Steatite – “a surprising mineral”
Steatite is a relatively soft, metamorphic rock mainly composed of the minerals Talc and magnesite. Metamorphic means the rock`s features were changed due to pressure and temperature within the earth`s crust while its solid state is still retained.
Steatite is considered as relatively soft compared to other minerals. While diamonds have a hardness grade of 10, steatite has a hardness grade of 1 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
Its is not the case, that every steatite is equally hard or soft. Steatite is capable of being as hard as needed to build an oven as well as soft enough to be scratched with fingernails.
Steatite has been used for sculpturing and crafting for more than 2000 years. Vessels dating back 2000 years B.C were found as well as ancient sculptures made of steatite.
Another great feature of steatite is its diversity in colouring, caused by different entrapments of other minerals such as serpentine, micaceous or chlorite. Common colour variants are: white, violet, pink, green, grey, black, yellow and blue. Those colourings occur in different gradation, sometimes making it hard to say which colour a steatite actually has.
Especially marbled steatite is very expressive. Due to surprisingly hard entrapments, working on marbled steatite can bear problems as we are not able to look “inside” the stone.
Pulverized steatite is called talcum powder and is often used in cosmetics. In its original, untreated state steatite has a slightly soapy texture. This is the reason steatite is sometimes called soapstone or soaprock.
Steatite is insensitive to temperature fluctuation while being a great heat conductor and storer, making it comfortable to wear next to the skin.
Occurrence and mining
Steatite is mainly mined in europe, china and the U.S representing more than ⅔ of the world wide production. Other important occurrences can be found in Afrika, brazil, france, finnland, india and Russia.
Depending on the origin of the steatite the processing and the use as well as the quality differs. Steatite from the northern hemisphere is considered harder and is mainly used for floors, walls and ovens. Steatite from Brazil is often very hard and therefore used for crafting ovens. Central european statite is often pulverized and mixed with ceramics for insulations.
Most of the steatite we use for StoneSoft’s art is from china, australia, india and brazil. All the steatite we use is certified to be clean of asbestic!
If you have any further questions about the materials we use, don’t hesitate contacting us!