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If you don't oil your soapstone...

13 years ago

Do you mean you NEVER oiled? Or do you mean that after an initial period of oiling you were able to STOP oiling because the stone stayed dark enough for your liking on its own?

We have lots of samples here and finally picked a naturally darker harder soapstone and didn't plan to oil. But the fabricator is adamant that we need to oil, at least initially.

We love the unoiled soapstone and I thought that was the key to love it unoiled so you weren't a slave to oiling to have to keep it dark. But the grease spots are giving me pause and making me think we'd just need to oil and have black counters which would be sad since we really love the natural gray.

If you have NEVER oiled your stone (and it is lighter/natural state) what is the best way to remove grease spots? I was shocked how difficult it is to remove grease from soapstone which I understood wasn't supposed to absorb the grease, but that it just oxidizes on the surface? Either way Dawn didn't cut it. The only thing that has lessened the oil spots is just evaporation of the oil over time. But that is not a viable way to live, waiting for things to evaporate-my counters would never be clean.

What say you, soapstone sages...?

Comments (26)

  • 13 years ago

    I did try in the beginning to not oil with the thought of an ever evolving counter. I love old things with a patina but the spots got the best of me.

  • 13 years ago

    We've never oiled our soapstone. It's naturally fairly dark, more black than gray, I'd say (it's Beleza). Grease does make spots and streaks but a bit of spray cleaner and a microfiber cloth sweeps it right away. No scrubbing or anything like that.

    I've never quite understood how people who oil their soapstone actually clean it without removing the oil. Maybe I'm just messier than most but I feel the need to clean the counter regularly with some kind of cleanser to remove not just the oil spots but the various sticky spills I and my family make while cooking.

  • 13 years ago

    sw in austin wrote: "I've never quite understood how people who oil their soapstone actually clean it without removing the oil." That is exactly what I've wondered!! And another main reason why I didn't want to oil. (I don't want to reoil everytime I clean my counters.)

    sw in austin---I am interested in your experience since you've never oiled. How long have you lived with your counters? And may I ask what kind of spray cleaner you use? You are doing exactly as I hope to do, so I'd love any other tips.

    eandhl-I feel like I could be writing exactly what you wrote 6 months from now! I appreciate you confirming what I'm concerned about. Better to be prepared than disappointed.

    leela4-Thanks for posting, I think I remember your soapstone photos-the softer gray at Meta, right? (I'm in Portland, but had gotten that same sample from Meta and recognized it when you posted.) I'm interested in your experience bc I had ruled that stone out partly because-while it's probably my favorite tone/vein patterns-there was the most contrast between oiled and unoiled. I figured grease spots would show the worst on it...? I'm surprised but encouraged to hear that unoiled is still working for you. Yay! :)

  • 13 years ago

    I don't oil at all and only did so 2 x but that was back 4 1/2 yrs ago when it was first installed.. I have Green Mountain. In the area that is my baking counter the stone has gotten quite a uniform darkness due to constant use for baking/kneading etc. In the landing space next to the ovens the stone is not nearly as dark. If I put a pizza or roast chicken there and it drips on the stone I use Greased Lightning and the grease comes right off. On the baking counter since it has gotten so dark I never use anything but the dish cloth and you can't see any oil anyway so it doesn't matter. You will find that you might have a few small spots that stay a day or two but as the counters darken, and they will, you won't have any show and like I said the GL and a wipe takes it away. You can click on my page and see a million pics of mine in use in my photobucket acct. c

  • 13 years ago

    I've had mine for about two years and I oil it every 4-6 weeks or so. It stays pretty dark during that time, which I like. I have Julia with lots of green/emerald undertones, and the oiling makes them pop.

  • 13 years ago

    Oh. my. This topic is near and dear to my heart.

    I've had my stone in for 3? years now. Orginally, we planned to oil it, but realized we preferred the lighter color. What works really well is to clean the stone with soap and water, dry it, and then go over it again with a sponge and a squirt of Jet-Dry. Then rinse with fresh water and dry with a microfibre cloth. It takes a ton of work and only looks good until someone uses the kitchen. My stone really wants to be darker and I fight and fight to keep it light. Its really way too much of a hassle, and I should just let it go. But then, if I do let around the stove go dark, the areas underneath things, like the coffee pot and mixer are light.

    I like soapstone, but I don't think I would get it again. If I hadn't have spent so much on it I think I would be trying to find another countertop. Sigh.

  • 13 years ago

    I've had my black venata since May. It was initially oiled, I oiled it once, and waxed it . . . ?twice? before my family protested that they liked it better gray. And so do I. There is variation -- on the peninsula where we eat and do homework and hangout it has a bit more darker patina, but I like how it is different. In the hutch it is the lightest -- there's no skin or food contact there. As far as grease/oil -- it goes away within hours, or a day. Blends in so you don't see it. My special treatment is just plain old soap and water. Everyone who comes into the kitchen just raves about the counter and weirdly -- many people DRAPE there body over it. Weird.

