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What is soapstone used for?

Soapstone is often used in the finishing of Jotul and Scan stoves and pre-fabricated fireplaces. We are often asked to explain why soapstone? Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed primarily of talc with varying amounts of chlorite, mica, carbonates and other minerals. Many people use the name “soapstone” or “soapstone” and this is used interchangeably with “soapstone”. Because soapstone is made primarily of talc, it is very soft. Soapstone is usually grey, bluish, green or brown in color and is often variegated. The name “soapstone” comes from its tactile “soapy” feel, soft to the touch. This sensation is caused by the talc content in the stone. The talc content of architectural soapstone is typically between 50 and 75 percent, making it soft and smooth. However, other minerals in the composition give the stone strength and durability.

Geography of soapstone

Most soapstone deposits were formed between 300 and 400 million years ago and can be found throughout the world. It is known that large centers for the extraction of “soapstone” in the ancient world existed in India and Iran. Today, the most productive soapstone quarries are located in Brazil, the United States, Finland and India. Several natural properties of soapstone make it suitable for use as a lining for wood-burning stoves. The hardness and durability of soapstone can be compared to high-end marble, yet it is relatively easy to manufacture.

As a metamorphic rock, it is very resistant to heat. In fact, soapstone is often used to cast metals such as lead, tin and silver. It was also traditionally used for cooking pots, pizza stones and other cookware, fireplaces, wood stoves, and even smoking pipes.

Soapstone is non-porous, making it stain resistant and limiting the ability of germs and bacteria to penetrate the surface, increasing its hygienic properties. It is also suitable for making shells. Because soapstone is basically talc, which is chemically inert, it is highly resistant to etching and chemical reactions that could ruin its beauty.

Physical properties of soapstone

  • soft and very easy to cut,
  • non-porous – dense stone,
  • low electrical conductivity,
  • heat resistant,
  • high specific heat capacity,
  • resistant to acids and alkalis.

Soapstone does not burn or melt at the combustion temperature of wood, and also has the ability to absorb heat, retain it and radiate it. These properties make it an excellent material for wood stoves. The stove heats up and radiates heat into the room. It also retains heat, keeps the coals hot, and often allows the owner to add wood to the stove without the need for kindling.

Soapstone is chemically inert, heat resistant and durable, but also malleable. These qualities, combined with its beauty and ease of care, made it a suitable option for several uses.

Using Soapstone

Soapstone has a matte finish, so you don’t have to worry about fingerprints or drip marks. And because soapstone is non-porous, it is weather resistant, making it popular as a countertop surface for kitchens or even pool edges.

Soapstone can also be installed vertically or tiled on shower walls. Some architects have also found that soapstone tiles work well for bathroom flooring because of their water resistance and high adhesion.

Because soapstone has low thermal conductivity, it is not as cold in the winter as many other types of tile floors.

Other popular uses for soapstone in the home include fireplaces and wood stoves. Over the past few years, its use has increased significantly in areas with colder climates for use in the manufacture/fabrication of fireplaces and stoves. When used as a fire brick, it can absorb large amounts of heat and radiate softly for several hours.

Our store’s assortment includes stoves and ready-made fireplaces with soapstone cladding. This stone is mainly used for cladding by the Norwegian manufacturer of stoves and fireplaces Jotul, and the Danish manufacturer of stoves Scan.

Making soapstone

Soapstone is a less challenging material for manufacturers. Because the rock is softer than other natural stone materials, the manufacturing process is faster, requires less labor, and does not require the same heavy-duty cutting tools used for harder materials such as granite or quartz.

Soapstone is a beautiful natural stone that can enhance any kitchen or bathroom. It can be used equally well with ultra-modern or rustic decor. It has a warm finish and the properties of the stone make it ideal for countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, stoves and fireplaces.

