Gather safety goggles, disposable rubber gloves, stainless steel pot, long stainless steel stirring spoon. Put on safety goggles and rubber gloves.
Take the stainless steel pot and fill it with 6 cups of water. Add the lye to the pot and heat on high until you see steam. Then turn the heat off and set aside for about 5 minutes until you no longer see the steam. Make sure that the area you work in is well ventilated. Do not inhale the steam.
If you opt to use baking soda instead of lye, follow these instructions:When using the baking soda bath you will need to bake ¼ cup of baking soda at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Then you will need a stainless pot with 8 cups of water. Add the baked baking soda to the pot of water and cook on high until you it simmers. Use a stainless steel spoon to mix the solution to make sure the baking soda dissolves. Then turn the heat to medium to maintain a simmer. You are ready to dip your pretzels for 30 seconds then cook.
Place the dough pieces into the lye or baking soda solution for 30 seconds. Then place the pieces onto a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet. If you used a lye solution, do not touch the dough with bare hands at this stage.
After all of the dough has been dipped in the lye or baking soda solution be sure to clean the pot, any utensils and work area. You can pour either solution down the drain. Clean the pot, utensils and work area with soap and warm water.
Once the dough has been dipped in lye, use a sharp knife to score each piece of dough. Mark an "X" lightly on each piece.