How to care for soapstone is the number one question people ask when they are considering a soapstone countertop, fireplace or sink. Relax…it’s EASY! Raw soapstone slabs vary in color without any oil and range from green to gray to black.
Darkening With Oil or Wax
To care for soapstone, we recommend applying dry-wax, mineral or baby oil to the surface of your soapstone 24 hours after it is installed. We do not automatically apply anything because all the silicone and caulks used during installation need to cure for 24 hours after installation.
The application of mineral or baby oil is fast, easy and serves two purposes. First and foremost it brings out the natural colors of the stone and secondly it masks smudges from oils that will appear as dark marks or smudges. Many people think about leaving the soapstone natural, but then choose to oil it to hide smudges and finger print oils.
To Care For Soapstone, How Frequently Do I Oil?
Most people who choose soapstone countertops oil their tops a few times a year and then reduce the frequency of oiling or stop completely. They allow the natural patina to sets in and achieve a soft natural weathered look which they sought in the first place. Other people oil or wax much more frequently. This is simply a personal choice. I have soapstone floors and a fireplace that we have never oiled at all. Same for my bathroom. I like it the way it is naturally.
Is it Safe And What is Dry Wax?
Mineral oil is a very thin, “food safe” oil found in every grocery store or drug store, it is inexpensive and readily available. As it begins to evaporate it can leave a dry uneven coloration as it dissipates. Baby Oil makes the stone even darker than mineral oil and is easier to apply because it is so thin. Dry-wax does not evaporate or dry out nearly as quickly and tends to have the very same look. Dry-wax is a mixture of Carnauba wax and walnut oil.
I Heard Soapstone Can Scratch, Is that True?
Soapstone is soft and can scratch. To care for soapstone an application of oil or dry-wax masks and conceals most small scratches. Deeper scratches can be removed by sanding with common sandpaper.
To remove scratches, start with a low grit (100) and move up to a (200) and finally with a 400 grit paper, small circular motions will get the best results. Once you are satisfied that you have removed all the scratches apply a light coat of mineral oil or dry-wax. Your sink or top will look brand new. How much you use your counters and what you clean them with will affect the frequency of oiling as much as how “wet” you desire the surface to appear. Areas around or in a soapstone sink will lose the wax or oil faster than the less washed areas of the countertop.
Most people who buy soapstone are selecting it because they desire a weathered or aged look. This makes care for soapstone even easier. The worn rustic look of years of use is exactly what they are trying to achieve. If this is the look you are after, soapstone is a good material choice for you. If you are looking for a perpetually new and shiny look, perhaps granite or quartz may be a better choice.
While soapstone can withstand very high and sustained heat as long as it is slowly applied. In fact many wood burning stones are clad in soapstone because of its unique thermal properties. Thermal shock is the sudden and dramatic temperature change. This is not advised. Thermal shock such as pouring boiling water into a sink suddenly sending thermal shock into the stone is an example of how you could damage your soapstone.