Not all granite countertops are the same. Some will come ready sealed with non-environmentally friendly sealants. And in certain cases, granite may emit radon gas (usually not to dangerous levels, but to differing degrees).
If you have a granite countertop in your sustainable kitchen, you will also need to think about how you keep it clean, maintain, and preserve it over time. In this article, we will discuss some green and eco-friendly ways to seal granite countertops that you could consider, and eco-friendly and sustainable ways to clean your granite countertops.
Green and Eco-Friendly Ways To Seal Granite Countertops
One important thing to understand about granite countertops is that some will be easier to use and more practical than others. Those that are not ready sealed will be more eco-friendly, but will often require sealant in order to make them practical in a kitchen setting. Some granite countertops will require a sealant, which will usually have to be reapplied every 2-3 years. But some will not require any sealant at all.
Granite is a porous stone, but the degree of porosity can vary. Some denser granites will not absorb as much, while others definitely need to be sealed or they will be marked and marred very quickly in a kitchen that it in daily use.
If you have a choice, your best option will often be to choose a type of granite that does not require a sealant at all.
In order to determine whether or not you need to seal your natural, unsealed and unglossy granite countertop, pour some water onto the surface. Leave the pool of water for around ten minutes, then wipe it away. If the water leaves a dark mark on the granite, then it will need to be sealed (or the sealant already on it will need to be replaced. If the water has not left a dark mark then sealant is not required.
If you do require a sealant, the problem is that many products usually used are not eco-friendly, and may emit high levels of VOCs. Choose the wrong sealant and it could off-gas toxic compounds into your home for a long time to come.
There are two main types of sealant that are used to seal porous stone – penetrating sealants, which impregnate the stone and keep away oil and water, and topical sealants, which coat the surface. Often, the ingredients for these sealants are derived from fossil fuels – and should be avoided if possible in a sustainable home.
If you must choose a synthetic sealant, then try to opt for a water-based one with VOCs that are as low as possible. But consider choosing a more natural and healthy option. For example, walnut oil can work very well for sealing non-glossy granite, especially when used with natural beeswax or another natural and eco-friendly wax.