What keeps soapstone darker longer. . .The answer! ! !

florida_joshuaOctober 24, 2007

So I did a little test to answer the question.

The products:

Clapham's Beeswax Salad Bowl Finish

Bee's Oil

Regular Mineral Oil

Mystery Oil

First a brief discription (my opinion)

Clapham's: It is a paste, inbetween a wax and a liquid. Goes on easy and feels amazing after you put it on. On the touch catagory it is the best of the bunch.

Bee's Oil: It is a wax. A little harder to get on but if you heat it up it would be easier. Has stay power. This is at the top when it comes to keeping the patina on the stone.

Regular Mineral Oil: Needs no discription. It's easy to apply. Would keep a bottle around for those lazy days. Feels oily compared to the wax or paste. That feel goes away quickly though (whithin a hour or two if you wipe it down with a rag).

Mystery Oil: It is a liquid similar to the mineral oil. Not so crazy about the warning lable. Feels a little bit more oily than the mineral oil at first. Seems to react similar to the mineral oil. In my opinion I would rather use the mineral oil just because of convienience considering the warning about it being combustable.

The proof:

This is unoiled stone.

This is the stone just after application

This is a picture of the sheen each gives off

A day after the first oiling

I then oiled it twice more over the next 2 days and waited 4 days to see what we had. Here it is.

The mystery oil evaporated the quickest, then the mineral oil, contiuing on to the clapham's, and finally the Bee's oil.

I could continue the process but I do believe that you will continue to see the same results. Over time I think you wouold spend less time applying with the wax products but I would keep the mineral oil around for quick touchups or lazy days.

This test also gives people a good idea of how soapstone will react when it is installed in their home. This process of oiling and or waxing lessens with time. Each variety of soapstone can react differently as well. This means some stone evaporates the oil or wax products off quicker and or slower. Some people leave it unoiled some oil it often. Some like it inbetween and only oil it sometimes. . . So it really is up to the owner to choose how the stone fits your lifestyle. I still have not figured out how describe to someone who does not know about soapstone in one or two paragraphs. I know it sounds cheesy but I feel it's an experience. If you don't touch it, feel it, live with it, you'll never really understand it.

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Thanks so much for the info. I am printing it out as we speak. I also want to say thanks for all the assistance you provide on this forum. While I am still nailing down a layout for my kitchen, I am convinced soapstone is the way to go(not a granite lover). Thanks again. I(we) really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 4:56PM
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Very interesting.

I have the Bee's Oil and I like it a lot, but sometimes I just use mineral oil. I have both the regular thick mineral oil, and the thinner mineral oil.

The thinner mineral oil goes on the easiest, but doesn't hang around as long as the thicker mineral oil.

The only thing I wonder about with the mineral oil/wax combo is wax build-up. Like the waxy build up that use to need stripping from floors, way back when. I wonder if, over time, there will be a build up of wax that I will regret.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 4:58PM
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Joshua, thank you so much for this! It's very informative and the demo has really helped me out a lot.

I'm thinking that the Bee's Oil is very similar, if not identical, to the Sweeby's Oil we have heard so much about on the forums, here? 50% mineral oil and 50% beeswax melted together. (I've made a batch, but have not been able to get my counters cleaned off enough to use it yet!) Am I correct, would the homemade recipe be similar to the Bee's Oil?


    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 5:26PM
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What a neat experiment! Thanks for conducting it and posting the results with the pictures included, very helpful indeed!
I'm waiting on my samples before I call you so I don't wear out my welcome by calling you every few days with silly questions ;-)
Gotta go get me some Bee's Oil so I can play with my samples...


    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 5:49PM
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how helpful, thank you!! i like the idea of using beeswax, anyway. it's another wonderful natural material.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:08PM
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Very nice but you dont think that it is easyer to use a sealer?
try this sealer, the best in the market

Here is a link that might be useful: sealers

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:18PM
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Emmie, it should be the same. The label says it's a blend of mineral oil and bee's wax.

I was hoping this would help some people out.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:20PM
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welcome to the forums, Mickey1970, sealers don't work on soapstone because it's non porous. They don't have anything to bite into. . . If they did we would all be using it. The stone natually patina's over time with oil contact. Your hands, foods, and anything with oils on them help this process along. If you do not oil you get an uneveness in the patina. Some like this look others choose to oil the stone to even out this look as well as build up the patina that sits on the surface of the stone.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:29PM
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Mickey: you can't use a stone sealer on soapstone b/c soapstone is nonporous. The sealer cannot penetrate it. (FJ will correct me if I'm wrong here...)

The oils in the above discussion basically sit on the surface of the stone and oxidize, thus creating the dark color that we soapstone fanatics adore. The oil is purely cosmetic. It isn't required.

Hope that helps!

And thanks Josh!!!!! It's almost time for me to get some Bee's Oil!


