Minimising Onion-Induced Tears
Ever wondered why you get teary whilst cutting onions? Well, its all in the science. When you cut an onion, it releases a chemical called syn-propanethial-S-oxide, and when this comes into contact with the moisture in your eyes, it forms sulfuric acid. This acid irritates the nerves in your eyes, triggering a stinging sensation and causing your eyes to tear. Simple.
It is actually your body's natural protective response in action. The tears produced when cutting onions are designed to dilute and flush out the irritant and protect your eyes from potential harm. To minimise the impact of cutting onions, you should try to reduce the chemicals produced from hitting your eyes, not reducing the tears, which are their for your protection.
Cutting onions under running water can help as this washes away the irritant quickly; chilling the onion can slow down the release of the irritating chemicals; using a sharp knife can cause less damage to the onion's cells, which reduces the amount of irritant released; cutting onions under a ventilated hood or near a fan can help remove the chemicals from the air; or wearing protective eyewear can help to shield your eyes from the irritating fumes. Remember, the tearing response to cutting onions is a natural and temporary reaction, and it varies in intensity among individuals.