Soapstone, also known as steatite and oil stone, is found in many countries all over the world. The dark grey or green metamorphic rock is composed of 40 to 50 per cent talc and 40 to 50 per cent magnetite. Soapstone is 10 times softer than diamond; however, soapstone is still very hard yet malleable and is used in a wide range of artistic and architectural applications. The stone feels like a dry bar of soap, thus the name. You can find soapstone at many local distributors in the U.S.
Soapstone comes mostly from Brazil, China and India. However, it is also found in Australia and Canada as well as Germany, Finland, England, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. Soapstone from different countries has many varied properties and is chosen according to these qualities, such as hardness. Most of the soapstone sold in the U.S. comes from Brazil. The soapstone is extracted from two regions in Brazil: the Goias and Mariana areas.
Soapstone is found in North Carolina where quarries have existed since the late 1800s. According to the Prescott Stone website, the quarry in North Carolina is the only active soapstone quarry in the U.S. Soapstone has been used in early America and made into a variety of products, such as countertops, sinks and washtubs.
When shopping for soapstone, where you find it depends on whether it is for architectural or artistic purposes. Artistic soapstone is too soft for construction and is used in making sculptures, ornaments, other art pieces and for jewellery making while architectural-grade soapstone is used for sinks, countertops, tubs, showers, islands, fireplaces, flooring and pizza ovens. Architectural soapstone can be found nationwide, in the U.S., and large suppliers are found in New York, San Francisco, Denver, Los Angles, Tampa and Houston. Additionally, architectural soapstone can be found online and shipped nationwide. Artistic soapstone suppliers can be found in California, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida and New York, and suppliers can be found online. Artistic soapstone can also be purchased through suppliers in Canada.