cleaning soapstone

lyndajoseph123July 23, 2014

I was told that oils and waxes can build up and needs to be removed on occasion, also sealed. Any information?

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Actually you want the oil build-up, that's what provides you with the rich, dark color. I oil mine w/mineral oil/beeswax combo every few months (about a year into the new kitchen). I clean it w/soap and water, I wouldn't seal it, there's nothing to seal, it's not porous. The guy who installed mine had a piece in his showroom that he had applied sealer/enhancer on about 6 months prior. It still looked nice and dark, he said he had been experimenting w/something that wouldn't fade over time (like oil). He asked if I wanted him to put it on my counters, I said no thanks. I like the natural oil finish better than an applied chemical.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:54PM
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Some soapstone is porous. I just tested a sample with red wine and it soaked it up like a sponge and stained. Shocked me. But if I could figure out how to post pics with this iPhone I'd show them

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:21PM
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When Oil marks gets on my soapstone, I just use dawn dish soap and blue scrubie sponge (suggested here) on the spot. Takes it right up. I don't oil although it is darkening quickly anyway. I don't have any sealer applied. Doing the sealer thing wouldn't work for me; I'm no longer into anything requiring additional maintenance beyond regular cleaning. The reason I went with soapstone.

@missy: do you know which soapstone you tested? Like you, I'm shocked

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:33PM
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This was a soapstone that had no name from THE reputable marble/granite showroom-fabricator in my area. They had two soapstone slabs in stock; each different, and the sample was different from the two in stock slabs. No names and they did not know the dealer where it was purchased.
It is soapstone but very light gray.
When I poured the wine on it SOAKED in you could see it. Left a worse stain than the marble.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:17PM
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hmmmm...... I've actually never heard of SS absorbing anything, that's new to me. It's why it's used in chemistry labs, it's non reactive and non-porous, at least all I've ever seen and heard about it would lend me to believe that. There are other stone that 'look' like SS that may be marketed as SS. I'm going to have to look into this some more. I know my SS doesn't stain, at all. I do get some rings in the oil finish from glasses and such but they clean up pretty easily.
Does that sample scratch relatively easily? All the SS slabs I looked at scratched, my criteria for hardness was that I couldn't easily scratch it w/my thumbnail. Some I could almost gouge others barely left a mark. Also SS generally has spider veins of talc (white), some have almost none some have a lot of movement and can be quite spectacular. My particular slabs have very dramatic veining (one reason I love it) that run the whole length of the slab.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Try phosphoric acid or Barkeeper's Friend (oxalic acid) on the "stains". It is just some dried wine caught in the texture of the SS.
(phosphoric acid is an ingredient in chrome/wire wheel cleaner found in the auto care dept.)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:03AM
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I found some technical info regarding the porosity of SS:

There is only one small negative aspect I can think of. Soapstone does not have porosity. If a material is not porous it will not absorb moisture. A steam for instance. Such particular non-porous characteristic, that in itself is wonderfully positive for baking or for using such structure outdoors in freezing climates. Hence, on the other hand, when fresh pizza base is placed on a heated soapstone surface, and if itâÂÂs to be cooked rapidly ��" a method for producing the most delightful culinary results ��" the steam from under the fresh base isnâÂÂt absorbed by the rock because it behaves as something highly glossy (a glass would do the same.) Much steam gets generated in the early moments of placing the wet base onto the hot floor surface. Therefore there is the chance of not achieving that desired higher crisp. Although do not fret yet. Here are a couple of ways for how to overcome this problem. One is to simply uplift the base 1 to 3 times within the first 10 to 15 seconds. Second is to create the center surface out of several pieces, which creates those little gaps in between the segments for the steam to run out. Low heat and mid range firebricks do have the optimal porosity so no any issues. There is always a way for how to develop, improve, service, fix, repair any subjects needed!

From this article:

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:07AM
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following this thread - thanks for all the info you guys.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 3:06PM
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I'm wondering if it might be Pietra Cardosa and not SS (?). Sometimes it can be called soapstone at some stone yards as it has a similar look.

If you scroll down to bob_cville's post in the thread below, you'll find some neat info.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pietra Cardosa/Soapstone

