Soapstone, also known as steatite, is a metamorphic rock. This means that it was created from other types of rock under pressure and at high temperature 500 million years ago. Soapstone is a soft rock, easy to carve and good to the touch. It tolerates temperatures up to 1,550°C, is frost proof and resistant to chemicals. Soapstone from Granit Kleber has a high talcum content. It is porous and heavy and has unusually good heat-retaining properties, making it nature's own wonder material.
In Norway, soapstone has been used for cooking vessels and household items for as long as people have been living in north Gudbrandsdal – since the early Iron Age. In the Stone Age, this very special stone was used to make clubs, picks and axes. It has also been used since the Bronze Age to make spindle and loom weights, fishing net weights and moulds. There have been finds of soapstone quarries that show that the Vikings used soapstone for cooking pots and other utilitarian items. Other finds have also shown that the Vikings used soapstone to heat their homes.
Carving soapstone pots directly out of the rock face was an important source of extra income for many. Soapstone began to be used for interior decoration in the thirteenth century, and many castles, churches and cathedrals have soapstone carvings.
Perhaps the best known is Nidaros Cathedral, which is entirely decorated with soapstone. Production of soapstone fireplaces began in Gudbrandsdal in the late seventeenth century. By the late nineteenth century, several companies had been founded in Otta for the manufacture of soapstone stoves and fireplaces.
AS Østlandske Stenexport bought out many of the soapstone producers in Otta from 1915 to 1918 and became the dominant manufacturer. In 1980, AS Østlandske Stenexport was bought by Granit Kleber AS. As with all types of stone, the quality of soapstone varies from place to place.
Our soapstone from quarries in Gudbrandsdal and Handöl in Sweden is of a special quality that is particularly suitable for stoves and fireplaces, something that has benefited many generations.