In a large bowl, stir together the water, maple syrup, olive oil or butter, and salt. Stir in yeast, and wait 10-15 minutes or until the mixture turns frothy. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of flour. If the dough is still wet, continue stirring in flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead for 3-5 minutes or until the dough springs back most of the way when you gently press your index finger into it. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Cut 3 rectangles of foil about 4 to 5 inches wide, and generously rub with olive oil. Place the foil onto a large baking sheet.
Cut the dough in half with a sharp knife. Working with 1 half at a time, cut into 3 pieces. Cut each piece into 3 smaller pieces, for a total of 18 pieces. Cover the dough pieces with a clean dry towel.
To shape each pretzel: Roll one dough piece at a time into a long skinny rope. It should be at least 12-inches long! (Yes, it’s going to be really thin and skinny!) Make a 'U' shape with the dough rope. Grab the top ends of the U. Twist them once. (The right end should end up back on the right, and the left end should end up back on the left.) Fold the twisted ends down so they’re touching the bottom of the U. Gently press them into place. Put it on the prepared foil, and continue with the remaining dough pieces.
Lay the clean dry towel over the top of the shaped pretzels, and place the baking sheet in a warm draft-free spot to rise for 20 minutes or until about double in size.
Prepare the baking soda bath: Add the water and baking soda to a small pot. Bring the water to a boil. Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Working with one foil sheet at a time, carefully and very gently peel the risen pretzels off the foil, and place them top-side down in the boiling water. Boil for 10-15 seconds. Carefully flip using a slotted spatula. Boil for 10-15 seconds on the second side. Carefully transfer to the wire rack using the slotted spatula. Sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. Repeat with the remaining foil sheets and risen pretzels.
Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Carefully transfer the boiled pretzels from the wire rack to the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 425°F for 7-10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a dry wire rack to cool completely.