Chinese Ingredients

What is Lye Water (Lihiya)

What is Lye Water and Substitute Recipe
What is Lye Water and Substitute Recipe

What is Lye Water in Cooking?

“Lye water is a food grade potent liquid alkaline – a potassium carbonate solution.

Lye water has been used around the world for many years. It is also used to make ramen noodles, it gives them their distinctive yellow colour, and bouncy texture. Not to mention, it helps prevent them from disintegrating in the broth. In Asia, lye water is known as kansui.

Lye water is also used from other parts of the world like Eastern European breads, like bagels and pretzels and Chinese moon cakes to help them produce a richer brown surface during cooking. The alkali is also used for the Scandinavian delicacy lutefisk, while Chinese century eggs are ussually made by soaking it in a lye-salt brine.

Make sure to wear gloves when using lye water, and mix careful ratios according to your recipe. Keep out of reach of children.”

So where can I buy a food grade Lye Water or how to make a lye water substitute? Yes, you can make your own lye water substitute at home if you can’t find it anywhere.

Please keep out of reach to children, and do not just leave in table, because this solution can be mistaken for water because of its clear color.


A teaspoon of  lye water in your Kutsinta batter will turn the mixture into a gummy texture (slightly elastic or chewy). This is what makes kutchinta different among other kakanin’s.

Where can I buy Lye/Lihia water?

If you can’t find Lye water in your place and you’re looking everywhere just to find one. Don’t worry you’re not alone, a lot of people are looking for this in the market and couldn’t find it easily. But let me give you some proven tips on where to hunt for this solution.

You can buy it in palengkeng bayan if you’re in Philippines they call it “Lihia” in Filipino. For other countries, you can buy it in asian stores, or Filipino Online stores near your area. You can also buy it in Lazada or Shopee for Cash on Delivery Payment Nationwide.

How to make a substitute for Lye Water:

1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups water


In a medium pot, add 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. (I used the cup for dry ingredients and not the cup for liquid or pitcher style). Bring it to a boil over high heat for about 5 minutes. Make sure to use a shallow pot so it will not overflow and do not leave it unattended.


You can store this into air tight jars and make sure that it is out of reach by children.

Please don’t forget to tag the jars properly with “Lye Water Substitute” because it looks like crystal water. Ratio for the recipe is as is basis, follow the required measurement in the given recipe for lye water.

(For Oven User):

Preheat oven to 120°C and line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Add the baking soda on the foiled tray, spread it out and bake for about an hour. The baking soda will lose about 1/3 of its weight and gain strong alkali. Warning: Do not touch with bare hands. It will cause irritation to sensitive skin. Carefully transfer it into an airtight jar and prevent the powder from absorbing moisture from the air.

How to use it as Lye Water: (After baking) Add 1 teaspoon baked baking soda to 4 teaspoon water and stir it well.


Lihia Water by Bernadeth Asian Store in Hörby, Sweden

Pamana Lye Water – Photo by julie_van_winkle

Lye Water, Where to buy online
Lihia – Photo by Reem Lutong Bahay, Jedah Saudi

You may also try our:

Kutsinta (Using Rice Flour & All Purpose Flour)


Credits: SousChef

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