The World’s Most Interesting Counter Material … Soapstone

It might even have a Dos Equis with the World’s Most Interesting Man.

Those of you on the east cost of the United States are familiar with this material; those of us west of probably Pennsylvania all the way to the west coast are mostly at a loss about this amazing countertop material.

I know I have mentioned this natural material in the past, but felt compelled to dedicate an article to it. Soapstone in my opinion might just be the world’s most interesting material. Why you ask? Let me educate you on soapstone. Here are some interesting facts about soapstone. It is mostly comprised of talc, and because of that is very soft. On a Mohs hardness scale it has a value of 2.5 to 5.5. Anything above the 5.5 and it’s not soapstone. By the way, a knife blade can scratch a soapstone counter. Soapstone has been used for centuries for things like cooking slabs and bowls (made by the Native American Tribes). Vikings used it to make cooking pots and sold them abroad. You can find soapstone being used in the ancient trading city of Tepe Yahya in southern Iran around the 5th – 3rd millennia BC. Really…. Or how about the Palace of Krossos where a table was found made of soapstone. From West Nigeria to India to China you can find soapstone. And if you happen to go to Rio de Janeiro and see the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer you are looking at soapstone. The outer layers are made of soapstone.

Hopefully you are picking up on what seems to be an amazing material. So, what can we do with this material? Soapstone makes for amazing counters; nothing can stain or damage it. Even acid from a car battery does nothing to a soapstone counter. So, make that lemonade with no fear, worry not about that orange juice spill or that tomato juice on the soapstone counter… And enjoy the soft feel that it has, it feels like a bar of soap, hence the name soapstone.

Use it for floor tile in a bathroom and heat it with radiant heat, it will feel warm to your feet and give off the heat for hours and hours. Use it for the hearth and walls where you put your wood burning stove, again it will radiate heat for hours after the stove is shut down for the evening. But it not only the heat retention properties that are amazing, you can make soapstone into little cubes and throw them in the freezer. When they are cold, drop them in a drink for an ice free drink (no watering down my drink with ice). I love this! The cubes are called whiskey stones, and the world’s most interesting man uses them in his Dos Whiskey when he is not drinking Dos Equis. Some of you are thinking: Won’t those whiskey stones absorb the fluid that surround them? The answer is no, soapstone is denser than granite. As a matter of fact it is the only stone that I know that has a NSF 51 rating, making it safe to use in food prep areas like restaurants. So, prep that chicken on that soapstone counter, clean it, disinfect it and make me a dogwood sandwich in the same spot, I’ll eat it! I promise you I won’t do that on my granite counters.

There are more uses for soapstone, but I would rather let your imagination work to come up with cool things to do with the material. Right now I am headed out to the shop to go make some whiskey stones, it’s Friday and the World’s Most Interesting Man is coming over for dinner and drinks to tell me about his findings on soapstone.