Ways to Avoid Tears While Cutting Onions Caused by Chemical Irritant

Everyone is familiar with onion as it is present in almost every kitchen. Onion is used in many culinary dishes as it builds a peculiar flavor and taste. The distinctive flavor is because of sulfur present in onion. It gets absorbed from the soil in which onion grow. Onion is special because anyone who has sliced onion will remember it lifelong because it makes you cry.

So why do you cry when you slice onion? Chopping, crushing or slicing raw onion can lead to tears in eyes because of certain ingredients present in onion. If you are used to slice lots of onions in cooking, then surely you will search ways to avoid this irritating problem. Firstly let us find out the reasons underlying your tearful eyes while chopping onions in detail and then measures to avoid eye irritation.

Causes of tears while cutting onions:

There are lots of goodness in onions as a vegetable. It has anti-inflammatory effect, it has ingredients that protect from cold and cough. It is used as an anti-asthmatic and anti-allergic agent etc. However, one negative point of onion is, when a person chops or crushes onion, he is ought to get tears from his eyes.

The blames goes on chemicals present in onion. The chemical irritant is called syn-propanethial-S-oxide. Onion contains sulfur in the form of sulfoxide a certain form of amino acid. When you cut onion, sulfoxide gets converted into sulfenic acid. This acid is not stable and when it comes in contact with air, it rearranges itself to form an irritating gas. When the gas comes in contact with lachrymal glands of eyes, they become irritated and release tears.

How to avoid tears while cutting onions:

Although cutting onions tends to produce tears, everyone may not react in the same way. Some people are unscathed while some cry a lot. It depends on each person’s lachrymal gland sensitivity towards the chemical irritant. However, there is no way to know whether you are sensitive or not. But you can always try several tricks that will make you cry less while cutting onions. Let us know the steps:

  • Cut onion under water. Take a bowl of water and cut onions under the water. The sulfuric compounds and will get absorbed by water before it reaches in the air and subsequently irritating your eyes.
  • Freeze onions in refrigerator before you cut them. Cold reduces the conversion of sulfoxides into sulfenic acid and the resulting synthase. After half an hour cut onions.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut onions. The irritating enzyme is released more from the onion cells when it is crushed. But if you use sharp knife you are able to cut onion slices sharply rather than crushing. This will prevent release of enzyme and hence you are likely to cry less.
  • While cutting onion chew gum. This may be ridiculous, but it works. This is because while chewing gum you frequently breathe through mouth. And the gasses get absorbed before they reach the eyes.
  • Another trick is to whistle while you cut onions. It is simple, air flows away from your eyes and face.
  • Wear goggles or eye glasses while cutting onions. It will block certain amount of onion gas floating in air.