Soapstone | Gemopedia

Soapstone, also known as steatite, refers to compact masses of talc and other minerals known for their soapy or greasy texture. Due to its softness, it has been used since ancient times for carvings, ornaments and utensils.
Alternate
Names
Steatite, Talc
Colors
White, Gray, Yellowish, Brown, Light To Dark Green, Reddish

Soapstone Classification

Common Name

Soapstone

Species

Talc

Variety

Colors

White, Gray, Yellowish, Brown, Light To Dark Green, Reddish

Alternate Names

Steatite, Talc

Gemstone Groups

Key Separations

Appearance, poor surface quality, RI and SG

Comments

Misnomers: Fukien jade, Manchurian jade

Soapstone Optical Properties

Transparency

Semitranslucent - Opaque

Refractive Index

1.54-1.59
Tolerance:(+0.010/-0.002)

Birefringence

0.046-0.05

Optic Character

Biaxial

Optic Sign

Negative

Polariscope Reaction

Aggregate (AGG)

Fluorescence

SWUV: Inert
LWUV: Inert to weak pink

CCF Reaction

Pleochroism

None

Dispersion

Strength: none

Comments

Soapstone Chemistry & Crystallography

Chemical Name

magnesium silicate hydroxide

Chemical Formula

Mg3Si4O10(OH)2

Synthesis

Crystal System

Monoclinic

Classification

Silicate

Nature

Natural

Crystallinity

Polycrystalline

Comments

Soapstone Characteristic Physical Properties

Hardness

1-2.5

Streak

White

Specific Gravity

2.2-2.8 Typical:2.75

Toughness

Poor

Inclusions

Soapstone is often veined or mottled in appearance and are greasy or soapy to touch. Stones are very soft can be scratched with a fingernail and might show surface damage.

Luster

Waxy

Stability

Fracture

Uneven

Cleavage

Perfect, in one direction

Comments

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