Soapstone is a dark bluish-gray rock, composed essentially of the mineral talc.
The stone is soft enough to be cut readily with a knife, or even with the thumb nail, and has a decided soapy feeling, hence its name.
Although so soft, this stone ranks amongst the most indestructible and lasting of rocks. At present its chief use is in the form of slabs about 1¼ inches thick, for stationary washtubs and sinks, for which it is one of the best materials. Soapstone also offers great resistance to heat, and is often used for lining fireplaces.
At one time it was extensively used in New England in the manufacture of heating stones. Considerable quantities of powdered soap-stone are used for making slate pencils and crayons, as a lubricant for certain kinds of machinery, and in the finishing coat on plastered walls.
The principal quarries producing block stone are situated in the States of New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania.
The State of North Carolina produces most of the powdered soap-stone, which is quarried in small pieces and ground in a mill.