Soapstone is an excellent choice to use in the kitchen near the stovetop or at a fireplace. This enduring stone holds up to heat and maintains heat better than any other natural stone on the market. It maintains its heat in a subtle way making it comfortable to the touch. Granite and marble can also withstand high heat from a hot pan, but only soapstone can also maintain its quality and durability under direct contact with fire.
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that was naturally formed in the earth by incredible amounts of pressure and direct heat. The stone began in a molten form between layers of earth deep under the surface. Because of this intense and natural forming process of soapstone, it is capable of withstanding almost any amounts of heat as a countertop or fireplace surround.
This unique characteristic of soapstone makes it ideal for placing hot pans from the stove directly onto the countertop without over-heating the surface or being concerned about breakage, cracking, or permanent damage to the stone. For the same reasons it is a great choice for a fire surround and hearth because it can even hold up to fire. Soapstone absorbs this intense heat and then distributes it through the stone allowing the surface to remain touchable. The cool-down time is gradual and the heat disperses slowly, which prevents quick temperature changes from hot to cold. Dramatic temperature changes in other materials such as metal, wood, or even granite can diminish the quality of the material over time. Soapstone holds up to temperature changes well and maintains its quality with daily wear and tear.
Soapstone is commonly used as kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, and flooring, but there are many other less known ways that soapstone is used today. This remarkable stone maintains cold temperatures as steady as it does heat. Thus it is used as an ice alternative where it is frozen and then used to chill alcoholic beverages without melting, commonly known as whiskey stones. Soapstone also makes a great medium for carving and sculpture with its softer composition and ability to maintain its beauty without fading or discoloring over time. One of the largest sculptures carved in soapstone is the recognizable Christ the Redeemer towering nearly 100 feet high and located in Rio de Janeiro. Seamstresses, welders, and carpenters have also been known to use soapstone as a marking tool since it can mark similar to chalk. Soapstone is also used to create casting molds for molten metals with its high resistance to heat and natural oily surface allowing for easy removal.