If You Don't Want To Cry While Cutting Onions, Try Lighting A Candle

If you're like most people, getting ready to cut an onion is a daunting task because you know things are about to get intense in the kitchen. The first few cuts of the onion start out fine; but, before you know it, you're crying more than you cried at the most tear-jerking movie you've ever watched.

If you've been personally victimized by a particularly pungent onion, don't worry. Your ability to see in the kitchen when tears are streaming down your face won't be compromised any longer. There's a simple, but effective, trick to help you chop onions without all of the waterworks. It all comes down to cutting out that sting with a common household item — one that you may even already have in your dining area or kitchen. All you need is a few seconds of time before you cut that onion open, and you'll have a much easier time after you start chopping away. This clever method might leave you mystified, though. How does something that seems so random work to help you stop those tears from falling?

Why you should light a candle before cutting onions

Onions react to being cut open. The best solution to the problem? Fight fire with fire. Yup, this just might be the only time we recommend exacting revenge on a vegetable, but when you light a candle near your onion-chopping space, that's basically what you're doing.

When you cut an onion, you hack into its cell wall, which releases a specific chemical. That chemical combines with an enzyme (and enzymes start chemical reactions). Further along this chain reaction, and straight out of chemistry class, the onion releases a molecule that can create sulfuric acid when it makes contact with your eyes' natural water. As you might imagine, getting sulfuric acid in your eyes doesn't exactly help them. This is where the candle comes in: The fire can stabilize the chemical that the onion releases before it hits your eyes. Just make sure that the candle is close to where you plan on chopping the onion so that the fire can work its magic on those "onion chemicals." Goodbye, burning eyes; hello, productive food prep session.

Other ways to prevent crying when you cut onions

The candle method might work well for you; but, if the mere thought of chopping onions makes you cry because nothing seems to stop those tears from flowing, there are other ways to protect against that stinging sensation.

Want to stop crying when you chop onions? Take extra preventative measures before you work with them. Freezing onions 30 or so minutes before using them or cooling them off in the fridge won't necessarily stop those nasty chemical reactions, but it absolutely can slow them down. In addition to this strategy, setting up a fan in your kitchen area and ensuring that it's blowing away from you can help you drive those pesky onion fumes out before they can reach your eyes. If your eyes themselves could use a little bit more protection from the exposure to that sulfuric acid, then you might need a pair of "onion goggles" in your life. (Yes, such a product exists; and, yes, a protective full-eye covering really can block out those annoying little molecules.) Lighting a candle is a creative way to stop yourself from shedding tears when you cut onions; but, if you have sensitive eyes, it's far from the only way.