No More Onion Tears
To Prevent Crying While Cutting Onions
So what causes the onion to act as a tear-gas bomb?
There is a compound called propanethial-S-oxide in the tissue of the onion, which is a type of sulfoxide. When the misty droplets come in contact with a wet surface (such as your eyes or nose membranes) it reacts to form of mild type of sulphuric / sulfuric acid, which is understandably irritating to your sensitive organs.
What can be done to prevent this dilemma?
There are quite a few ways that people attempt to stop from crying profusely while cutting onions. Many a folk remedy handed down from old wives to their daughters over the generations. Some are good and Some are kinda silly and do not work! Now taking into consideration that everyone has thier own unique threshhold to withstand these vapours..
Some are virtually unaffected,while others are overly sensitive to the onion vapors. Different onions also produce different amount of these vapors.
A few of the offered methods to reduce tears are”
1. Using a sharp knife.
A clean slice will reduce the onion spray! Less Spray : Less Chemical Reaction. Simple.
2. Hold a wooden matchstick between your teeth — match head out.
This does not work for me and I find it quite silly
3. Hold a piece of bread in your mouth.
This may not be completely inaffective. It does seem to delay the process.
However I might not want to eat bread!
4. Breathe only through your mouth.
Did not work. It may reduce sensitivity to your nose.
5. Chew on a raw onion.
This is just plain ridiculous!
More onion? Does not work for me either! If you love onion raw try it.
6. Don’t chop the onion root — or do it last and keep the outer skin on the onion as long as possible.
Since the root end of the onion has a higher concentration of these chemicals.
Did you know, that keeping the basal root portion of an onion INTACT, while slicing can help greatly reduce the tears due to onion slicing?
Keeping in mind that the tears are caused by the SULPHUR compounds in the onion that combine with the water in our eyes to form a mild sulphuric acid! These sulphur compounds are most concentrated in the root portion(bottom) of the onion. Therefore, keeping this part intact (UN SLICED) till the end, helps to reduce the ‘ONION TEARS’ drastically. TRY IT!
7. Chop the onion under water, under running water, or pre-soak in water.
Okay this is suggested by many, however chopping onions underwater seems very difficult to do with pieces floating away everywhere.
- Next chopping under running water. Again not so easy to do as you’ll have to place the onions in the sink! Also not a fan of running water needlessly.
- Chopping water next to running water. The water is supposed to distract the vapors away. Okay so try this if someone is washing dishes next to you . It may be slightly affective but again not completely appropriate.
8. Contact lenses – conflicting arguments.
Some say ‘Wear contact lenses’ ;it acts as a shield to the delicate skin of the iris. Others recommend NOT to wear contact lenses as the acid gets between the contact lens and eye proving to be more irritating and uncomfortable.
I don’t wear contacts so I haven’t a clue
9. Wear swim goggles or a diving mask.
This is far too uncomfortable even though it works.
10. Use a fan to blow away or suck up the fumes.
If you can get a small table fan in your kitchen to blow away the fumes it is helpful.
11. Place onions in the freezer for 20 minutes before cutting.
This is a popular suggestion but I dont find it to work.
Unless your unions are frozen but that spoils the texture for most use.
Or if you chill them in the fridge you just have to wait too long. And I dont like the idea of storing onions in the fridge as a long term solution.
12. Put white vinegar on the chopping block to neutralize chemicals.
This works for the most part . However not a pleasant smell and it may mess up your onions if used in frying as they tend to absorb moisture and also the flavour may spoil some dishes.
So what seems to be the most effective method/s of all?
Burn a candle near the chopping area.
This rarely-known technique is based on the fact that the candle flame pulls air from around it and sends it up the smoke fume. This is surprisingly effective if you not using a huge amount of onions. I use this method the most on those sensitive days.
Place the cutting board next to a gas range and turn on a burner or two.
This is good if youve got something cooking or boiling away that doesnt require much attention. I chop onions near the stove and it works well.
Don’t chop the onion root — or do it last and keep the outer skin on the onion as long as possible.
I found this method to reduce the onion tears significantly. Just need to get used to not chopping off the root portion first. Wash onion thoroughly after removing outer skin. Cut off only the top of the bulb, leaving the basal root portion intact. Slice the onion into two halves.
Slice the onion all the way through to the cutting board but slice a cm away from the root. This keeps the onion intact till the end. When slicing is done for all the onion halves, chop off the basal root portion and discard.