Talc is a white, gray or greenish soft mineral with a greasy feel. It is a silicate of magnesia. An impure form of talc is soapstone.
Crystal system: Either monoclinic or triclinic
Soapstone is used for inlaid designs, sculpture, coasters, and counter tops and sinks. In the 19th century, in the areas of northeast Georgia, particularly around Cleveland and Dahlonega, soapstone was quarried to make what was called “slot & tab” tombs. This was a common material used in this area at the time due to its abundance, ease of working and due to concerns over wandering livestock and people who might step on the soft ground where their loved ones were lain. To prevent this type of desecration, the grave was often covered with a slab or small structure, such as the slot & tab tomb over the grave.
It has been found that the early Native American’s used the soapstone to make bowls, fetishes, smoking pipes and weapons.
Today, soapstone is used by metal fabricators, welders, and other jobs where it is required to mark a material that is going to be exposed to high heat as it is resistant to the heat. Tailors and seamstresses, carpenters and other trades used the soapstone as a marking implement as it was not a permanent mark and could be easily removed.
Because of its thermal properties though, “cold stones” have been made from the soapstone because it could be used to keep a beverage cold without watering down the drinks. It was also used by the early settlers to use as a boiling rock where they would put the stone in the fire until it was hot and then drop it into the stew pot to heat it up.