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Soapstone is a metamorphic rock. There are two different materials popularly called soapstone. The first being Talc, the softest mineral on earth, mostly used in the manufacturing of cosmetics, refractory materials, sculptures, and everyday items such as toothpaste, baby powder and even chewing gum. What we manufacture at M. Teixeira Soapstone is an alternate material known as steatite.
The rock steatite (also called soapstone) is the material we use for our countertops, sinks, masonry heaters, flooring, and many other architectural applications. Steatite was also used to "coat" the famous "Christ the Redeemer" statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Steatite is composed of several minerals, but the most abundant is talc. Steatite, because of its additives, is harder than talc, and hence suitable for the applications cited above. Soapstone (steatite) in its initial state only comes in shades of gray, unlike talc, which is available in a variety of colors.
This naturally quarried stone is softer than most other naturally occuring minerals. Although soft, soapstone is a very dense (non-porous) stone; more so than marble, slate, limestone and even granite. Since soapstone is impenetrable, it will not stain, no liquid will permeate its surface. Other stones, including granite, have a propensity to soil; this is why soapstone (steatite) is widely used in chemistry lab countertops and acid rooms.
Our partners have been manufacturing massive soapstone fireplaces with great success for more than a decade. Soapstone derives its exceptional suitability for stove building material through its composition of talc and magnestite. These particular qualities were discovered in Nordic countries many decades ago. Its excellent heat-storage and heat-conductivity make soapstone more suitable than any other material for stove building. The air remains clean, the floor and walls are comfortably warm, and the air's humidity remains stable.
Soapstone radiates even warmth, which is repeatedly pointed out by doctors and biologists to be beneficial for human health. All these factors will convince you over and over that a soapstone wood stove can provide a zest for life, which allows you to become fit and active.
More commonly in Brazil, soapstone is used as cook tops, grills, pots and bake trays. A softer variety of soapstone, the mineral talc, is used for carvings, chalk, etc.