    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:33PM
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Thank you for all of the information. My soapstone is about two months old and I have only used mineral oil on it but I am interested in trying the other products you mentioned. Is the bee's wax available at hardware stores?
Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 7:30PM
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Joshua, that was super of you to do. Right now I am thinking the "Sweeby mix" may be the way to go. It sounds like it would be easier to apply than the Bees oil you used but certainly have some of the benefit. Thanks!!!!!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 7:44PM
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I just checked the Clapham's site and it's pretty pricey stuff. Is it something other than just bees' wax? 'Cause I've got bees' wax onhand and I could just use that. Or should I thin some down with some of the mineral oil I also have. A 50/50 Sweeby's mix? Or higher on the bees' wax (as I'm guessing from the shape of the container)? About how viscous is it?


    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 7:48PM
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barrelhaus, I got my Bee's Oil at Williams-Sonoma store. I couldn't find it on their website.

It's fairly hard in the can, takes some elbow grease to get on, but it lasts for a long time.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 8:09PM
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My GM Original has been in since Jan. and after the initial few oilings with mineral oil, I've used the oil-wax mix from Williams Sonoma. I give my counters a stone massage : ) every 4-6 weeks, with an occasional touch up around the sink and stove. I've never had mine return to the original gray, even after the first oiling.

To soften the mix I put it under the infared lights of my VAH. Works like a charm but fast. I sometimes forget it's there and have wax soup and a very hot-to-the-touch can. ; ) But I found it can be poured on a soft cloth and then used without being in its usual waxy state. Either way, I love the mix!

Diana, happy to be a STONER : )

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 8:34PM
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On the other hand, while i don't have my stone installed yet (uh - could be 6 mo. at the rate I'm going) - I love, love, love the Green Mountain original medium green with the lighter green veins of the slab I picked out. Don't know if I will want to oil it. But thanks, Joshua. I'm keeping this in my soapstone file.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 8:45PM
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My DH (that would be Joshua in case some don't know) keeps forgetting to tell everyone where we get the Bee's Oil. It's from Holland Bowl and Mill co. It is a lot cheaper then the Claphams. The Claphams has a silkier texture (I love putting it on my hands as well as wooden spoons and such. I've attached a link to Holland Bowl and Mill soo if anyone wants to purchase it and try it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Holland Bowl Bee's Oil

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 9:25PM
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Interesting experiment. I used tung oil and have not had to rub down my stone for probably a year now. I gave it two coats to start and maybe did it twice again in the next year. so that is 4 times in total in 2 years.

So that may be an option too.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 9:54PM
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pickles, I'm glad you brought that up. The only reason I don't ever recomend tung oil is the rags can catch fire if not disposed of properly. I can only imagine someone comming back to me saying they took my advice and their house is now a pile of ashes. But the soapstone servived. . . lol

It is also why I pointed out that the mystery oil has a warning label. It does contain tung oil.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 10:03PM
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I ordered my bee's oil from Holland and have done my countertops, island and laundry room vanity 3 times in the past month. We're waiting for the house to be completed, and this ritual eases some of the stress I feel when I go to see what's been completed (or not...) at the site.

The soapstone looks gorgeous, but an added benefit is that my hands haven't looked this good in years! I've spent lots of money on dozens of hand creams that promised the results I'm finally getting just oiling my soapstone.

Another benefit to having soapstone - a built in beauty treatment!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 10:22PM
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Please, please, pleeze! What's the viscosity of the Clapman's?

If I combined mineral oil and bees' wax, what percentages do you think it should be?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 12:51AM
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Imrainey: I think Clapham's is made with carnauba wax instead of beeswax. You can combine bee's wax 50/50 with mineral oil and get the same thing as the Bee's oil wax. Or, a rough equivalent. I melted 4 ounces of pure beeswax and added 4 ounces of mineral oil. I hope that helps!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 1:45AM
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Can my daughter use this for her science fair project? (just kidding!) Thank you for all your hard work.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 8:55AM
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Nice job Joshua --

And your results dovetail neatly with my own experiments. From what I've seen playing around with the 50/50 proportions:

- Adding more mineral oil produces a softer product (more creamy, less waxy) that's the easier to apply, produces more 'shine' than 'glow' on the stone, but has a shorter darkening window.

- Adding more beeswax makes the product harder and more difficult to apply, but also produces a gorgeous 'glow' in the stone and silky surface texture, and a longer-lasting darkening treatment.

For application methods, what I do now is to melt a relatively hard-waxy mixture, then pour a thin stream onto the countertops, which instantly solidifies. Then I use a soft plastic spatula or pancake turner to scrape off the ribbon of wax. That produces a bunch of little slivers of wax that are easier to rub in than a larger 'solid' piece.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 9:21AM
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Sweeby, I wonder what would happen if you warmed up a section of countertop first? How would you do that? One of those really big Ziploc bags with some hot water in it should do the trick; let it lie on the stone for a few minutes, then move it over and start waxing the warm section while another section warms up.

