If you’ve done any homework at all on how to properly care for your natural stone, one of the first things you probably learned was that certain types of stone (marble, limestone, onyx, among others) are susceptible to damage from acidic substances.

The culprits most commonly cited include fruit juices, alcohol, tomatoes, pasta sauce and vinegar (which are in the 2.0 to 3.0 pH level range). But there are other common foodstuffs with a pH value that classifies them as acidic (below 7 pH) that might surprise you. Here are just a few examples and their pH values:

  • Honey (3.9)
  • Butter (6.1 – 6.4)
  • Wheat Flour (5.5 – 6.5)
  • Peas (5.8 – 6.4)
  • Pumpkin (4.9 – 5.5)
  • Sweet Potatoes (5.3 – 5.6)
  • Sugar (5 – 6)
  • Molasses (5 – 5.5)

Some of these are only considered mildly acidic and may or may not cause damage, since the specific composition of your particular stone will determine how susceptible to acids it is. Likewise, the duration and extent of exposure will impact the degree of damage if any. Still, as they say, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ That’s why we offer these recommendations to help you avoid etching from both known and unexpected causes:

  1. Know your stone so you can anticipate and head off potential difficulties and care for its specific needs effectively.
  2. Use coasters under drinks and cutting boards for preparations.
  3. Pour and measure over the sink (or over a bowl or other container that will catch and hold spills) and wipe the outside of bottles, measuring cups etc. before setting them down.
  4. Wipe up spills immediately. The longer spills remain on the surface, the more likely they are to etch your stone and the deeper the stone will be etched. Don’t put it off.

If your stone does become etched, it can be repaired. You may even be able to do it yourself if the damage is light (download our Stone and Tile Care Guide for more information). If the damage is more extensive (either in depth or surface coverage), it’s best to let a trained stone restoration professional handle it. We are always here to answer any questions and find the right solutions for you.

This is one of a series of articles written and published  on behalf of Stone and Tile PRO Partners.