My husband Guy’s mother, Carol (Walker) Herman, gave us an old soapstone bed warmer with a note that she and her siblings used it while growing up from about 1910-1930 near Glidden, Iowa.
She said that it was heated on a potbellied parlor stove and wrapped in newspapers and carried to bed.
Soapstone warmers were popular in the mid-1800s and were also used to warm feet for those who rode in a sleigh or buggy during the winter.
What is soapstone? In its purest form, it is talc, the same stone used to make baby powder. Talc gives the stone the characteristic greasy feel for which it is named. Based on the percentage of talc in the stone it could be used for a variety of things.
Its heat conductivity made it popular. The stone is so dense that it retains and radiates heat. Unlike most metals, soapstone releases heat very slowly. Soapstone, with its density, can also be reheated over and over without cracking like other metals.
Guy’s mother still lives on the family farm. She’ll be 99 in September!
My dad used a soapstone as a “pencil,” marking his story poles while laying brick.
J.D. Wininger said something about marking where he wanted to cut steel. Same thing?
It’s good she included a bit of story with this. I had not heard of this sort of bed warmer before.
I hadn’t either. Makes me wonder what else she still has in the attic, which I thought she’d cleaned out decades ago!
I hadn’t heard of this type of bed warmer either. I would never have guessed what it was.
It’s a good thing she taped a note to it!
Another fabulous family treasure!
What to do with the thing! ha
It doesn’t exactly cry out to be displayed on the mantlepiece, does it?
That about Guy’s mother–wow!
I did not know any of this about soapstone bed warmers. I knew my grandmother and her sisters used their brothers as foot warmers in their bed haha The girls slept regular and the boys were across the bed at their feet. And I knew about warm potatoes from reading Little House on the Prairie :).
I’d certainly never seen one!