I adore soapstone. This natural stone exudes warmth, strength, depth, stability, and softness. We will use soapstone on all of our surfaces in the kitchen, master bathroom, den fireplace hearth and surround, and bar. Soapstone is a rare choice today compared to over 100 years ago, but it is indeed the right choice for our home and our family life.
Below: A close up of one of our Soapstone slabs to be used in our home.
Soapstone (scientifically known as Steatite) is a metamorphic rock formed over a vast amount of time under significant amounts of pressure and heat; a condition typically found along convergent plate boundaries in the Earth’s surface. As happens in our own lives, a disastrous and destructive moment can unexpectedly lead to something magnificently strong and enduring; serenely calm, soothing, and beautiful.
The major mineral in Soapstone is Talc. The level of softness, and therefore usage, of each piece of stone depends upon this level of Talc. The higher the concentration of Talc, the softer the stone. Therefore, Soapstone is generally divided into two categories: softer (higher Talc content) artistic stone utilized in sculpting, or harder (lower Talc content) architectural stone utilized in countertops and fireplaces and the like. We will utilize the harder architectural Soapstone. Soapstone is quarried in small amounts all over the world, but most plentifully along the American Appalachian range, India, China, Australia, Europe, and Brazil.
Several features of this stone are appealing, including the texture. As you run your hands across the surface, it is smooth and creamy, like a dry bar of soap, hence the name, Soapstone. It has a distinctly warmer and softer feel than marble or granite. It is rather dark in tone, ranging between a light gray to a dark charcoal almost black, but also exhibits strikingly luminous veining. Besides the texture and visual appeal, Soapstone is an ideal stone as it is nonporous, nonabsorbent, heat resistant, and resistant to acids and alkalis. It has been utilized as kitchen countertops, laboratory countertops, sinks, cooking pots and slabs, bowls, plates, fireplace liners and hearths, tiles, bed warmers, and cold stones.
Below: Another view of one of our slabs to be cut and installed.
In comparison to other stones, Soapstone is indeed a softer stone, and it will show its age over the years, one of the features I appreciate most. It will soften around the edges, it will show nicks and scratches, but with a soft forgiveness not afforded by harder stones. The initial sharp cuts will diminish over time and be absorbed into the essence of the stone itself. As in life, those cuts are not forgotten, but they are softened and touched and remembered. I want to live life and grow old in my kitchen. I want it to grow old with me, softness and scratches and bruises and all. I will love the marks of age on myself and my kitchen, because they are marks of a life fully lived and fully felt, day after day, meal after meal, moment after moment; a life shared and lived and loved.
We made my great grandmother’s chocolate ice box pie yesterday, and it is just as delicious as it was when I was five years old. Recipes are living memories as long as you make them part of life today.
Below: My grandmother’s recipe box.
Below: My great-grandmother’s Icebox pie recipe. The girls and I looked up Icebox pictures so they understood that not that long ago we needed an actual block of ice delivered to keep our food cold.
Below: My precious helpers!
Below: Happy taste testers!
Below: Finished and delicious and remarkably nostalgic. Food is indeed nourishing for the body and soul.
Love and hugs,