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 5:08PM
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I doubt it is Pietra. I do believe it is soapstone just not sure which variety. I picked up my samples from Teixeira and gardenstate soapstone and it is very similar to their softer types, barocca. It does scratch, gouge and chip up.
And Stains. :(
I had not tested the soapstone samples (any of them) for staining. I brought my samples home and will test for staining now and not just scratching.
It was weird you could actually see it soaking in. I should video it...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 9:49PM
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If it absorbed anything, it's not soapstone no matter what the label. Soapstone is a talc-schist, completely non-porous and non-absorbent. While different soapstones can vary in hardness and talc content, they do not vary in this regard. Read the countertop geology threads by karin-mt to learn more. And don't buy soapstone from any place that can't even label the variety. That place may be Mecca for marble, it doesn't mean they know soapstones.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:46PM
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Soapstone doesn't absorb. We've had it 10 years and not had to do a single thing other than wipe it down. Wife oils it maybe twice a year to make it look darker but even that is not necessary. I agree with EAM44.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 1:28AM
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If you got the absorbing soapstone from m. Teix or gardenstate, why not contact roger or jay at those places and ask them what it is. I know the samples I got from garden state were all labeled. I got my soapstone from m. Teix. Although I initially was open to getting my soapstone from anywhere, the more I spoke with other local places that dealt more with granites and marbles, I found they really weren't knowledgeable about soapstone. When I'm buying a specific type stone, the place I buy from *has* to know more about the stone than me.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:10AM
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My soapstone counters get washed with dawn/water about every two weeks. Rinse and wipe with cloth. Occasionally, I oil although it is more and more seldom.
Anything that is porous is not soapstone.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Did not get the absorbing sample from Teixteira or garden state. It was from my local large but predominately marble granite supplier.
Will test all my labeled samples for staining as soon as I get some red wine. Will post pics.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Testing - coffee, red wine, ketchup, olive oil.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:14PM
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This is after about 10 min or so. There is a soaked in halo around the drops on the grayer samples to the right of the pic. Coffee on the barroca is about soaked in. The darker harder varieties to the right show NO halos of absorption.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:23PM
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Soapstone doesn't "absorb" anything. It may look like it is, but it isn't and it doesn't.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:30PM
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The only thing Soapstone absorbs is HEAT, and it does that quite well!

Here is a link that might be useful: What is Soapstone?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 1:20PM
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Sorry for the hijack on this thread but it seems that what some are selling as soapstone either are not in fact SS or some soapstone absorbs.
I'll leave it for the day then clean up and post pics later this eve, if anyone is still interested.
Ok didn't post this earlier but just washed (scrubbed hard) these samples and most of the lighter gray show staining. The two darkest samples do not but had to scrub way more than I do with the granite that's currently on the counters.
I get that technically soapstone is nonporous and does not absorb anything.
The two dark samples on the left still had coffee beaded up on it. The other samples had dried stains that had to be scrubbed out. Some still show.
So really the only two samples that are real soapstone are the darkest ones.
They show little darkening from the oil also compared to the others.

Ctycdm - thanks for the link - interesting that Christ the Redeemer statue is soapstone

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 10:46PM
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I think I may know what you are referring to when you talk about "halos". My counters (installed about a year and a half ago) are medium hard, real soapstone--Green Mountain's Original PA--and they have never been oiled because I prefer the original matte charcoal look over the more intense and darker oiled look. Now that I have had them a while, they have patinaed and darkened and are no longer the lighter grey. But, I can get that effect back by washing with certain cleaners.

Back to the question: When we have been cooking or just using the kitchen for the day and haven't wiped the counters, there are sometimes rings from glasses, splotches, halos etc. This is much more visible than I'd ever imagined soapstone would be (but it is helpful in that I can tell when I really need to wipe up the counters). AND, when I use certain spray-on cleaners and just wipe and let evaporate, I get a definite pattern of streaks replicating the pattern I've used to wipe down the counters. It looks bad! When using those cleaners, the only way I can avoid this is to immediately wipe down the counters with a dry microfiber cloth (more work than I care to put into counters).

So, I don't think real soapstone truly discolors and/or stains, but, perhaps due to evaporative effects, it can show evidence of various different types of liquids that have been on the counters. The good thing though is that all of this will go away if one does a good washing. Different varieties are different. Family members installed soapstone counters at the same time as we did. They chose a darker, harder, and more "glossy" stone; they don't get the same types of halos and streaks as I do. And, to the OP, if you have a true stain from red wine, what you are experimenting with isn't true soapstone.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 9:29AM
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Your darker samples look like my stone which has an enhancing sealant applied to it, this would also explain why the coffee beads up on those samples. To find out if the darker stone was sealed you can sand it down and then see if water still beads up on it. The lighter pieces show the surface change that occurs from oils oxidizing the stone. Wine can make a superficial surface stain but as nothing penetrates below the surface level the mark can be scrubbed or sanded off.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:04PM
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Mistman- I understand the desire to use less chemicals but if you truly want a natural, more health conscious finish then you may want to look into the wax finishes that do not contain mineral oil or leave the stone bare.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:12PM
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I am curious about the enhancing sealant on your stone. Did you apply it yourself after installation, or was it on the stone when you purchased the slabs? Family members installed some soapstone that behaved so differently we were all suspicious had a sealant applied to it on the slabs themselves.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 8:56PM
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My counter guy applied it after install. How long have their counters been in? If it is sealed then it will wear off in the most scrubbed areas over time.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:33AM
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It may be better to test porosity using water .
The water test is easy as you can leave a palm sized puddle of water on the surface for 10-15 minutes and then wipe away.If the surface shows any absortion it isn't soap stone.
I think the staining you may be seeing using the products may only be on the surface. If the pieces you are testing are soapstone there wont be actual absorption.
However if you look at the surface of the stone under a microscope it will look like an English muffin.
These microscopic nooks and crannies(provided you are testing soapstone) will hold the oils or greases.
Sometimes too much for dawn and water. To clean the surface you would need a high alkaline cleaner(higher than 10.5 ph) to break down and emulsify the oils on the surface.
Those same nooks and crannies are what holds the mineral oils and or color enhancer in place.
Mineral oils evaporate over time and that is why you keep oiling. Color enhancer last longer but can be susceptible to wear and acid etching.
If you are getting real absortion where it takes time to dry out it isn't soapstone.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 1:03PM
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