MIRASOL BLACK HONED SOAPSTONE!!! ARRIVING IN DECEMBER 2014!
We will be receiving other colors, but the Mirasol Black is what we’re receiving first.
The company we ordered it from is called Mirasol, based out of Utah, USA. However, they have extensive contacts and staff in Brazil. They were formed to bring a direct connection between the largest group of legally registered Brazilian quarries and a nationwide network of quality slab distributors, in order to make the very best soapstone available for the North American market. They believe the more American consumers know about soapstone, and the more easily they can obtain it, the more this product will become the product of choice for American homes.
What is soapstone?
Technically called Steatite by geologists, soapstone is a very dense variety of talc, formed from the composition of talc and other minerals during rock metamorphosis. It is principally grey or grey/green in color, with varying degrees of white veins of pure talc. Soapstone is best known for having a soapy feel – hence the name. The surface of soapstone is most commonly sold with a honed finish, which is smooth, like a polish, but is non-reflective. Other finishes are also available, like leather finish.Traditionally, soapstone is treated with mineral oil to aid in sealing, and to enrich the color by turning it a dark rich color.A periodic application of mineral oil is the only maintenance it needs.Like old silver, soapstone develops a patina over time, which gives it a rich, antique character.
History of soapstone
Soapstone has traditionally been used in America for centuries. First found by Native Americans, domestic soapstone derives geologically from a line of talc and accompanying mineral deposits running along the Appalachian Mountains from New England to Georgia. Early colonial settlers found it an ideal stone for many applications and it can still be found in historic residences throughout the original 13 colonies. While easy to fabricate, soapstone also provided these early users with superior thermal properties and natural acid resistance. Colonial fireplaces were in fact lined with soapstone and farmhouse box sinks could be fashioned by the settlers themselves from its slabs. Today, we enjoy many of these same great properties, and once again, soapstone has become a popular material of choice in American homes.With countertops and bar tops where products like vinegar, wine or lemons are present, soapstone’s acid resistant properties are essential.And the way soapstone naturally absorbs and evenly distributes heat, lends this material perfectly to use in fireplace surrounds and wood burning stoves and even cookware!This heat dispersing property also makes soapstone fully capable of handling any hot pots you might place on it.Remember the black laboratory tops in school?They were made of soapstone because they would not stain and were resistance to school children’s mistakes, like an acid spill or a fire from a Bunsen burner.Of all natural stone, people continually choose soapstone because it withstands heat and does not absorb liquids.
Where does Mirasol Soapstone come from?
The large blocks needed to produce full sized slabs are rare in the Northern Hemisphere due to the destructive impact of ice age glaciers and our frequent freeze/thaw cycles, which naturally break up stone. Today, after centuries of consumption, large blocks of soapstone are almost non-existent in US quarries. To obtain large slabs (at least 8 feet long and 4 ½ feet high), Mirasol Soapstone imports all its slabs from Brazil – a country which was spared the affects of glacial ice and seasonal freezing – and therefore is an ideal source for this valued stone. Prized for its structural quality and beauty, Mirasol Soapstone is available in a number of colors reflecting the slightly different background tones and the variation of its veining.
What are the quarry and factory conditions?
While there are many soapstone quarries in Brazil which operate without legal status, all the soapstone slabs imported by Mirasol Soapstone are extracted from legally registered quarries and meet all government requirements with respect to environmental standards and are staffed with legal, adult aged workers paid according to industry standards and employed in a safe workplace.
What colors does it come in?
Soapstone begins naturally in tones of grey to grey /green. Overtime, it will oxidize, or darken, to a natural dark color and develop a rich patina through use. The application of mineral oil enhances this darker color and creates a uniform look to the slabs.
Forest Oiled honed
Spyder Oiled honed
Mirasol Black Oiled honed
Cinza Oiled honed
How do I maintain my Mirasol Soapstone?
