Soapstone Fireplaces

Like other types of metamorphic rock, soapstone is quarried from mineral deposits that date back several million years. Like marble, soapstone has a certain unique beauty from its grain-like appearance, and because it is remarkably durable and heat-resistant, it is an ideal material for the construction of Soapstone Fireplace.

Soapstone Fireplaces were common in early New England homes; local Indians had used soapstone for cooking and water vessels for centuries. Because it is soft to the touch and reminiscent to the surface of dry soap, it came to be known by the appellation “soapstone.”

The material that goes into the construction of soapstone fireplaces is easily carved and shaped yet provides enough durability to literally last centuries. In fact, many homes dating back to the 19th centuries have soapstone fireplaces that have been used regularly since those houses were new.

Soapstone is an inert substance that is unaffected by alkaline or acidic chemicals, meaning that it does not stain in the same way as other schists (grained metamorphic rock) such as marble and slate. For this reason, it is an ideal material for kitchen countertops as well as science labs and work benches. Anything that is spilled on Soapstone Fireplaces
and counters are easily removed.

Despite its heat resistance, soapstone also retains and conducts heat very efficiently. All of these are good reasons why soapstone fireplaces are worthy of serious consideration. Soapstone is used in numerous application in which high heat levels are present, including kilns, pizza ovens, wood stoves and more. One of the great characteristics of soapstone fireplaces is one can burn nearly any type of fuel, and the hearth will continue to hold and radiate heat long after that fuel as been consumed.

You may have heard that soapstone is extremely soft, and can be carved using nothing more than one’s fingernail – and thus be wondering why in the world anyone would make soapstone fireplaces.

In fact, some varieties of soapstone is very soft; however, the type that is used in making soapstone fireplaces has a much greater density. Soapstone fireplaces can literally last for generations.

Although soapstone fireplaces do not stain, they will develop a certain “aged patina” over years of use. This is desirable to some people; however there are mineral oil sealers that can be used to treat soapstone surfaces much the same wood can be treated and sealed. As is the case with fine wood surfaces, such a treatment may need to be reapplied to the surface of soapstone fireplaces periodically.

In any event, when it comes to the ideal balance between beauty and utility, soapstone fireplaces are ideal.

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