We've all heard about how chopping onions makes one "cry", or start tearing. When you cut into an onion, the destroyed cells release enzymes that react and get converted into an irritating gas that stimulates the lachrymal glands in the eyes, which produce tears.
Here are a few ways to eliminate or at least reduce the tearing:
- Use a very sharp knife when cutting. You destroy fewer cells with a sharper blade, since the smaller blade edge touches (cutting) fewer cells.
- After cutting an onion in half, rinse each cut half under water, and run each slice under water if needed. This washes away the enzymes that produce the irritating gas, but may also wash away some of the flavor.
- Keep your face as far away as possible from the onion when chopping.
- Breath through your mouth rather than nose when chopping. You'll suck the gas in when inhaling but blow it away when exhaling. The gas is less likely to reach your eyes this way.
- Peel the onion and chill it in the refrigerator before slicing, or cook before slicing. Temperature affects the enzyme's ability to react.
- In the most extreme situations, wear goggles that completely cover your eyes.