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Take the Tears Out of Chopping Onions

Onions can be a great addition to lots of different food; producing a variety of tastes and flavors, they are used frequently in many of our favorite dishes. However, while they add tasty flavor, they release a gas compound that can burn eyes and cause them to tear up in the middle of cooking.

Since there are few people immune to the affect of sulfuric compounds, lovers of cooking have come up with lots of ways to reduce irritation while chopping onions, but do any of them actually work? Generations of onion-choppers come up with their own solution, and some of them are just silly, so we’re going to break down the myths and expose cutting onions for what it really is: a chore that doesn’t always have to bring you to tears!

Six methods that claim to reduce or eliminate eye irritation:

-Cutting the onion underwater:

While using this method, be very careful as to not slice your hand underwater—that will hurt much worse than stinging eyes! The safest way is to fill a sink with water and carefully cut the onion, letting the tear-inducing gases get trapped under the surface.

-Freezing the onion:

Before you’re ready to chop the onion, place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This wives’ tale claims making it colder will keep it from making you tear up, but it also makes the onion tougher to chop and the outer peel is harder to remove.

-Biting a match:

Most people have heard of this trick, and it seems to be pretty tried and true. Take a match (UNLIT) and put it between your teeth while chopping. The idea behind this method is that the gases are trapped in the red end of the match before they can reach your eyes.

-Holding bread in your mouth:

Similar to the match method, this old wives’ tale centers on the idea that the bread will absorb the sulfuric compounds released from the onion.

-Have a fan nearby:

Using a fan to chase away the tear fumes sounds almost too simple to work… but many people report that it did the trick! You can use just a normal fan and set it near by on the kitchen counter, or use your vent under the oven hood.

-Wear goggles:

As silly as you might look, wearing goggles while chopping onions is also a method used by many! Be careful if you wear glasses, but otherwise there’s not much to this hack. These goggles are made specifically for cutting onions!

Whichever method you choose to use, check out our some of our favorite recipes here and get more great tips and expert advice from our fellow Neighborly companies, here!