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Food-grade Lye

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Sodium Hydroxide, Caustic Soda

What is it?

Sodium hydroxide, an alkaline compound that has been used for centuries to cure olives, make hominy from corn, to alkalize cocoa, and in some Asian cuisines. Dunking pretzels in a lye bath before baking is what gives them their characteristic shiny, mahogany-colored shell.

How to use it

Lye is very caustic; if can sting your skin and stain or pit some work surfaces, so use caution when working with it. Wear protective gloves. If they are nondisposable, wash them in cool soapy water and rinse well after using. If splashes occur, immediately rinse with cool water.

Use a stainless-steel bowl to hold a lye bath. Never let the lye come in contact with aluminum, including foil; lye reacts to aluminum, releasing flammable hydrogen gas.

Dispose of a lye bath by slowly pouring it down the sink drain and then flush the pipes with cold running water for a few seconds.

Don’t have it?

You can substitute a baking soda bath when making pretzels; however, the pretzels don’t come out quite so dark and shiny.

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