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Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide in the Bay area

jlally Dec 8, 2010 10:38 AM

Anyone who has been to southern Germany knows how great the pretzels are - turns out that you need soda lye water to get the crust right - Anyone know where I can get food grade sodium Hydroxide in the Bay Area?

Thanks in advance!

  1. vincentlo Dec 10, 2010 12:34 AM

    Traditionally a lot of Cantonese (e.g., wonton) noodles are prepared with lye to prevent the noodles from getting "soggy" or overly tender. I bet most large Asian grocery stores will sell bottles of lye at very low prices. I actually have a bottle of lye sitting inside my kitchen cabinet right now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: vincentlo
      stilton Dec 10, 2010 03:54 AM

      Yep, find a big Asian grocery. I got a bottle of "lye water" at Pacific supermarket on Alemany in SF last weekend. There's different formulations of lye amongst the different brands; some have potassium hydroxide, or a blend of bases. The brand I got, "Tropics," has USP-grade sodium hydroxide and water only.

    2. Gustavo Glenmorangie Dec 8, 2010 04:58 PM

      May be you don't need lye.

      Can't seem to get the link to work. NY Times Sept 15 2010. Harold McGee discusses baked soda for lye-dipped pretzels. Google it. Or put the two below together.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie
        wolfe Dec 8, 2010 05:01 PM

        Link didn't work for me. See this experiment. I know it probably lacks peer review.

      2. Robert Lauriston Dec 8, 2010 10:49 AM

        If it's used in German baking, Lehr's most likely has it. Calcium hydroxide is readily available at Mexican markets.

        Lehr's German Specialties
        1581 Church St, San Francisco, CA

        5 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          jlally Dec 8, 2010 11:36 AM

          Lehr's unfortunately doesn't carry it. They do have Potash, but that's for cookies, not pretzel

          1. re: jlally
            wolfe Dec 8, 2010 12:17 PM

            Suggested source from other Sodium hydroxide threads.
            Accept no substitutes.

            1. re: wolfe
              jlally Dec 8, 2010 03:39 PM

              Thanks for the link. I've got a couple of pounds on order. All set for pretzels, homemade soap, drain cleaning....

              1. re: jlally
                wolfe Dec 8, 2010 04:19 PM

                That should last for quite a while since you use a dilute solution. Safe usage tips
                Make the lye solution: Don gloves and goggles. Place 1 quart of water in a plastic or glass container, weigh 1 ounce of food grade into a bowl and add slowly to the water, stirring with a plastic spoon or similar object.

              2. re: wolfe
                jlally Dec 20, 2010 08:54 AM

                Thanks for the heads-up on Essential Depot. OK price, good delivery for true food grade lye. I'm happy to report that the pretzels turned out perfectly. Only downside - my German instructor now wants them for class each Saturday....

          2. Melanie Wong Dec 8, 2010 10:46 AM

            This thread on sourcing lye (sodium hydroxide) for curing olives might help you out. Please let us know what you find.

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