In the paranormal sense of the word, ectoplasm is a substance, some times tangible and some times vaporous, which is produced from a medium’s body during séances, usually from an orifice such as the mouth, the ears, the nose and other holes best left un-mentioned. Ectoplasm supposedly smells like ozone, and is usually milky white, warm, slimy, and sticky and just generally really disgusting. When
touched or exposed to light, the substance disappears or retreats into the medium’s body, which sounds like a really good excuse to hold séances in the fraud-concealing dark.
Apparently this substance can be made to take on the form of a face, a limb that can be used to lift things, or even an entire body. Why forming such things would be of any real use to the spirits of the dead is a question still looking for a rational answer. Though at one time theorized to be the essence of all psychic phenomena and essential to the manifestation of spirits, there have been many cases in which the so-called ectoplasm has been examined and found to be a cloth called muslin mixed with substances such as egg white or potato starch. In other cases this supposedly otherworldly substance has turned out to be paper that has been chewed up and regurgitated. Gauze and cheesecloth have also been found, and in one case the so-called ectoplasm turned out to be an animal lung that had been carved into the crude resemblance of a human hand! Not surprisingly, despite its supposed necessity to the process, reports of mediums producing ectoplasm have declined sharply over the decades while reports of mediumistic activity itself have, if anything, increased. This suggests that either the spirits no longer need to gross us out, or that the many cases of mediums being caught with fake ectoplasm has put the profession off the entire idea.