Another soapstone question (I did try searching)

SLTKotaDecember 20, 2012

I was at a local stone place and they had some soapstone that was beautiful. It was still very green when wet and not nearly as dark (nearly black) as many pictures I see. Is this normal? A sample I got was VERY soft as well, I'm guessing that this is because it has a high talc content?

This has me wondering, is the lighter color from a higher talc percentage? If so, I'm wondering if that would mean that the darker the color, the harder the stone.

I really like the company that has it and I would like to use them but they said all of their soapstone is just as soft, to me it seem much softer than other samples I've seen and seems like it can be scratched with truly anything.

I know soapstone is soft but I'm hoping this is softer than normal, I would be afraid to set anything on it.

I did search but didn't come across anything about the color in relation to the hardness of soapstone.

Here is a picture of it
Thanks in advance,

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I just got an email from them saying that it is 80% talc and that is why it is so soft.

M. Teixeira website says:

"Average architectural grade soapstone , used for countertops, wood burning stoves , sinks, tiles, etc. will have around 50% of Talc, the harder ones, perhaps only 30%. Soapstone that is used for carvings, and the art industry will usually have around 80% of Talc."

Hmm... hopefully this means it is only this type that is so extremely soft. I don't want to give up on soapstone just yet.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Oh don't give up. I almost did till I found a soapstone that was hard enough for me and yet still had a ton of crazy veining (that was what I wanted). Keep looking!! BTW... that slab is gorgeous!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 5:40PM
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Here's a Mariana slab we recently picked out. Very dark, not greenish, almost jet black when oiled, it feels as hard as a Maple butcher block to me...

This post was edited by ctycdm on Thu, Dec 20, 12 at 19:47

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 7:45PM
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Don't give up. You can find a variety that is hard and not 80% talc. You are not near the East Coast, are you ?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Thanks! I am in Chattanooga, TN.

Remodelfla and Ctycdm, Do you know what your slabs were called or where it came from? They both seem much more along the lines of what I am looking for.

Would it be bad to ask the stone company if they would go through a different distributor like M. Teixeira or Dorado? It seems that there current distributor only has one type and it is all the same hardness.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:22AM
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I'm in South Florida but purchased my slabs at M. teixeira in Hackensack. Yep... I flew up there and hand picked them out. Mine is called Monsoon Wave though I don't think they have any more of them. They shipped it to a fabricator in Florida for me. My veining is too much for some people (wild seaglass colored inclusions everywhere) but I absolutely love it. I'm tough on a kitchen and we're going on two years. Some minor minor surface scratches if you look real close and dont' oil/wax for a long time... but you really have to get down and look for them. ONce oiled... you never would see it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:29AM
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Ours in the pic above is called Mariana. Much more veining shows up in that slab when oiled. I'm on the West Coast, our distributer is Walker- Zanger.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 10:29AM
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SLTKota, I'm no expert so take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. But. . . that slab you've posted just doesn't look like soapstone to me. Serpentine maybe?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:49PM
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We just picked out a slab of soapstone for our counters the other day. We went to Bucks County Soapstone. He deals with only a few "types" of soapstone. I believe he only gets his soapstone from Brazil. I wanted a black (not green) with some dark veins. I asked him about the veins and he said that the veins in the soapstone from Brazil are actually harder than the rest of the stone. He said he has gotten some soapstone from Virginia but he said that the veins had a very high talc content and thus crumbled easily. I know this doesn't answer your question about which soapstone is hardest but maybe if the slabs you were looking at were from the US and not Brazil you can find a place that has some from Brazil.
In general soapstone is softer than most other natural stones.
There are some threads where people discuss which stones scratch more easily than others and show their results on various samples

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 4:03PM
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Hardness is best measured using the Moh Scale test references. The list may be found by searching the web, but the two key items needed are one's fingernail and a copper penny (if you can find one) A piece of copper tubing will do. As soapstone for counters typically has inclusions of other compounds such as quartz, it will prove harder than pure talc at Moh 2. Variations all the way up to near 4 can be found.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 7:58PM
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The only soapstone currently being quarried in the US is at Alberene and that slab does not look like any of their varieties. Alberene slabs do not have issues with crumbling veins, please be careful how you pass along word of mouth information from an individual source.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 8:17PM
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Thank you everyone! I have decided to stay clear of this type, it just isn't what I am looking for at all. It may or may not be true soapstone but I have found it isn't for me, I can scratch very deep scratches that don't come out with oiling with my fingernail, it is much softer than a fingernail. From what I have read it seems more like carving soapstone.

The fabricator did say they have worked with and will work with dorado.

Athomeinva, I hope I didn't give the wrong impression. I'm not trying to pass on information but rather I am looking for to clarify as I am not sure I have been told correctly.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 8:18AM
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I don't know if Julia is still available, but it has beautiful emerald green tones and is very hard. I got mine about 4 years ago and it is still nearly pristine.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 8:41AM
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Stuart I was referring only to the statement that someone else made about VA soapstone crumbling easily. I first found GW when looking for information on soapstone and I would hate for someone who is considering Alberene and researching it to read this thread and be turned off by misinformation.
Good luck with your counter search!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 10:45AM
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Here at Alberene we do not have any issues with crumbling stone. If slabs aren't high enough quality to be used for counter installations they never are put into inventory. We do encounter talc veining in our soapstone, however, we are up front with clients and let them know to use a skilled fabricator that knows how to properly handle/work with talc veins. 90% of our slabs have hard quartzite veins and not talc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alberene Soapstone

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:22AM
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