naturally darken with use. Since soapstone is inert and non-porous, it doesn't need to be sealed, although it's sometimes treated with mineral oil to achieve a dark, even appearance.
Cleaning soapstone countertops is extremely simple, using mild soap and water. If you decide to use mineral oil on the surface, you'll want to avoid cleaners with harsh chemicals as they tend to undo that process.
Because it requires no sealing, soapstone is relatively low-maintenance. With minimum care, your new countertop can retain its good looks for many years. Enhance your counter's natural darkening progression by applying mineral oil to the surface every week or two and rubbing it in thoroughly.
Believe it or not, bleach will not harm it either. However, Bleach is not needed, since the soapstone's natural high density will not harbor bacteria of any kind. Simple soapstone and water or vinegar and water. Will work wonderfully well and clean any surface bacteria just as well as bleach or harsh cleaners.
Stains are easily cleaned by scrubbing or even sanding the stains away. However soapstone is a very soft stone and is prone to scratches. Minor scratches are easily repaired with an FDA approved food grade mineral oil or enhancer.
Unlike other mineral stones, soapstone comes in limited color options. Its typical color options are green, black, white, bluish gray, and gray. The veining of this stone is less compared to granite and marble. Its surface oxidizes when in contact with air so it darkens over time.
If moisture gets inside natural stone, it weakens the strength properties of almost all types of stone. If a stone gets wet unevenly, it can bend. Soapstone's high density prevents moisture and chemicals from entering the stone, and it is therefore not prone to the previously-mentioned problems.
Avoid using vinegar, citrus, or harsh chemical cleaners on soapstone. Cleaning products containing strong acids are a particularly big no-no. These can actually eat away at the soft stone over time, robbing it of its luster and leaving it vulnerable to serious damage like etching, pitting, or breaking.
Walnut oil is one of these. Despite increased popularity, it does not optimize the look and feel of soapstone, and it's allergenic. Additionally, do not use the common household olive oils: they will go rancid and start to smell.
When fully loaded, the new Heritage will burn for up to 8 hours, providing up to 12 hours of sustained heat.
Natural stones with high energy density and excellent thermal conductivity are soapstone (by far the best) and marble. These are perhaps the best stones for absorbing large amounts of heat quickly.
A Soapstone firebrick's special mineral properties make it ideal for lining fireplaces. Soapstone can withstand great changes in temperature without cracking. A Soapstone firebrick is so dense that it absorbs heat and then radiates slowly for hours, improving your fireplace's efficiency.
Mineral oil is recommended for coating Soapstone sinks and counter-tops.
Mineral Oil and Soapstone
These liquids cause the stone to oxidize, which darkens the stone's color and really brings out its natural beauty. To help expedite oxidation of the stone, we recommend that you treat it with mineral oil from time to time. This treatment will keep oxidation uniform across the entire surface.
Soapstone can't be damaged by any cleaners so don't worry. You can really use whatever you want. However, any cleaning solution which degreases will also remove some of the oil so the area may fade more quickly and require more frequent oiling.
Most stone dealers are aware of this problem, and only carry stone that is known to be asbestos-free. Some soapstone contains silica, which can cause silicosis when inhaled. This should likewise be avoided, but is not as serious a hazard as asbestos.
Natural soapstone colors come in a selection of hues. Typically, the color options range from a palette gray, green, black, or blue-ish gray. Additionally, there some options may have swirls of quartz and white.
Thanks to its mineral composition and nonporosity, there is no need for soapstone to be sealed to keep moisture, bacteria and food particles from penetrating its surface, as is often required for porous stones such as granite and marble.
Scratch the surface of the stone with your fingernail. Soapstone is very soft; it is assigned a rating of 2 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. This means that simply by drawing your fingernail across the surface of the stone you should be able to mark it.
Using a soft cloth, wipe on a light coat of boiled linseed oil. Tung oil or Danish oil can also be used. Do not apply heavy coats or the oil will become gummy and hard to polish. Wipe off the excess oil and allow to dry.