Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed primarily of talc which over millions of years has been transformed through the geological effects of intense heat and pressure. It is extremely dense and therefore durable and stable. One of the earliest uses of soapstone was for cooking pots because it holds and radiates heat for long periods of time. A hot pot can be placed directly on a soapstone countertop without concern of damaging the surface. Soapstone slabs are great for use as countertops or as fireplace surrounds. Since it is composed primarily of talc, the acids in foods used for everyday cooking will not etch or stain the surface. Soapstone is relatively soft and can scratch, so using a cutting board is required. The patina of the stone can be enhanced by using mineral oil.