The great thing about soapstone countertops is that they require very little maintenance. Unlike with granite and marble, soapstone doesn’t even require sealing! In this guide, we’ll give you a quick overview of what soapstone is, briefly touch on the qualities that make soapstone a great countertop option, and provide a handy guide that you can reference for all things related to soapstone countertop care.
Notice a scratch on your soapstone countertop? We have an easy, do-it-yourself solution that will erase that blemish in a jiffy. Wanting to clean your soapstone before hosting an event at your home? We’ve got advice for that, too. Plus, we’ve included a BONUS FAQ section at the end of this guide that covers everything there is to know about soapstone.
What is Soapstone?
Before we get in soapstone countertop care, let’s take a step back and look at what soapstone is and why we use it for countertops. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock made up of a bunch of different minerals, including talc and
- Resistance to acids and alkalis
- High heat capacity and resistance
- Non-absorbent AND non-porous
- Low electric conductivity
- Easy to carve
Why is Soapstone Used for Countertops?
Soapstone is a great alternative to granite and marble countertops, because it is unaffected by acids and alkalis. This means you can place tomatoes, wine, vinegar, grape juice, etc. directly on the surface of your soapstone countertop without the material being damaged or altered (unlike with quartz and granite).
Another perk is that since soapstone is non-porous, it’s completely stain resistant! Bring on the chemicals, acids and heat–no effect on your soapstone! You can place a hot pan directly on the surface without a hot pad, and clean with whatever chemical your heart desires.
Soapstone Countertop Care: Mineral Oil
Did you know that soapstone in its natural habitat is a light gray color? We bring out the charcoal color you’re used to seeing in a soapstone countertop by exposing the stone to water, grease and oils. These special ingredients initiate the oxidizing process, which then darkens the natural color of the soapstone.
To make this process go faster, you can treat your countertop with mineral oil every so often. Keep in mind that the first oiling shouldn’t be done until about 24 hours after the soapstone countertop is installed. This gives the glue enough time to set properly and allows dust residue to settle. Be sure that you’ve wiped away any dust residueon the surface prior to an oiling. The first oiling requires the most elbow grease, so don’t oil right after an arm workout! Here are the steps for your first oiling:
- Prep by having a few, dry rags set aside.
- Pour your mineral oil directly onto the soapstone and rub on to entire surface using a rag or small paint brush (great for corners!)
- Allow 30 minutes for the oil to sit, then wipe off excess oil with a clean rag.
- Since the oil won’t be absorbed into the stone, keep in mind that you will need to replenish this oil on a regular basis.
Frequency of Oiling
You choose the frequency of oiling for your soapstone countertop. Typically, people will oil once a month for about a year to get the look they’re wanting. For others, a couple months does the trick. During the first few months, you should oil your countertop about once a week. You’ll be able to tell when the oiling process is necessary if water starts leaving noticeable dark spots on your countertop. For those who clean their countertop frequently (which removes the oil), you may need to oil more often.
What it really comes down to is your preference; If you like a darker sandstone, oil more frequently! Keep in mind that every time you oil your countertops, the stone will hold the oil longer than the previous time. By the 8th month, your stone should stay permanently dark and the darkening process is complete.
You can purchase Food Grade Mineral Oil off Amazon for $9.95, or you can find mineral oil at any hardware store or pharmacy.
Mineral Oil Alternative: Linseed Oil and Beeswax
If you’re not a fan of mineral oil, you can always mix linseed oil and beeswax to get the same effect. These products combined can enhance the natural colors of soapstone the same way mineral oil does. The main perk of this combo is that it requires only one coat, where mineral oil may require multiple applications. The steps are the same, expecept you’ll want to allow a few hours of setting time before wiping the countertop dry.
Soapstone Countertop Care: Cleaning
After your mineral oil treatment, feel free to clean your soapstone with any household cleaner. A quick wipe down with soap and water will do the trick, though sink corners can be a little tricky. We recommend using a small vegetable brush to get into tight corners. If you happen to find any blemishes, use a coat of oil to remove.
The great thing about soapstone’s porous quality and chemical neutrality is that it’s resistant to bacteria and stains. You don’t have to worry about scorch marks from hot pans or blemishes from acidic foods.This means that very little maintenance is required with soapstone countertops.
Erasing Soapstone Countertop Scratches
Unlike with granite and quartz, soapstone can be susceptible to scratches. For many, these scratches can be charming and contribute to the natural, weathered look of the sandstone. For others, they’re an eyesore. The good news is that there are plenty of easy ways to erase these scratches, which we’ll go over in depth:
- Light Scratches: For very light scratches, an application of mineral oil should do the trick.
- Medium Scratches: Keep a worn piece of sandpaper (preferably courser, 60- or 80-grit sandpaper) under the sink. When you notice a scratch, simply rub the sandpaper over the affected area in a circular motion. If you’ve applied mineral oil prior to a sanding, be sure to re-apply the oil in the area of the scratch after you’ve sanded to create an even finish.
- Deeper Scratches: If you notice a deep scratch, use a worn piece of 120-grit sandpaper to rub the scratch in a circular motion. Then, follow up with 220-grit sandpaper and water to erase any residual marks.
- Preventative Measures: Prevent scratches in the first place by always using a cutting board!
- Call in a Pro: You can always call in a professional to take care of a scratch in your soapstone countertop if you feel uncomfortable taking care of it on your own.
Frequently Asked Questions about Soapstone
Q: Why is Soapstone Good for Countertops?
A: Soapstone is great for countertops, because it can withstand direct contact with a hot pan, doesn’t stain and doesn’t require sealing. The material is also perfect for those looking for a farmhouse feel in their kitchen. These countertops are increasingly being used in outdoor kitchen areas, since direct sunlight does not cause the surface to discolor or fade.
Q: What are Some Soapstone Alternatives?
Q: Does Soapstone Need to be Sealed?
A: Nope! Sealers are meant for porous stone (like marble and granite) which can stain. Because soapstone is so dense, it does not require this same treatment.
Q: Does Soapstone Chip Easily?
A: Because soapstone is a dense stone, it does not chip easily. That being said, the hardness of your soapstone countertop determines how easily it will chip, as will the type of soapstone. Having an eased, more rounded edge can prevent chipping. Chips are also harder to see if your soapstone has veins.
If you’re interested in purchasing a soapstone countertop or having a soapstone countertop installed in your home, contact us at 913-310-0420. We’re conveniently located at 14851 W 101st Terrace in Lenexa, KS and would love to walk you through every step of the soapstone selection and installation process. Give us a call!