Soapstone, or pyrophyllite, is a metamorfic rock largely composed of talc and varying degrees of chlorite and amphiboles. Its colour ranges from different shades of grey to greenish. Soapstone is relatively soft and the surface may feel soapy, thus the name ”soapstone”.

Soapstone resources in Finland

There are several soapstone resources in Finland, the largest of which are in Juuka and in Nunnanlahti. In Nunnanlahti the mining of soapstone started as early as 1893, based on the explorations of geologist Benjamin Frosterus.

Soapstone can also be found in Savonranta and Polvijärvi.
Nowadays soapstone is mostly used as a construction material. It is suited for nearly all indoor structures, and being weatherproof, also for most of those outdoors. Soapstone is, however, a relatively soft rock. For this reason, it is not suitable on surfaces under heavy wear, such as stairs or floors, nor can it be polished. Soapstone is a high density stone and thus suitable for bathrooms etc. It also stands well acids and alkalis.

Soapstone is used in sauna stoves, as the surface and inner material in ovens and fireplaces and as a wall cladding material. It is used in gift and consumer goods as well. Earlier it has been used in the manufacture of gravestones, panels and sodaoven bricks in the pulp and paper industry. It has served as an insulation material as well. It has also been widely used in crafting reliefs and in sculpture. It was already used in the prehictoric era in casts for metallic items.