Soapstone is identical or very similar to talc. In the antiques and curio trade the name is also "Shanghai Jade". Most often met with in the non flattering context of faking jade since it is soft to work with and lends itself perfectly to the processes of sculptural carving.
Geologically speaking, Soapstone is dense, close-grained, with practically no stratification or natural cleavage lines and has a high transverse strength and high resistance to crushing. It resists the tendency to split, flake, chip or spall, even under extreme temperatures. It is dense enough to be practically non-absorbent - tests have shown an absorption, by weight, of only a fraction of 1% of moisture.