5-Minute Crafts
5-Minute Crafts

How to Cut Onions and Not Cry

If you’ve ever had to deal with onions, you know what it feels like to cut one and cry.

With 5-Minute Crafts, you’ll find out why onions make us cry and what we can do to avoid it.

Why onions make us cry

The distinctive smell and taste of onions are present thanks to the volatile oils that contain organic molecules known as amino acid sulfoxides. Cutting, peeling, or crushing onions damages the microscopic cells full of ferments, or alliinases. The acid sulfoxides come into contact with the ferments and turn into chemicals that lead to tears. They work like the chemicals in tear gas, so once they reach the tear glands in the eyes, the eyes produce tears to wash the chemicals out.

The formation of the chemical that happens while peeling (cutting) onions peaks in about 30 seconds and ends in about 5 minutes.

How to cut onions and not cry

  • Use a sharp knife for cutting. A blunt knife leaves a rougher cut, damaging the cell membranes of the onion. It leads to the formation of more gas that irritates the eyes.
  • Cut onions under the kitchen vent. It can help lower the amount of irritating chemicals in the air.
  • If you have bad vision, wear contact lenses instead of glasses. They will work as a protective barrier, not letting the chemicals come into contact with your eyes. You can also use special kitchen glasses for this.
  • Cool the onion down. Cooling down the peeled onion halves in the fridge or in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes can help reduce the amount of the irritating chemical.
  • When cutting an onion, cut the root at the very end — it has the highest concentration of tear-inducing ferments.
  • Try wrapping your neck with a wet towel. It can catch the volatile compounds before they get to your eyes.
  • Don’t touch your eyes when cutting the onion. And after you finish, wash your hands carefully. If your eyes are itching, wash them out with cool water.
5-Minute Crafts/Tricks/How to Cut Onions and Not Cry
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