White "bloom" on soapstone

tadhg555May 7, 2013

We've had our soapstone counters for about 6 months now. Love them. Recently, though, I've noticed a few white spots that I don't think were there before. Sort of a chalky "bloom." See the picture.

Has anyone else encountered this? Any suggestions for what to do? I don't think it's a stain since it doesn't wipe away -- it disappears when I wipe it down, but then comes back when the countertop dries off.

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How have you treated them to date? Has a wax product been used on them (by you or the installer)?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 3:10PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Hard water in your locale?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 3:58PM
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They are efflorescence stains.

Here is a link that might be useful: efflorescence

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:16PM
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I have my doubts about efflorescence from soapstone. Steatite (the predominant mineral in soapstone) is totally non-porous. Of course, there may be other components to this slab, some of which conceivably could be porous and efflorescing, but I sort of doubt it.

You cannot hurt the soapstone with the treatments I will suggest. I would try, in this order:
-nail-polish remover (acetone) or, better, mineral spirits. This would test my theory that it is a waxy deposit.
-CLR or Lime-a-Way. This would test hollyspring's theory that they are hard-water deposits.
-Nitric acid or muriatic acid. This would test barthelemy's theory that it is efflorescence. (Some efflorescent salts would be removed by CLR, too.)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:52PM
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Thanks for the advice. A bit more info:

1. No wax or other treatment save for an occasional application of mineral spirits.

2. I think this is a straightforward soapstone slab. Bought it at M Texiera in SF.

3. Not much hard water in the Bay Area.

I'll try out the suggested fixes. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:03PM
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