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soapstone or steatite (stēˈətĪt) [key], metamorphic rock of which the characteristic and usually chief mineral is talc, but which also contains varying parts of chlorite, mica, tremolite, quartz, magnetite, and iron compounds. It is gray to green in color, has a soapy feel, and is notable for its high degree of resistance to acids and heat. It is so soft that it can be easily cut with a knife or other sharp tool, making it a popular material for sculpting. The chief deposits of commercial importance are in the United States, Norway, and Canada. It is used in the manufacture of laboratory table tops, kitchen sinks, laundry tubs, furnace linings, and electrical apparatus.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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