    I love my SS and am so glad I chose it. Not oiling is not a problem.

  • 13 years ago

    Our SS was so light that few of the grains were apparent when it was first installed. Initially, I applied mineral oil which made the light green veins pop and I liked that look. However, over time, weekly mineral oil applications became a nuisance. I think it was Buehl who suggested using Clapham's Beeswax Salad Bowl Finish, which is a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil. I have applied Clapham's once every two or three months and think it gives a soft appearance that highlights the veins but still gives the natural, light feel of soapstone. Our soapstone is Grey Mist.

  • 13 years ago

    This is my SS 9 months after installation, and it looks just a bit darker now, 3.5 years in.

    It darkened really rapidly with no oil.
    This is how it looked as I was installing it; (yes, I DIY'd the SS to save money)

    I clean it with "Simple Green" degreaser, which bets rid of any oil spatters.

  • 13 years ago

    Apologies for not returning to this thread sooner and THANK YOU for the helpful feedback!

    trailrunner- I remember several photos of your kitchen in action (and your beautiful soapstone sinks) and know your kitchen sees heavy use, thank you for the tip on Greased Lightening. So the GL does NOT remove the built up patina/create lighter areas of stone, once the stone has darkened over time they'll stay dark?

    Marita- thank you Julia is one of the stones we'd considered, helpful to know your oiling schedule

    lightly starched and rjr220-how interesting that the two of you posted back to back with such opposite experiences! I am very worried about having a counter that looks dirty, and I bet your counters are gorgeous, but goodness L.S. I'm exhausted reading your clean up routine!

    rjr220-I thought black venata was one of the softer varieties, do you find the scratches show a lot if you're not oiling?

    nancyaustin-the oil/wax combo being a more long lasting alternative sounds attractive, but I'm wondering if the wax would change that lovely tactile feel of the soapstone? and again if cleaning up bacon splatter with a grease cutter of some kind, wouldn't it be more noticeable that I'm removing a waxed oil finish?

    sombreuil mongrel-I'm interested you confirmed that your stone darkened up nicely without oil yet you are still able to use the Simple Green to remove the grease spots? And the simple green doesn't create lighter spots? That sounds good!

  • 13 years ago

    Just a note about a friend with very light granite that wasn't sealed. This happened several years ago. Salad dressing over night on the granite left a stain. A poultice applied I think overnight then washed off. Granite was then sealed and never had another stain.

  • 13 years ago

    I've had soapstone for about a year and a half. I have Medium Minus - oiled a bit in the beginning, but like the lighter color better so I don't oil anymore. I don't even think about spots of any kind. My understanding is that soapstone is too dense for anything to actually penetrate the surface. So any kind of spot you might get should just wash off with soap and water or any cleaner.

    I don't have any spotting next to the stove or in the food prep area. I would guess you might get some darkening of the stone if you used it as Trailrunner does, to roll dough etc. frequently. Soapstone should be a pretty bullet proof surface.

    For those who oil, yes they are wiping off the oil when they clean, so you would need to keep oiling on a regular basis until your stone really darkened. A lot of people really like the dark, oiled or waxed look, so they keep going with that process.

  • 13 years ago

    Sorry not to have come back sooner to answer your questions to my earlier response.

    We've been using our Beleza counters for nearly two and a half years. As I said, we never oiled and I clean them with whatever spray cleaner I have under the sink -- usually something like Ecover or similar all-surface spray -- and a microfiber cloth. The microfiber seems to be the key to reduce streakiness.

    In my prep zone and around the range I get a lot of grease spots while I cook (I'm fairly messy) but wiping them away takes just a moment. Mostly the spots disappear on their own (unless I've spilled or splattered a lot of oil) or with a wipe of a damp sponge.

    The soapstone was one of the best decisions we made in the kitchen. I love the way it looks and it's as easy to take care of cleaning-wise as our old laminate, with no worries about setting hot pots or dishes on it.

  • 13 years ago

    Really, just like sw in austine -- one of the best decisions. Does it scratch? Yup. And within 24 hours, I can't see where it was scratched. My stone is really busy, so the little scratches just blend in. My son put a flat of water on it and pushed it the whole length of the counter last Sunday and I had bunches of micro scratches. Couldn't see them on Monday, just after wiping with soap and water.

    I am a low maintenance woman (I require many tubes of lipstick and many pairs of shoes, but other than that, I am non-foofy), so the soapstone fits me perfect. EVERYTONE who comes into my kitchen loves it.

  • 13 years ago

    It seems like for the most part your questions have been answered. In case you are still worried we usually tell our customers that would like to leave their Soapstone unoiled to keep a spray bottle of acetone or rubbing alcohol on hand. If and when you get grease or oil spots around your range/cooktop or where you tend to use the counters most you can spray a bit on to take the oil off. Hopefully this information helps!! And good luck with all your decision making!!

