Soapstone has been a staple in labs for ages, because it is extremely durable and impervious to virtually all chemicals. As a kitchen countertop it offers the same benefits, plus a distinctive look. Since it is non-porous and chemically- and temperature-neutral, it is resistant to staining and scorching. It can be left to age naturally or sealed for a darker, richer look. Expect to pay $50 and up per square foot.