Soapstone (steatite) is a magnesium silicate that was formed under great pressure and intense heat millions of years ago. There is nothing quite like soapstone as it possesses extraordinary heat retention and transfer properties. Unlike other natural stones such as granite and marble, which can also store and radiate heat, soapstone has such an unusually stable composition that it can withstand direct flames indefinitely and be subjected to great fluctuation in temperature with little expansion or contraction. Simply put, it stores and transfers heat better.
Although soapstone is a soft rock, it is not porous and has a solid structure that has amazing heat-retention properties. The practice of heating stone for its warmth retention qualities has been known for thousands of years. Stretching back to ancient times, man used heated stones to keep warm and to cook food. Now, Greenstoneheat combines this long-known practice with state of the art engineering, technology and design to bring you the finest heating source in the world… a soapstone masonry heater.
Many of our customers ask what makes a Greenstoneheat masonry heater so special and so different from traditional wood stoves, even those wrapped in soapstone. The answer is in the masonry heater’s mass, or weight. Soapstone holds twice as much heat per pound as iron or steel. An iron wood stove weighs a couple hundred pounds, more or less. A masonry heater weighs thousands of pounds, generally more than less. In it, a brisk, hot fire is burned once or twice a day. The heat from the fire is transferred to soapstone itself where it is gradually released into the surrounding area, a steady radiant heat. Instead of heating the air directly, the radiation warms the solid surfaces in the room and will even pass through walls and warm adjacent rooms. Long after your fire has died down the soapstone masonry heater keeps on radiating heat. Following is a chart that compares the properties of different materials which can be incorporated into masonry heater installations.