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I know the pros use lye but us hobbyists more that likely should use the baking soda. I don't know what difference it makes to the pretzel taste but lye is very caustic. If you use it at home be ultra careful as it can do so serious damage if you get it on yourself on the wrong place. (Like your face) Also need to make sure what cooking vessel you use is non-reactive with it. My $.02

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2 hours ago, ckreef said:

I see John used baking soda. Any pretzel makers out there that could explain the difference between using a lye bath compared to a baking soda bath? 

 

Not a pro here, but I know my chemistry. 

 

The whole point of the water bath with a basic additive is that it will it will chemically break bonds within the polysugars in the flour.  This allows for:

1) better browning

2) different flavor profile, pretzel taste, some sweetness, more complex flavor compared to bread. 

 

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3

 

Lye is a much stronger base. 

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1 minute ago, Mewantkj said:

Not a pro here, but I know my chemistry. 

 

The whole point of the water bath with a basic additive is that it will it will chemically break bonds within the polysugars in the flour.  This allows for:

1) better browning

2) different flavor profile, pretzel taste, some sweetness, more complex flavor compared to bread. 

 

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3

 

Lye is a much stronger base. 

 

Okay I'm following along but being a little slow tonight - wrap that statement up with the end results of the two different methods. 

 

Baking soda seems easier so unless lye really gives  a huge noticeable improvement in  the outcome then no point in it. 

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, ckreef said:

 

Okay I'm following along but being a little slow tonight - wrap that statement up with the end results of the two different methods. 

 

Baking soda seems easier so unless lye really gives  a huge noticeable improvement in  the outcome then no point in it. 

 

 

 

I know the theory down pat.  I have only ever used baking soda and it works just fine.  I have never used lye. It might be easier to apply consistently. 

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