Just what I need, another distraction to keep me from doing the work I have to do!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 10:28AM
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Warming the counter sounds like a great idea! I'm also envisioning grating the wax in some way (food processor maybe) and then storing it that way (kinda like soap flakes). I wonder if anyone sells grated bee's wax.

Maybe a few more weeks til I can actually be trying this myself!



    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 11:41AM
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What about the bee's wax that has orange oil in it instead of mineral oil? Has anybody tried it? Would it be safe to use on the counters or it is just recommended for furniture?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 12:00PM
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Like your idea Francy! Why not use just a 'regular' cheese grater? I don't know that it would 'store' that way... I'll try that next time.

WB - I don't see that orange oil could hurt -- Again, soapstone's not porous, so it's not like it's soaking in.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 3:55PM
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Hmmm . . . I don't think I'd do the flakes. It would take more effort to rub them in than just softening the beewax mixture a bit and spreading it on the counters.

As for warming the counters, that just doesn't seem necessary to me, either. Again, much more effort and work than is necessary to wax the counters.

Just my thoughts after using the wax for 8 months. But I'll be looking forward to your "experiment results." : )


    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 7:54PM
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Diana: you use the Bee's Oil, right? I think that's the one I'll order.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 8:37PM
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Hi Francy, yes, I use the Bee's Oil. The can says it's by Tree Spirit but I buy it at WS. They have a website: www.treespirit.com All natural, food safe, made in the U.S.A : )


    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 10:32PM
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I don't think we want to lose this valuable information. Thanks Joshua for experimenting and sharing your results!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 5:24PM
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Cool experiment. I am dying to get the pics posted of my new countertops! My Christmas present did not fit under the tree this year! We have used the Holland Bees' Oil for years, and it does help work out those muscles and releive stress at the same time.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2007 at 6:44AM
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Is this a stupid idea? After reading your posts I was wondering if it would be easier to apply the wax with an electric car polisher/buffer thingy.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2007 at 10:02AM
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a car buffer is exactly what we are going to experiment with (on a leftover) to see if it works...if we decide to oil at all - for now, after oiling about 4 times and having huge color differences in our different pieces of stone, that are much less noticeable in it's unoiled state, we have stopped oiling (love the oiled, darker look, but the pieces really don't seem to match at all - even though, i was told they are all from the same block...) i am waiting until after the holidays to speak to my fabricator - but i doubt he will replace the whole kitchen (it is also MUCH softer than any green mountain original that i have ever seen...) so i will live with it for now and save $$ to replace it, with a different soapstone, when i can....

    Bookmark   December 25, 2007 at 10:32AM
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My counters are finally being installed on Jan 11. So I went online to order from Clapham's. Unfortunately, I found that the shipping cost was almost as much as the medium sized container of wax! So I headed to Williams Sonoma and got a couple cans. I was happy to find that the wax is pretty soft. So it seems like it will be easy to apply. I've been using it as hand cream in the meantime...



    Bookmark   December 25, 2007 at 12:58PM
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We just got our counters installed (the counters are Julia and the island is Santa Rita Venata). I saw this post in researching and have bought some bee's oil to try.

M. Teixeira put a coat of oil on before on everything at the end of the installation-they look great. We would like them to stay dark looking.

It's been a few years since this experiment was done, what are opinions now? Bee's wax or the mineral oil?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 9:26PM
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I don't know if it's the bees wax or just that my counters are getting "broken in" but I definitely don't have to oil them as much. But FL Joshua is definitely the soapstone expert so what he says goes! ;-)

I FEEL like it lasts longer with the bees oil, but I can't say for sure. The last time I oiled it had been a month (my counters are pretty new) and I just oiled because I had time, not necessarily because they needed it. Taht's pretty good I think for new counters.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 7:02AM
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Hi. I am using wax on my counter and it really looks nice. I noticed that soaptone can be made even more beautiful with time, provided it is well maintained with mineral oil or wax on a regular basis. Just be careful on choosing the products make sure it is approved by you fabricator. The link I have for you might also help so try to check it out. Its the product we use and it works for us.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchens Countertops

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 6:21AM
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This is a super old thread that I never saw but now I see why so many people here have said that sealants don't work on soapstone. Florida Josh if you get a chance you should try a color enhancing sealant just as you tested the waxes and oils, the sealant does darken the stone and keep it dark erasing the need for oils or waxes.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:26AM
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Even though this is an old thread, I thought I'd contribute that Lee Valley (www.leevalley.com) also carries beeswax/mineral oil (it is identified as salad bowl finish) and they ship to both Canada and the US.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 7:55PM
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