The quality of steam in a sauna depends on what stones we choose and how long the temperature of the steam room and the bath procedure are maintained. When choosing stones for your sauna, it is important to pay attention to several aspects. The first important condition is that the stones for the sauna must have a high density. The denser the stone, the greater the thermal volume and the longer the stone retains heat. This is necessary for long-term heat retention and one-time air heating. The second condition is the integrity of the stone structure, thanks to which water can get into the cracks. This property of stones determines their safe use and the absence of stone dust in the steam room air. No less important is the heat capacity of stones – the ability to accumulate and retain heat for a long time.

The stones used in the sauna must be clean and safe for health; it is best to use natural mineral materials. For example, diabase, peridotite, soapstone or jadeite. Diabase is the lightest and cheapest stone. Soapstone is the most suitable stone for baths and saunas, having the same wavelength of human thermal radiation. Thus, soapstone provides gentle warmth and soft steam. The stone is a beautiful light gray color. Jadeite is a semi-precious stone with a high heat capacity, very durable, very beautiful and expensive. In ancient times, jadeite was most valued for its healing abilities. It normalizes blood pressure, strengthens and increases the elasticity of blood vessels, treats the kidneys and urinary tract.

In this article we will talk in more detail about the properties and benefits of soapstone (soapstone) when used in baths or saunas.

Soapstone and its properties

Mountain stone has unique properties – it has high heat-accumulating properties, is resistant to heating up to 1600ºC, does not emit harmful substances into the environment, and its scope is very wide. Our ancestors used this stone in baths, but, noticing its exceptional properties, people began to use soapstone for home stoves.

The largest deposits of soapstone rocks are located in Eastern Finland, Karelia (Russia) and the Urals. Industry began to use powdered soapstone products, especially in the production of electrical insulating and fire-resistant materials. Soapstone is widely used in the construction of blast furnaces in factories because the stone is relatively fire resistant.

Properties of soap stone:

• Natural soapstone has a soft thermal radiation, which is why its use in a sauna is so pleasant. Soapstone has a positive effect on the human body: it helps with colds and improves immunity. Various inflammations pass easily, blood pressure decreases.

• Soapstone releases heat slowly and over a long period of time. This is due to the fact that this stone does not conduct heat well (electricity too, but this is not relevant for saunas). The most important thing is the thermal resistance, thermal power and thermal conductivity of any insulation.

• A soapstone heater maintains a stable level of humidity and temperature in a bath or sauna.

• Soapstone is such a pure and environmentally friendly stone that it was used to make frying pans in Finland and the Baltic countries.

• The chemical resistance of the stone is particularly high. This does not even apply to strong acids; only very strong alkalis can damage its surface.

• Soapstone is believed to have masculine Yang energy. According to this theory, the stone stimulates the brain, resulting in increased concentration, improved thinking and elimination of depression.

Chemical composition of soapstone:

Technical characteristics of steatite:

• Volumetric weight 2980 kg/m³;

• melting point 1630-1640°C;

• specific heat capacity 0,98 kJ/kg°C;

• Thermal conductivity 6 W/mK.

Soapstone and its positive properties:

• natural material and has more warmth;

• resistant to temperature extremes;

• as a finishing material for decorating a sauna;

• soapstone does not absorb moisture;

• the material is non-slip and pleasant for walking barefoot;

• soapstone creates soft steam;

• soapstone has a high texture;

• stone goes well with wood;

• shows a unique interior design;

• soapstone is loved by sauna lovers and is popular on the market;

• due to its properties, soapstone is ideal for Russian and steam baths;

• absence of heavy infrared rays;

• soapstone is a chemically neutral substance;

• heating has healing properties;

Rock stone is a material that has passed all the necessary scientific and practical tests and is recognized as the best of natural materials used at temperatures up to +1200°C in a cyclic mode. Due to its ease of processing, durability and high thermal properties, soapstone is an excellent heat-resistant material for buildings and insulation. Given the rare properties of this material, soapstone is used not only for the manufacture of stoves and fireplaces. In the Baltic countries in the 1980s, this stone was widely used to make heated floors. Using soapstone, you can create a unique atmosphere in the sauna. The stone can be used not only in the sauna, it also looks impressive as a living room decoration.

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