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SOAPSTONE.

By Edward W. Parker.

Occurrence.

Soapstone or talc is found in nearly every State along the Atlantic Slope, the principal deposits being in New York and North Carolina, though it is also quarried in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. It has also been reported in some of the Western States, particularly in California, Arizona, South Dakota, and Texas, but no commercial product has been obtained west of the Mississippi River. Pure soapstone is a massive amorphous mineral, usually white, light green, or gray in color. In some cases, notably at Gouverneur, St. Lawrence County, N. Y., it occurs in a foliated or fibrous form, very valuable as a filler or makeweight in the manufacture of paper. This latter variety, known as fibrous talc or mineral pulp, is considered separately these reports.

Uses.

The aboriginal inhabitants of North America recognized soapstone as a valuable mineral. Its resistance to heat and the ease with which it could be worked into desirable shapes, even with the crude implements at their command, made the manufacture of cooking utensils from soapstone one of their few industrial occupations. Tobacco pipes and articles used in their religious ceremonies were also made of soapstone, and traces of their handiwork are still found in the vicinity of soapstone deposits. The uses to which soapstone is applied to-day are very numerous, though in the light of present knowledge the development of the industry seems to have been exceedingly slow. It makes a more durable and satisfactory lining for cooking stoves, heaters, and furnaces than ordinary fire brick. Soapstone does not absorb grease or acids, and is not affected by the ordinary chemical agents, and is as impervious to extreme cold as to heat, making it especially valuable for sinks, etc., in chemical laboratories. Laundry tubs, hearths, mantels, and stove griddles are produced from soapstone, and the readiness with which all dirt and impurities are removed make it popular with housekeepers. The manufacture of slate pencils from soapstone is an industry as old as the manufacture of slates. Ground soapstone is used chiefly as a makeweight in paper manufacture, but it is also used as a base for pigments and cosmetics, as an adulterant in soap and rubber, for dressing skins and leather, and for lubricating.

Production.


The amount of soapstone produced in the United States in 1894 was 23,144 short tons, valued at $401,325, against 21,071 short tons, worth $255,067, in 1893. The increase in production was in the amounts sawed into slabs, and ground. The production of manufactured articles decreased slightly, but the value of the products shows a gain of over $110,000, or over 40 per cent.

Following is a statement of the production of soapstone (exclusive of fibrous talc and soapstone ground for paint) in 1893 and 1894, showing the amount and value of the different conditions in which it was marketed:

Production of soapstone in 1893 and 1894.

Condition in which marketed

1893

1894

Rough

5.760

$51,600

5,620

$50,780

Sawed into slabs

104

4,400

1,303

19,50

Manufactured articles (a)

7,070

123,600

6,425

244,000

Ground (b)

8,137

75,467

9,796

87,045

Total

21,071

$255,067

23,144

$401,325

a Includes bath and laundry tubs; fire brick for stoves, heaters, etc.; hearthstones, mantles, sinks, griddles, slate pencils, and numerous other articles of everyday use.

b For foundry facings, paper making, lubricators, dressing skins and leather, etc.

c Exclusive of the amount used for pigment, which is included among mineral paints.

In the following table is shown the amount and value of soapstone produced in the United States since 1880:

Annual product of soapstone since 1880.

Years

Quantity

Value

Years

Quantity

Value


Short tons



Short tons


1880

8,441

$66,665

1888

15,000

$250,000

1881

7,000

75,000

1889

12,715

231,708

1882

6,000

90,000

1890

13,670

252,309

1883

8,000

150,000

1891

16,514

243,981

1884

10,000

200,000

1892

23,208

423,440

1885

10,000

200,000

1893

21,070

255,067

1886

12,000

225,000

1894

23,144

401,325

1887

12,000

225,000





FIBROUS TALC.


The supply of this variety of soapstone is obtained only at Gouverneur, St. Lawrence County, N. Y. The entire output is ground and used almost exclusively as a filler in the manufacture of the medium grades of paper. The product in 1894 was 39,906 short tons, valued at $435,060, an increase as compared with 1893, of 4,045 short tons in quantity and $31,624 in value. The largest output was in 1891, when the produce was 53,054 short tons, valued at $493,068. The annual production since 1880 has been as follows:


Annual product of fibrous talc since 1880.

Years

Quantity

Value

Years

Quantity

Value


Short tons



Short tons


1880

4,210

$54,730

1888

a 20,000

$210,000

1881

a 7,000

60,000

1889

23,746

244,170

1882

a 6,000

75,000

1890

53,054

493,068

1883

a 6,000

75,000

1891

53,054

493,068

1884

a 10,000

110,000

1892

41,925

472,485

1885

a 10,000

110,000

1893

35,801

403,436

1886

a 12,000

125,000

1894

39,906

435,060

1887

a 15,000

225,000




a Estimated.


Talc imported into the United States from 1880 to 1894, inclusive.

Years

Quantity

Value

Years

Quantity

Value


Short tons



Short tons


1880

-----

$22,807

1888

24,165

$22,446

1881

-----

7,331

1889

19,229

30,993

1882

-----

25,641

1890

1,044

1,560

1883

-----

14,607

1891

81

1,212

1884

-----

41,165

1892

531

5,546

1885

-----

24,356

1893

1,360

12,825

1886

-----

24,514

1884

622

6,815

1887

(a)

49,250




a Quantity not reported previous to 1888..



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