Indigo Ghost Swirl

I’ve been fascinated by the ghost swirl since I first read Clara Lindberg’s posts on varying the amount of water in soap to selectively gel parts of the soap, and seeing her ghost swirl soap was enough motivation to try it!  So I experimented using rooibos tea, and had planned to try the technique with a range of natural colourants to compare and contrast how each colourant was affected by allowing (or forcing!) the soap to go through gel.  But sometimes there’s just too much happening, and I shelved my idea until yesterday …….

One of my go-to natural colourants is indigo – so this seemed like a good place to start.  I added the indigo to the oils so that the amount of indigo would be exactly the same in both portions of the soap.  And then I followed exactly the same technique as I used to make the rooibos ghost feather soap, adding additional water to the “high water” portion of the soap.

Rather gray soap batter

For the swirl, I “layered” the high and low water soap, and then did a hanger swirl.  Once the soap was swirled, it went into the oven at 60C for an hour.

Judging the “right” amount of indigo to add to soap can be tricky because with paler shades of blue, the colour in the soap batter looks quite gray.  And I wanted the the colour to be a light to mid-blue, so that the contrast between the gelled and ungelled soap would be striking.


Adding water did very slightly lighten the colour of the “high water” soap, but the colour differential was small:

The “high water” soap on the left is slightly lighter in colour

You can (barely!) make out the colour difference in the swirled soap.

The swirl is discernable – just!

In order to be able to compare gelled and ungelled swirls, I used a sillicon cup cake mold for the excess soap – and photographed that too ….

My control for this experiment: the excess soap

In spite of my previous expeience with the ghost swirl, I had the same worry that the “high water” soap wouldn’t gel and I’d be left with an unremarkable bar!  But exactly as with the rooibos soap, the magic happened after about 40 minutes – here’s how it looked:

“High water” soap in gel phase

After an hour, I removed the soap from the oven and waited patiently until this morning to cut.  Even before cutting I was excited, because I could see that the gelled portion of the soap was strikingly different to the ungelled portion …..

Gelled soap bar compared to my “control”

But on cutting, the contrast was even greater!  And although I was not too sure about what my hanger swirl would look like, I love it!  Wow …..  (Even if I say so myself!!)

All of the bars just after cutting

The designs in the soap have a similar organic look to the rooibos soap, but each is completely different – and the colour contrast is incredible!  Much more dramatic than what I’d expected.  Here are some photos of the bars ……

Can you see the runners in these bars?

Whirling dancers

A floral look


Marine foliage

And here’s how different the “control” bar looks when compared with the CPOP bars:

Contrast with the “control” soap

Yet again I’ve been amazed by this technique, and the beautiful designs you can create using it.

Thanks for reading – and happy soaping!


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