    Best Regards,

  • 13 years ago

    If you really want to keep your stone light, Bucks County Soapstone sells a product that you can apply to soapstone so it repels oil. It doesn't make the stone feel any different but it does keep it from going dark. I have no idea what's in it but I trust them 100% as they are THE soapstone experts, IMO.

  • 13 years ago

    Our soapstone was initially oiled by our fabricators, but I've never oiled it. It's naturally quite dark (Beleza), and I just clean it with some dish soap and water (or sometimes just plain water). I'm very minimalist/no fuss when it comes to a cleaning regimen. Anything more taxing than soap/water/occasional cleanser would just never get done.

  • 13 years ago

    Sorry just checking back..nope the patina is not lost when you use a spritz of GL. I hardly ever ever use it anyway as the ss never gets any spots that need to be removed. But when it has I have had no residual changes after using. Good Luck ! You will love it , scratches, patina, dings and all ! c

  • 13 years ago

    I have had soapstone counters for almost three years now, and I do prefer them darker. I oiled my counters regularly (weekly for the first two months, then monthly) for the first year, but I've only oiled about twice in the two years since then. It now stays pretty dark without re-oiling.

    I use a variety of cleaners on my oiled soapstone, and none of them seem to have much oil-removing effect. The ONLY thing that has left splotches that needed to be re-oiled has been Dawn dishwashing detergent. On occasion, something with Dawn on it has been set on the counter, and it has left an area where the oil was stripped a bit. One quick wipe with my oily cloth (I use the same cloth for oiling each time, and it stays in a ziplock bag between oilings) solves that problem.

    Regular countertop cleaners such as 409 and Lysol Kitchen have not stripped the oil at all. I have areas of counter that get these cleaners used on them several times a day and others where they are only used once a week or so at most. If the cleansers were stripping the oil, these areas would look quite different, but they do not.

  • 13 years ago

    Just thought I would add to this topic. I have Dark Julia soapstone countertops, so they are naturally darker - and I have never oiled them, don't intend to. About 1 year old.

    I clean dirt including grease spots off with a spray cleaner, usually Clorox's Green Works and wipe with paper towels. Sometimes the greasy spots will take 2 or 3 spray/cleans, but then so do some other spills too. And yup, these can be greasy stains/spills left overnight or longer.

    I will say that the naturally darker nature of my soapstone probably hides the greasy spills a bit better than some of the lighter stones I looked at.

  • 13 years ago

    Me again. We have a busy Christmas Eve Open House, and it was the big "premier" of the new kitchen (RAVES and wonderful to work in!). My DH wanted me to oil the SS so people could ohh and ahh over the dramatic veining. So I did apply a coat of the wax/oil combo that Joshua provided. Very interesting, this coat did not flash off as quickly as the initial coat I put on months ago -- I think it must be related to the patina it's developed over time.

    Once again, people draping their bodies over the peninsula. One of the more interesting reactions to it.

  • 13 years ago

    rjr220- LOL! I would LOVE to see pictures of guest draping themselves over your soapstone! Personally, I LOVE my Green Mountain PA that has been in for 3 years. Clean it with soap and water. Can't remember that last time I oiled it. No regrets!

  • 8 years ago

    Mary_in_nc can you post a pic of your unoiled pa soapstone?

  • 7 years ago

    We have soapstone countertops that is not honed and not oiled. Honing or polishing is the bigger issue with regards to "staining". Soapstone is very nonporous, so the oil stains cannot be soaked into the stone. However, depending on how polished the surface is, there are microvalleys (ie scratches) that will collect oil and thereby stain (this is no different than oil or wax on wood -- the oil/wax just levels up the valleys, making them a even darker "wet" hue. ) The less honed/polished surfaces has that lighter, drier look because the scratches reflect and scatter light. We like the blue-gray look of the unhoned, unoiled surface. But that being said, it is more susceptible to oil rings and spots. (Note that oiling or waxing doesn't remove or prevent these "stains" as much as staining the rest of the counter to match) HAVING SAID THAT: HERE"S THE SOLUTION: Baking Soda. Spray cleaning solution to wet then sprinkle baking soda generously on it -- spray the stain around only because if you spray a large area, it will all turn dark and you wont know where the stain was anymore! Let stand 10-15 minutes -- the wait is important because you are pretty much using the baking soda to wick and lift the oil out, then using a damp cloth (I use a microfiber cloth) scrub the baking soda paste around. Wipe off paste, rinse with clean damp cloth, wipe dry.

  • 2 years ago

    not sure I understand the fuss about germs in a sink. After all, you don't store food there or eat in it, and hot water is available--I have an antique soapstone sink, and regularly (about once every few years) oil it thoroughly with mineral oil. The purpose is to seal the sink, since soapstone is porous and will absorb stains, water, and look dreadful. wash the sink, let it dry totally, and then spread a hearty amount of mineral oil over it; sides, bottom, etc. Check to see if the caulk is still holding up. And let it sit for at least a day. wipe off any excess and that's it.