Soapstone Facts

Soapstone Facts
Soapstone is a type of metamorphic rock that is mostly composed of the mineral talc. Its name came from its "soapy" feel and soft texture. Soapstone is commonly gray, brown, green or bluish in color. This soft rock has been used for thousands of years and it is still a material of choice used in many ways today throughout the world.
Interesting Soapstone Facts:
Soapstone is primarily composed of talc. It shares many physical properties with that mineral and make it valuable for many different uses. It is non-porous, heat resistant, non-absorbent, soft and easy to carve, high specific heat capacity and resistant to acids and alkalis.
The mineral composition in this rock can vary. It depends upon the parent rock material and pressure/temperature conditions of its metamorphic environment.
The grain size is determined by the level of metamorphism. There are harder varieties that are more durable that are used for making countertops and there are some with a fine grain size that is desirable for high detailed carvings.
As early as 8,000 years ago, Native Americans used the rock to make carved sculptures and cooking bowls. In the Late Archaic Period, Native Americans from North America made bowls, smoking pipes, cooking slabs and ornaments.
During the Stone Age, people of Scandinavia used soapstone carved molds to cast metal objects such as knife blades and spearheads. They discovered they were able to heat soapstone and then radiate it slowly. This lead to them making cooking pots, bowls, hearth liners and cooking slabs out of soapstone.
The famous statue that overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro, "Christ the Redeemer", is made of concrete and faced with soapstone. It weighs 635 metric tons and stands at 120 feet tall. The statue was created between 1922 - 1931. It has become a cultural icon.
During the Revolutionary War era, the military made bullet molds out of soapstone because it was easily carved and heat resistant.
It is often used as an insulator for housing and electrical components due to its electrical characteristics, durability and can be pressed into complex shapes before firing.
As an alternate natural stone kitchen countertop instead of marble or granite, soapstone is often used because it is not stained by tomatoes, grape juice or wine. It is even used in laboratories since it is unaffected by acids and alkalis. Soapstone is unaffected by heat, so a hot pot can be placed on it without fear of burning or damaging the surface.
When soapstone is rubbed against almost any object, it leaves a white streak since it is primarily made of talc. Seamstresses, carpenters and other craftsmen have been using soapstone as a marking tool for years because it marks are visible and easily removed. It is also used as a marker by welders during welding process because the powder is heat-resistant and does not burn away.
Small chilled soapstone can be used in place of ice in a glass of whiskey. It is ideal because it will not dilute the alcohol and a few stones can keep a drink cold for over 30 minutes because the temperature of the rock changes very slowly. Also because the rock is soft, it will not scratch the glass.


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