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How to cut onions without crying

Onions are tasty and healthy, and they are a great ingredient in many foods and salads. They have some annoying qualities though, that don’t appeal to many people, especially when it comes to cleaning them. However, we have a few tips on how to avoid shedding tears and inhaling the unpleasant smell.

Why do we cry when cutting onions?

We start crying when we cut up an onion and break the outermost fleshy layer. The onion cells are injured and the unpleasant smell is released. Of course, the process is more complicated than it seems.

We shed tears because of the sulphuric acid that is the result of propanethiol contacting air. Inhaling the acid doesn’t represent a danger to health; it only causes an unpleasant burning sensation in the eyes.

Cutting onions without crying – here’s the solution

You may cut onions under running water, so the irritation-causing compound is washed off. Of course, doing this is not easy – someone who has ever tried using a sharp knife under running water, would confirm that. That’s why we have a better solution to share.

Keep onions in the fridge, and throw the one(s) we intend to use in the freezer for a few minutes, just before cutting them up. As a result of cold temperatures, chemical processes slow down; therefore, much less sulphuric acid will be produced when propanethiol is released. We still should work pretty fast, though, so onions don’t warm up under our hands.