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Soapstone otherwise called as steatite and is softest of all the naturally occurring minerals found on Earth. This is formed by deposits of talc combined with other minerals by a process called metamorphosis. Soapstone contains high proportion of talc and often feels soapy when touched and so is the name. The word soapstone is derived from Brazilian word “pedra-sabao”. The use of soapstone was known even from the beginning of 17th century and was found Minas Geris and was considered as precious as precious stones and gold. Soap stone also contains minerals magnetite, dolomite, mica, quartz, tremolite and chlorite other than talc.
Handmade Soap Stone Utensils
It is also said that soap stone was in use 300 to 400 millions of years before and in the 18th century artisans began sculpting sculptures out of soapstone and they also used the same mineral to create household articles and mainly kitchen utensils. The first soapstone pans and pots were created by artisans of Ouro Preto. Soapstones were used during Ming Dynasty to carve utensils like plates and teapots. These utensils are still used in modern and traditional kitchens. In India the use of soapstone utensils are known even before 3rd century B.C. and are still used for religious purposes in temples and houses.
The main advantage of cooking in soapstone utensils is that they are good insulators and they can retain heat for longer compared to other clay or metal utensils. Preparing beans, soups, stews or anything that need to be cooked slowly and for longer period can be cooked in soapstone and the flavor is also retained for longer. The only thing that should be kept in mind while cooking in soapstone is that it should never be heated empty and should never be kept in the refrigerator directly when it is hot. It should be brought to room temperature before it is kept in the refrigerator. Cleaning soapstone utensils are also easy and it doesn’t need heavy scrubbing. It can be washed with detergent and a sponge and washed in mild warm water.
Soapstone utensils inspite of their hardiness, exquisiteness and efficacy, it is inexpensive and available everywhere throughout the world and is preferred by many. Now-a-days mixing bowls, large cooking vessels and cooking plates and tops are manufactured from soapstone and can be used in grills and oven. Every soapstone utensil is handmade and shows the excellence of workmanship.