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?Soapstone - a form of metamorphic rock containing magnesium, dolomite and talc - is so-called because touching its surface produces a tactile sensation that is remarkably similar to that of a dry bar of soap. Geologically, it is related to marble, which has long been valued as a surface in homes and buildings dating back to the Hellenistic Period. Unlike marble however, soapstone countertops are easier to care for and cost less than marble surfaces. The scientific name for soapstone is steatite. Like quartz, marble and even diamond, the material from which Soapstone Countertops begins its existence deep beneath the planet's surface. There, it is subject to pressures and heat of unimaginable magnitude. Under these pressures, this proto-rock is transformed, or morphed into what we know as soapstone. The material that goes into the design and construction of soapstone is generally dug from quarries, extracted from geologic formations that date back as much as 400 million years. Since the eastern part of North America is far older geologically than the relatively youthful western part, American and Canadian soapstone is found primarily in Quebec, New England and the Maritime provinces. Soapstone is relatively soft and easy to work with, yet is durable enough to stand up to a fair amount of abuse. Aboriginal peoples throughout the world, including Native Americans, Polynesians and various African peoples have known of the unique properties of soapstone for millennia, using it for cookware and even art. In fact, there are Hindu temples located in a southeastern region of India that contain highly elaborate carvings made from soapstone. Why should you consider soapstone countertops? If you know a great deal of cooking, you no doubt are aware of the kind of abuse that countertops must endure, especially when it comes to stains. In fact, soapstone - unlike its geologic cousin, marble - is chemically inert, and will not react with acidic nor alkaline substances. What this means is that virtually nothing you spill on it will cause permanent staining - simply wipe it off or remove it from the surface with a bit of fine sandpaper, and it's good as new! Soapstone Countertops also offer great aesthetic value; it is what is known as a schist, meaning it has a grained appearance like wood and marble. There are many different colors, types and treatments for soapstone countertops; you will have few problems finding soapstone that will blend in nicely with any color scheme or décor. Soapstone offers versatility, durability, ease of care and a unique kind of beauty. Soapstone countertops are one of the best and ultimately, most economical ways to upgrade your kitchen; check out the many options available today!
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