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Common silicate mineral that is distinguished from almost all other minerals by its extreme softness. Its soapy or greasy feel accounts for the name soapstone, given to compact aggregates of talc with other rock-forming minerals. Soapstones have been used since ancient times for carvings, ornaments, and utensils. Resistant to most reagents and to moderate heat, they are especially suitable for sinks and countertops. Talc is also used in lubricants, leather dressings, toilet and dusting powders, and certain marking pencils; as a filler in ceramics, paint, paper, roofing materials, plastic, and rubber; as a carrier in insecticides; and as a mild abrasive in the polishing of cereal grains.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on talc, visit Britannica.com.