#31  
Old 03-08-2012, 05:17 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

Bill,
$50/sq' IMO is robbery. I found a cabinet-maker who specializes in soapstone countertops willing to sell me cutoffs for $10/sq'. The three slabs pictured in my thread (OctoForno) cost me $200. If you are not successful finding reasonably-priced soapstone, you can always go to Harbison Walker (anhrefractories.com) and they have firebrick tiles (12"x24" I think). They are elegant. And of course, there's nothing wrong with standard firebricks.
John
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  #32  
Old 03-08-2012, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

I really like the idea of a one piece floor. I'll look around some more for cheaper. I was gonna search for your thread to see if you had pics........Thanks, Bill
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  #33  
Old 03-08-2012, 06:11 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

I got a quote for $22/sq ft for soapstone slab. Of course, that probably includes some waste. Still looking for cut-offs like John found. I am thinking a 4 piece floor, over my firebrick - if I can get for <$200

already spending enough on this thing...
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  #34  
Old 03-08-2012, 08:56 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

Just a thought, but I wonder how a hybrid oven floor would function. This could be any proportion you wish, but imagine, for instance, a round floor split somewhere down the middle (front to back) where the left side is firebrick and the right side is soapstone (or vice versa). It wouldn't matter to the fire if it sat on firebrick, and you get the benefit of the ideal soapstone pizza cooking surface for a reasonable investment.

Yeah, yeah, so I'm nuts... but it sure would look cool!
John
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  #35  
Old 03-09-2012, 02:23 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

Quote:
already spending enough on this thing...
I hear ya, DJO. I stopped by a steel company today that sells cutoffs to get a price for a piece (18"x26.5") of 10-gauge 316 restaurant-grade stainless steel for my entryway floor. To have it cut and two flanges bent 90* on the ends, I was quoted $142 (less tax). That comes out to $42.90/sq'.
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  #36  
Old 03-09-2012, 03:23 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by GianniFocaccia View Post
I hear ya, DJO. I stopped by a steel company today that sells cutoffs to get a price for a piece (18"x26.5") of 10-gauge 316 restaurant-grade stainless steel for my entryway floor. To have it cut and two flanges bent 90* on the ends, I was quoted $142 (less tax). That comes out to $42.90/sq'.
Everyone wants to be a millionaire.
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  #37  
Old 03-13-2012, 08:26 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

You can get big pieces of fire brick if your looking for less seams. They are really heavy but then you only have to put them down once.

-Mike
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  #38  
Old 03-14-2012, 04:03 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

Went to another Granite supplier.......$68/ft. YIKES!!!
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  #39  
Old 03-16-2012, 05:27 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

For anyone still thinking about buying soapstone to use as a hearth...

As you can see from the beginning of this thread, 2 years ago, I was a big fan of soapstone, but, over time, my feelings have changed. Dramatically. Soapstone is not a viable choice for use as a hearth in a wood fired oven.

Price

Soapstone is heavy and takes a lot of fuel to transport. The farther from the source, the more money is spent on fuel. It's also quarried in very few parts of the world. Here on the East Coast of the U.S., we get our soapstone from Brazil. In the U.S. very few distributors deal with the quarries directly. You have one or two wholesalers that take the stone off the boat and then many other smaller shops further inland. If you can deal with a distributor, the price tends to be reasonable ($10ish/sq. foot for remnants), but if you live further inland, you'll see a considerable markup. The wide disparity the members of the forum are seeing in prices isn't about honest/dishonest sellers, but geography/middlemen.

Even at the lowest price you can find ($10/sq. foot), it's still going to be more expensive than firebrick.

Conductivity

As has been previously discussed, soapstone's conductivity makes it less suitable for bread/pizza because the bottom tends to burn before the top. You can take steps to avoid this, but it's extra work. Soapstone's biggest strength is in settings where high hearth temps cannot be reached and dome temps/hearth temps are independently controlled (such as home ovens). For a WFO, a high enough hearth temp is rarely an issue.

Misidentification

Out of maybe 50 people that I know who have purchased soapstone for baking use, at least 10 were sold a different kind of stone and told it was soapstone. I've seen both granite and marble being passed off as soapstone. The wholesalers have no problem identifying it because it's all they deal with, but the smaller distributors, who deal with a much wider variety of stones, can frequently have identification issues. Add to this the fact that there are varieties of soapstone itself that are less suitable for oven use and you're complicating things even further. Marble and granite have extremely little resistance to thermal shock, making oven use a dangerous proposal. If someone's installing what they think is soapstone for a counter, but end up with marble, that's one thing, but using marble in a direct flame setting could have disastrous consequences.

Quality Control

Mother Nature has horrible quality control. When she deposits sediment over thousands of years, she's not thinking "how can I create a thermally durable material?" Even if you get lucky and get a 'real' piece of soapstone, it's still going to be a crap shoot. It can have visible or invisible fractures/weak points. It can have less conductive areas and more conductive ones. In Scandinavian countries, soapstone has a long history of oven use, so perhaps there's oven builders there that can look at stone and predict how it might stand up to oven use, but, for the rest of us, we're just rolling the dice.

So, summing up, stick to firebrick- an inexpensive, easy to identify, appropriately conductive (for a WFO) hearth material that's actually been engineered for direct flame use. The right tool for the job.
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Old 03-16-2012, 06:34 PM
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Default Re: Soapstone vs Firebrick ??

Soapstone a natural material and is a blend of different minerals and because of this soapstone can be veined, this veining is not ideal for a WFO. Soapstone is used in some pizzerias, some of these burn coal and cook pizza at uber-high temps 900F+.
That Soapstone is not ideal for pizza is not necessarily true.

Defining pizza is like defining motor vehicles, the breth of pizza is wide to say the least and so the ideal methods and tools for cooking are also wide. If you want to transfer WFO heat Soapstone is superb at doing this. Soapstone is stable under WFO heat and non-porous so it’s easy to clean and so it’s ideal for countertops. It’s dense and holds heat well so a smaller volume will hold more heat than a brick, high thermal mass.

I‘d love to have a soapstone floor in my oven, but I don’t. I tried a soapstone entry but aesthetically I was better with granite. I have to agree that cost can be a huge turnoff, especially for us home builders but like you pointed out, not always. Conductivity is reported to be a problem with bread, I’m not a volume baker so don’t know, but if I were I think learning and knowing the WFO and bread doughs would likely make the Soapstone floor a moot point. Misidentification is huge, and part of this is that Soapstone varies from fingernail soft to medium hard. Obviously granite and marble is not at all like soapstone and using it in a WFO would be a disaster.

I think it’s a very cool material and as long as you can get it at a good price and it’s fairly homogeneous, go for it. I’ve seen Soapstone firebricks, and like firebricks these can be replaced if needed.

I had a soapstone pizza stone in my home oven for 2 or more years and baked hearth bread on it weekly. It has some cracks it but it has never failed. I also need to point out that where the material cracked is where it is veined. If it was a floor in a WFO these cracks would be less significant than the brick joints in a normal floor. I also want to point out that the additional mass in my kitchen oven made cooking ox tails and other braised meats a snap.

If someone has access to it and the desire to use it, go for it..

Chris

Last edited by SCChris; 03-17-2012 at 06:29 AM.
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