Our soapstone requires very little maintenance, since it will not absorb liquids and doesn’t need any special handling around heat or acids. In the beginning, you will want to apply mineral oil to help in the oxidizing process and to keep a homogenous color. Over time, this color will ‘set’, and oiling will no longer be necessary. To apply the mineral oil, simply use a clean cotton cloth, and wipe on the oil in circular motions. After 20 minutes or so, wipe off any excess. You can continue this process every few weeks as needed (you will notice the lighter grey showing through when it needs to be re-oiled). Over time, the soapstone will naturally darken evenly, and will no longer require any oil.Sometimes, new scratches in soapstone will appear white, which is simply a residual of talc dust. But further application of mineral oil will remove the dust and restore its lustrous dark color. Deeper scratches can be first removed by hand using a #150 or higher sandpaper. Gently rub over the scratch, followed by a touch up of mineral oil. As for cleaning up on a daily basis, any household cleaner will do fine with the soapstone.But since it does not absorb liquids, your soapstone countertop should not require strong cleaning.Usually, just soap and water will do the job.
Products are available besides slabsSoapstone Maintenance
The only maintenance required for soapstone (steatite) is the application of mineral oil to enhance the natural darkening process the stone goes through. Once mineral oil is applied, the stone will turn into a very dark charcoal gray, sometimes black. Often times, varieties of soapstone will keep a hint of green. Steatite (soapstone or soaprock) is virtually heat proof and used in the construction of masonry heaters because of its excellent thermal qualities. It is also used in creating pizza stones, cooking pots, oven interiors and numerous related applications. You can take a pot right from your stove and place it on your soapstone countertops without harm.
Oiling a Soapstone Countertop
We recommend oiling your countertops to ensure that the stone will evenly darken. The oil is not sealing or protecting the stone, it is only “speeding up” the natural darkening process that steatite (soapstone) goes through. Soapstone is non-porous and, unlike marble and granite, does not need to be sealed.There isn’t a set rule of how often you should oil the countertops. Oiling too little or too much will not damage the stone in any way. We recommend oiling the countertops as soon as the previous coat of mineral oil has started fading away (evaporating). Once you oil the countertops for the first time you will see the stone will become much darker. A few days from the first oiling, most soapstone will lighten back up. You can re-treat your countertops every time this happens. The soapstone will take approximately 3 coats of mineral oil to reach its final color, getting darker after every oiling. Every time you oil your countertops, the stone will hold the oil longer than the last time, until about the 6th or 8th month the stone will stay permanently dark.You can oil the countertops any way you like. You can spread some oil on the counters, then rub it with a rag, or you can put the oil on the rag and oil the counters. To make the next oiling easier, keep the same rag in a zip lock bag, you will see that the rag will soak in the oil and spread easier on the countertops. Immediately after you’ve oiled the soapstone, you can remove all the excess, until the countertops no longer feel slick. There is no such thing as “let the oil soak in”. Remember, soapstone is impermeable, nothing penetrates the surface.
Cleaning a Soapstone Countertop
Any common household cleaner can be used to clean soapstone counter surfaces. Chemicals and acids do not harm it. However, we do recommend that you use regular soap and water because harsher solvents may remove the mineral oil treatment, therefore generating more maintenance. Soapstone, being softer than granite and marble, is also more prone to scratches. The great advantage is that any scratches can be easily removed with a light sanding and/or mineral oil.
Eventually the countertops will get scratched. Most scratches can be hidden by lightly applying some mineral oil. If you get a deep scratch in there, you will need to do some sanding. With a small piece of 120-grit sandpaper, sand the scratch area in a circular motion until the scratch is almost gone, then using a 220-grit sandpaper do the same thing but this time using water. Clean up the countertop and oil in that section again. Sanding will remove the mineral oil, and remember that the stone will take 3 coats to reach the final color. You may notice a slight color difference on that spot. Do not worry, you can oil in the morning, then again in the afternoon and so on until the color evens out. Soapstone lends itself to a number of products besides countertops.Skilled fabricators can cut our slabs into farmhouse sinks, tables, fireplace & tub surrounds, shower bases, steps and more.In addition, manufactured items made directly in Brazil are in stock, including tiles & mosaics, vessel bowls and cookware.