Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed of several minerals including magnesite, dolomite, cholrite, and talc. Soapstone, a soft stone, is ideal for sculpting, and it has many commercial applications.
Soapstone’s softness makes it ideal for shaping and carving.
Containing large amounts of talc, the softest mineral on earth, soapstone is an ideal medium for stone carving. Many cultures throughout history have used soapstone in the creation of art, as well as jewelry, tools and utensils. The stone’s softness makes it easy to work with, requiring little effort to shape and carve.
Soapstone in Architecture
Soapstone has many versatile uses in architecture, and is most commonly used for fireplace hearths, sinks, countertops, and tiles. It can also be used for window sills, stair treads and balusters. Despite its softness, soapstone is very dense, which makes it durable and long lasting.
A Natural Heater
Soapstone has remarkable and natural heat-retention capabilities that make it ideal to use in masonry heaters, wood stoves, and fireplace liners. It is capable of absorbing large amounts of heat and slowly releasing it over long periods of time, even after the heat source has cooled.
Soapstone’s excellent heat absorption and durability makes it a popular material to use in kitchen countertops, sinks, and even science classrooms. It does not react to alkalis and acids, and its impenetrable surface does not stain like granites and marbles.
Regular mining can lead to environmental imacts.
A naturally quarried stone, soapstone can be obtained using wire, sand and water to extract blocks from the quarry. The popularity of soapstone for commercial uses has led to a soapstone boom. While mining for soapstone can help local communities, there are environmental impacts. Regular mining can lead to land degradation, deforestation, air pollution and soil contamination, surface and ground water pollution and deterioration of natural drainage systems.
By Sabrina Ehlert, eHow Contributor