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5 ways to cut onions without shedding tears

Find out what makes you cry when cutting onions and how to make your cooking experience smooth

A stock photo of a man wearing a mask to cut an onion

Onions are a common ingredient for many delicacies, from making soups to the best stews and even salads, because they bring out the flavour in food

However, cutting onions is sometimes a nightmare no one would love to experience, chopping the onions causes tears to trickle down from even the most seasoned chefs.

The discomfort slows down the cooking process and can even lead cause one to accidentally chop their finger.

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The reason onions make one cry is because of their unique chemical composition. Onions contain a sulfur-containing compound called syn-propanethial-S-oxide.

When the onion is cut, this compound is released into the air and comes into contact with the eyes. The compound reacts with the moisture in the eyes, creating a sulfuric acid that irritates the eyes and causes them to tear up as a protective response which flushes out the irritant.

Well, there are no clear ways to prevent onions from causing teary eyes however there are tips you can adopt to avoid getting teary eyes.

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Cooling the onions in the refrigerator or freezer moments before cutting can slow down the release of the sulfur compounds, reducing the amount of gas that is produced to the air.

A sharp knife will cause less damage to the onion cells, reducing the amount of sulfur compounds released. A sharp knife also fastens the chopping which ensures you are done before the compounds go up.

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Wearing goggles or glasses is the most common method to avoid teary eyes. The goggles seal your eyes can preventing the gas from reaching your eyes. You can also find an alternative way to cover your eyes if goggles are not available.

Lighting a candle near the cutting board can help to burn off some of the irritant gas which can prevent the gas from reaching your eyes.

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Although you are unable to see the gas, using a fan or your mouth you can blow away the gas being released by the onions. That way the gas will not get to your eyes and cause irritation.

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