• Hannah

So, What Actually is Soapstone?

Some of my favourite items that we stock in the Wild Home shop are our soapstone boxes, ring dishes and African tea sets (can’t see these yet? They’re coming!). Our customers love the smoothness of the soapstone and how easily it can be carved and decorated into rhinos, elephants, geometric patterns and anything else you can dream of.

A question we get asked a lot is... ‘So, what actually is soapstone?’

Soapstone, sometimes referred to as steatite or soaprock, is a reasonably soft metamorphic rock. Soft, because it contains varying amounts of talc, which is the softest rock on the Mohs scale of rock hardness (diamond, being a level 10 and at the top). This softness makes it the ideal medium for carving into.

Despite its relative softness, soapstone is a versatile material and historically has been used for cooking pots, as an insulator and was the stone of choice that the Egyptians used to carve their sacred scarab beetles. I love this fact!

For us today, the wonderful features of soapstone translates into beautiful countertops, decorative bowls and statues and even tea sets (yes, I promise they’re coming!).

One thing to bear in mind when buying soapstone, is that in order to quarry and excavate the amounts needed as popularity increases, there are parts of the world where habitats are being destroyed by mining. As a mindful and ethically conscious shopper (you know you are, you wonderful human), it’s worth doing a bit of research and checking that your soapstone bowl has come from a quarry where employees are treated fairly, artists are well-paid for their work and no tigers or rhinos or even the smallest beetle has lost their home as far as is possible.

As people are kindly shopping with us more and more, we are able to make donations and support the work being carried out in Kenya to protect the natural environment.

Thank you for taking the time to read today’s post (I hope you were at least enjoying a nice cup of tea at the same time). Feel free to pop over to the shop on Etsy, or drop me a line to say hi.

Have a great day!


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