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October Soap Challenge Club: Ghost Swirls

The Goal

Ghost swirl soap

Amy Warden's Soap Challenge Club Beginner Category: The entire soap must be made with cold process or cold process/oven process featuring a ghost swirl (swirl not required), plus:

  • All oils are masterbatched and may or may not have color added (no other additives).  Any color that is added must be mixed into the oils before dividing them out. 
  • Fragrance is optional, but should be equally proportioned into each part of the oils.
  • Water is the only liquid used for the lye solution, with the optional addition of sodium lactate only.
  • Only two different lye solution strengths are used to create a contrasting design, but they do not have to be equal parts.

The original ghost swirl technique was documented in 2015 by Clara Lindberg of Auntie Clara's Handcrafted Cosmetics.


I created the whole batch in SoapMaker 3 (SM3), and split off both for each lye solution calculation in SM3. To be safe, I also ran the calculation through soapcalc. I kept the two lye strength covered and labelled with a natural coffee filter. I weighed each lye solution after initial mixing, and then after the solution cooled. I did the measuring and prep with 0.5% Sodium lactate 60% from Wholesale Supplies Plus (WSP) to aid with removal from the mold. Temps were 74-78 F lye/oils.

Recipe & Process

  • 45% Olive Oil
  • 22% Coconut Oil
  • 22% Palm Oil
  • 8% Sweet Almond Oil
  • 3% Castor Oil
  • 5% Superfat
  • 25% Lye Strength & 40% Lye Strength

  • Color: Only one was allowed, so I leaned into Halloween and Ghost Swirls and chose a colorant new to me: Glow in the Dark Pigment from Nurture Soap.

    Fragrance: Champagne Kisses a champagne-scented fragrance oil from WSP. I specifically chose the color which discolor to light yellow, which would match with the colorant's daylight shade.

    "Sparkling bubbles of crisp champagne are delightfully blended with tangy grapefruit, champagne grapes and deep plum."

    I pre-mixed my 3g colorant with 9g sweet almond oil and added it to the oils. I mixed Champagne Kisses with the whole batch. I weighed out the oil, colorant, and FO blend, to ensure I could split it evenly (I got within 5.4g to split evenly).

    I split and set aside the 40% solution's oil blend into a funnel pitcher without adding the lye. Then, I mixed the 25% solution first, as I believed it would trace slower and serve as the base. My goal was to drop the darker color (40% lye) into the lighter color (25% lye) and then do a hanger swirl. I did not use my stick blender, and emulsion took ten minutes or longer; I was making my mini mixer do some work! After light trace, I poured the 25% lye portion into my 2 lb. regular square silicone mold.

    My 40% lye solution had a lye sheet on the top, so I broke it up and tried to mix it. I used my mini mixer, and I added more water. Some lye reacted as the temperature rose 5 degrees F, but some crystals appeared undissolved. I added more water, and some of the lye did not dissolve. After more stirring with whisk, spatula, and mini mixer I did use a fine strainer to avoid lye pockets. The total  water added weighed 40.2g, which would then put the lye solution at roughly 33% ... but some of the lye probably didn't dissolve, so I'm not exactly sure the final high lye's solution strength.

    I was able to pour three lines at various heights twice across the mold, and then I completed the five whole hanger swirl loaf loops side-to-side (not front-to-back). Check out some photos of normal light and no light :)

    Darker lighting allows the ghost swirls to appear betterGlow in the dark ghost swirls


    • I would make this trace faster! I was not using a stick blender, and both solution strengths were taking a good chunk of time to get to trace.
    • I will baby the high lye solution more, to ensure it dissolves completely and hope the strainer is not necessary.
    • This was my first time trying to force gel phase, and I may have heated it a bit much? I think it did help the soap harden faster and deepen the color difference.
    • The fragrance was easy to work with and smelled sweet and crisp. I look forward to using it again.
    • The glow in the dark pigment appears better (brighter) in the higher lye / lower water solution than higher water / lower lye solution.
    ghost swirls artisan soapGlow in the dark ghost swirls


      • I love the glow in the dark pigment! Beautiful! Great job! Blessings 💕

        Cynthia Lage
      • I love that you used glow-in-the-dark pigment! Very fitting for the time of year!

        Lori Mackey
      • I love that you used the glow in the dark pigment! So interesting to see the results! Just a couple observations: 1. The floaties on top of the low water lye solution are normal and not undissolved lye. More like oxidation. You can strain them out or leave them, but it won’t affect the outcome of the soap either way. 2. The only factor that should have changed with your lye solutions was the amount of water, not the amount of lye. Hopefully that was the case anyway! :)

        Amy Warden

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