Soapstone update

We remain undecided whether soapstone is aesthetically a proper choice for our new kitchen. We are, however, continuing with materials tests in case that decision is positive.  We’re also continuing because, of course, we’re both big enough science geeks to find such things interesting.

We partially oiled some of the samples (a stripe along one edge) with mineral oil.  It’s interesting how the effects of this oiling are disappearing faster from some varieties than others.  It’s also interesting how the darkening effect of oil is different than that of water, and how the degree to which they differ also varies across varieties. Where there’s a difference, though, the oil darkens the stone more than does water.

Lis tried to stain all the samples with her powdered drink mix, a substance that requires Soft Scrub or a Magic Eraser to get off of our current (worn Formica) counters (red wine behaves about the same). For all the varieties, it was possible to get the red color off with just a sponge and water, though it was easier on some than on others.

We tried to scratch or take a divot out of the different varieties with various materials — fingernail, copper penny, titanium spoon, steel pocketknife blade. The hardness varies significantly, but seems to be correlated to color — the darker stones, in general, are harder.  This is an issue because Lis prefers the lighter tones, but hardness is a desirable property for durability.

I took one of the definite-no samples (too green) to work where I’ll keep my ceramic coffee cup on it for the next few months to see what kind of damage it does.  This isn’t quite a fair test, because as it turns out this is one of the harder varieties (only minor damage from titanium) which probably means it’s probably (mineralogically speaking) not actually soapstone. But it’s definitely softer than ceramic so we’ll see.

This weekend I want to treat a few of the samples with a non-enhancing stone sealer to see how that affects darkening due to oil and water.

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