Why do we cry when cutting onions? Tips to avoid tears.
Once you start cutting onions, in a few seconds, you will notice eye burn and tears. You will wonder how onions can make you cry. Well, there are three types; they are emotional tears (crying), basal tears and reflective tears. Emotional tears is a result of psychological pressure, suffering, grief and physical pain, if you are facing a bad day tears are related to an emotional situation. On the other hand, basal tears always work as a protective layer for the eye, and it softens the eye and lid. One can blame basal tears if he\she feel any burn in the eye after crying. Finally, reflective tears are a result of particles or irritants entering the eye with common perpetrators behind it are smoke, dust and onion fumes.
Why on cry while cutting onions?
Onion fumes result in tearful reaction once one starts cutting onions with a knife with cells tearing up chemical interaction occurs. The resulting gas irritates the eye and when one tries to cure it this will lead to irritation of nervous cells that will lead to different sorts of troubles asking the brain to dispose tears which is called reflective tears. When trying to put onions in fridge before cutting it limits the ability of active enzyme and lessens the amount of gas produced or even cutting it from upside down to reduce the powerful exposure to the enzyme. When you are happily cutting onions for dinner, you can notice tears on your face, you may feel the burn and a bad feeling that will prevent you from continuing you meal. The question is why do we cry when cutting onions? The answer is in some fantastic biochemical processes, because onion absorbs minerals from the soil and it is indicated that onion is good in absorbing minerals especially sulfur which is used in some of amino acids. When one is cutting onion it exert its liquid contents and segregation of enzymes answering to amino acids rich with sulfur and forms unstable sulfenic which is recomposed to form synthetic chemical called propanethial-S-oxide; this chemical substance is unstable which means which means it can be easily vaporized and causes burn when it floats once one start cutting onions. When it becomes related to the eyeball, it causes tearful reaction to the brain. When leaving the kitchen, you can notice red eyes and cheeks as a result of tears and do not try to rinse your eyes quickly as it will cause a lot of annoying things. Now what can you do to limit chemical onion drama, there are certain types of onion especially sweet onion that contains less amount of sulfur which makes less likely to tears or crying. Additionally, you can freeze onion two days in the fridge before cutting it; this will slow responsible enzymes for unfortunate chemical events. Moreover, there are some other tricks like breathing from mouth or eating bread while cutting.
Tips to cut onion without tears:
Despite loving to add onions to the food, the story behind cutting onion is totally different; the experience may lead to depression that some may need to wear a pair of protective glasses to keep these tears away. There are a lot of tips that will help to cut onions without tears and get rid of this experience:
Cutting onion under water:
When you are cutting onions under water this will prevent sulfur compound from getting to your eyes and cause tears. If you want to experience this way and taking safety precautions with the overuse of it; it is preferable to use a flat tray to provide the maximum working space or trying to put your own cutting board in the sink and cut onions under cold and tap water.
You can put onions in freezer or fridge for 15 minutes to lessen onion irritation once cutting, but it might be difficult for you to get rid of the outer layer of onion.
- Leave the roots whole:
To leave onion roots whole and do not cut it from the stem so you can have a flat side to help in stabilizing the onion. This helps a lot in lessening tears while cutting. Be aware that when using this method you should stick with using a sharp knife, be attention and cutting slowly to avoid accidents.
- put the onions in microwave:
There are not a lot of resources that shows the effectiveness of this method; which is to put onions in microwave for 30 seconds to help in reducing tears while cutting it.
- Keep your mouth shut:
Trying to keep your mouth completely shut while cutting onions and try to breath from your nose in order to prevent onion fumes from reaching the mouth and sulfur compounds to your eyes.
- Chewing bread in your mouth:
This might be the final solution, which is chewing a piece of bread in your mouth to reduce amount of onion fumes that reaches the eye and prevent eye irritation. The theory here is that bread absorbs sulfur compounds before getting to your eyes.
- Cooling onions:
Cooling onions experience for 30 minutes before cutting it resulted in slight eye irritation and no crying. Nutrition specialist suggests to cool onions for a few hours before cutting them.
- Turn on a fan near you:
This trick is used in an attempt to keep sulfur compounds that stimulates tears away from you or put the cutting board near the fan in order to push onion fumes away from your eyes.
- Rub lemon juice on the blade of knife:
One of the easiest solutions, you have another simple component which is lemon juice used to rub the knife’s blade before cutting onions; you will notice the reduction of eye irritation and tears while cutting.
- Using a very sharp knife:
Using a sharp knife once cutting onions reduces the destruction of cells within onions. Subsequently, it lessens the emission of annoying sulfur compounds and helps in avoiding more tears. you can experience this method yourself and you will clearly notice the difference.