Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that consists primarily of talc with varying amounts of other minerals such as micas, chlorite, and amphiboles. As a result, the physical properties of the soapstone can vary from quarry to quarry and even within a single rock unit. It is a soft, dense, heat resistant rock that has a high specific heat capacity.
The people of Scandinavia began using soapstone during the Stone Age, and it helped them enter the Bronze Age when they discovered that it could be easily carved into molds for casting metal objects such as knife blades and spearheads. They were among the first to discover the ability of soapstone to absorb heat and radiate it slowly. That discovery inspired them to make soapstone cooking pots, bowls, cooking slabs, and hearth liners.
Soapstone is often used as an alternative natural stone countertop instead of granite or marble. In laboratories, it is unaffected by acids and alkalis. In kitchens, it is not stained or altered by tomatoes, wine, vinegar, grape juice, and other common food items. Soapstone is unaffected by heat. Hot pots can be placed directly on it without fear of melting, burning, or other damage.