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I'm interested to try to make waffles using a concentrated lye water instead of baking soda as a leavening agent. I have three questions related to this subject:

  1. Would this potentially make my waffles fluffier (due to increased CO2 producing reactions or otherwise)?
  2. Would it impact the flavor of the waffles?
  3. Is it safe to ingest waffles that have had a lye water reaction occur in them? (Obviously I should let the lye reaction complete before ingesting).
    1. How long should I let a lye reaction occur before cooking?

Notably, I often use sourdough starter in my waffles, which has an acid component - I've noticed that I get a strong reaction from the baking soda as a result, and it got me thinking that I would get an even stronger result from lye, but I'm worried about taste and ingestion safety.

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    If the acid is properly balanced in both recipes, lye should produce the same amount of rise as baking soda. I have no idea what would happen if you put too much lye in, though. (it eats away clogged drains ... and bodies ... would it eat away the waffles?) – Joe Jan 17 '16 at 3:10
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    Boy, does this seem like a bad idea... – Daniel Griscom Jan 17 '16 at 3:25
  • Lye is used in food since ages (a proper german Brezel or Laugenstange will be made with real lye, and lye noodles feature in japanese and chinese recipes), and food grade versions exist, though you will more likely get them in a pharmacy, not a grocery store. If you are asked what the hell you want the food grade lye for, it is probably best to say you want to make german Brezeln. – rackandboneman Jan 17 '16 at 14:57
  • I should add that I use food grade lye + water for pretzel making. I eat the final product, and the lye is not removed from the finished product other than through chemical reaction and time. So it seems to me that it would be safe to use in other dough recipes such as waffle batter. – Steve Midgley Jan 18 '16 at 17:47
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I got a pretty thorough answer to my question on the Chemistry sister site to this one.

https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/43896/can-i-use-lye-as-a-cooking-leavener-instead-of-baking-soda

In short, lye, while caustic, will not create a chemical reaction producing CO2, which is what baking soda does during leavening. So lye is at-best an inferior leavening approach, and in most cases, won't work as a leavening ingredient at all.

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