Old 05-27-2011, 10:03 PM
lwood's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: philippines
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Default Re: Soapstone Hearth

Hi John,
I'm interested in how the soapstone performs. Soapstone has a higher thermal conductivity than firebrick but about the same heat capacity. Given that, it should give you a better oven pop than firebrick. Or lighter, fluffier crumb. Does it brown the bottom faster, don't know(that would not really be a good thing). Will be interested in your comments after you have used it a while. I am planning soapstone on my next oven.
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Old 05-28-2011, 02:42 AM
david s's Avatar
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Location: Townsville, Nth Queensland,Australia
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Default Re: Soapstone Hearth

Soapstone is very soft. In fact it is the softest rock, it is easy to carve and sand. The resulting powder from the sandings is talc. Another name for soapstone is talcstone. Rub a little into your armpits. I don't know how it will go over time, but I would think it will wear away considerably, being so soft. Have heard of its use as a cooking surface in oven floors many times so it must be ok.
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Old 05-28-2011, 11:44 AM
GianniFocaccia's Avatar
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Default Re: Soapstone Hearth


I too am intrigued with soapstone's cooking properties and durability. My initial attraction to it was because my firebricks were unsuitable for a floor (neither square nor flat) and that I found a cabinetmaker willing to part with his cutoffs for $10/sq'. I also am the type to experiment, and the soapstone is one of several non-traditional (for home WFO's) elements going into my oven build.

Will it be suitable for bread? That is the number one question on my list: Does it's increased conductivity over traditional firebrick translate to faster bottom cooking than the dome can match? Jay (Texassourdough) says to let your oven equalize and come to the proper floor temp and you're good to go. Worst case scenario, if the bottoms are overcooked, next batch I use screens or some other diffusing material. I am open to testing and will certainly report my findings for all. Of course for pizza and flatbreads, it is considered optimal.

Will it hold up? The polished top scratched very easily during fitting and I'm afraid cast iron pots and oven tools may take their toll on it over time. Still, I am intrigued with how the floor will act as a heating element, both with a fire going and residual. I am a fan of casseroles (can you say lasagne?) as well as braised meats and pots of beans so I'm wondering if the soapstone will release it's heat faster/same as/slower than firebrick with the door on. Unfortunately, I won't have anything to compare it to, but I won't have anything to report until I get the damn oven finished!

There is a 2 1/2" firebrick subfloor underneath the soapstone, and I am equally curious to find out how fast the entire mass heat-loads during firing and the curve it gives up its heat. Again, with nothing to compare it to and no thermocouples, it is what it is, and all I can do is report what my IR thermometer reads both at the dome and the floor.


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