A lye solution is a strong "base". In cooking, acids (lemon, for example) are common, but bases are not. Well, I'm not really ready to deal with lye in the kitchen just yet. The only other option I knew of was baking soda, which is a much weaker base, but is more kitchen-friendly. Then, I ran across this article, where they suggest baking your baking soda to get a stronger base.
They said that baking drives off water, making a stronger base, then you add it to a water bath. Hang on, then do you gain anything in the process? This is where it becomes chemistry. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3. When you bake it, you get sodium carbonate, Na2CO3
2NaHCO3→ Na2CO3+ H2O + CO2
Hmm, then you mix the Na2CO3 with water, and you get more OH- than mixing the original baking soda would provide. I can't nail down the reaction, but I guess it isn't that important.
I took 8 oz of baking soda, spread it on a baking sheet and baked it at 275° for an hour, and ended up with 5 1/8 oz of what must be sodium carbonate. I noticed a fine dusting tended to float into the air as I poured, so I tried to not breathe it or get it in my eyes. Interesting. Now to make some pretzels...