When it comes to selecting countertop materials for kitchens or bathrooms, it’s impossible to go wrong with marble, at least in terms of aesthetics. Like with many other gifts created by nature, there’s a certain irony associated with marble in the sense that its unique appearance is the result of intense tectonic processes that last millions of years, and yet it can be damaged by something as seemingly harmless as toothpaste. The damage may not be destructive, but it can alter marble’s gorgeous appearance, which is a real concern for homeowners who choose marble for their bathroom counters. However, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Understanding why toothpaste may be harmful to marble can go a long way in terms of understanding how to care for this natural stone.
Marble and Its Metamorphic Nature
About 12 percent of the Earth’s crust is made up of metamorphic rocks like marble, which at one point in its geological life was limestone that eventually metamorphosed into a different mineral composition. Nothing can take away the metamorphic characteristic of marble. Just because it’s extracted from quarries and cut into slabs and tiles doesn’t mean it’ll stop chemically reacting when it comes into contact with certain substances.
The Acidity of Toothpaste
The reason toothpaste can create a chemical reaction within marble is related to its pH level, which can be as low as 5.5 and may run higher than 7. Fluoride is the most acidic ingredient of toothpaste. Even though fluoride doesn’t damage tooth enamel, it may change the appearance of marble because this stone is naturally disposed to react to substances that aren’t pH neutral. The calcium carbonate that bonds marble minerals can react with toothpaste by dissolving.
Staining and Etching
Not all toothpastes will damage marble. Those that are pH neutral can be deemed safe enough. All other toothpastes running higher or lower than 7 on the pH scale may cause staining or even etching, the latter being an issue that may require professional stone restoration. Most stains can be removed from marble, but etching tends to be more stubborn since it causes spots that look like they’re floating just below the stone surface.
Sealing Marble and Keeping Toothpaste Away
As long as marble is frequently cleaned and sealed, toothpaste shouldn’t be a major concern. The protective seal permeates marble pores, thus preventing substances from seeping and eventually etching. If you don’t know how to seal natural stone such as marble, it’s easy to do by using Granite Gold Sealer®. After cleaning the stone’s surface with Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®, spray the sealer on the stone in 3-foot sections, immediately wiping it into the stone with a lint-free cloth to prevent hazing. Then, buff dry with another lint-free cloth.
Since toothpaste is normally kept on top of counters, it makes sense to get a decorative tray to prevent direct contact with marble. Should there be an accidental toothpaste spill, it should be wiped immediately with a marble and granite countertop cleaner.
If you’d like to learn more about caring for marble and other types of natural stone such as granite, limestone, and travertine, reach out to the Stone Care Experts at Granite Gold®. Call us at 1-800-475-STONE (7866) if you have any questions, and sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly tips on how to properly maintain natural stone and quartz.