When cut, onions induce tears because of molecules called amino acid sulfoxides. Crying is the body's way of trying to wash out what it perceives as an irritant. Different kinds of onions contain varying amounts of sulfides, which is why you may have experienced fewer tears when cutting a sweet Vidalia onion than a white onion, for instance.
Probably the single best thing you can do to avoid crying when cutting onions it to make sure that your knife is as sharp as possible. This way the onion will be cleanly cut, which will cause fewer of the irritating molecules to be released.
Try putting your onions in the freezer for a few minutes before cutting them. Supposedly this will cause fewer amino acid sulfoxides to release when cut, thus causing you to shed fewer tears.
Some people swear by cutting the onion under cold water. Although this might waterlog them a bit, it will prevent most of the irritating gases to get to your eyes.
If none of these methods work for you and the tears and/or stinging are just too much, then you might want to invest in a pair of onion goggles (or try plain swimming goggles). These should protect your eyes fully.
And finally, you can take the shortcut and just chop your onions in a food processor or mini prep. The sharp blade, closed container and quick cut will all make you cry way less.
If none of these tactics work and you're crying rivers, there are a few ways to help alleviate the tears and stinging sensation. Try running your wrists under super cold water, sticking your head in the freezer or eating a piece of bread. Whatever you do, don't touch your eyes!
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