How To Chop An Onion Without Crying: Use Water

If you've been cooking for a while, you're all too familiar with the onion fight. No matter what we do, chopping onions always seem to make us tear up.

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This eye irritation occurs because of chemicals that are released when the blade breaks through the cells in the onion. Our eyes, or more specifically our corneas, are extra sensitive to the chemical that forms in the air around the onion. When the nerve endings sense the chemical, which is called syn-Propanethial-S-oxide, our tear ducts to go to work combating the burning sensation.

Water may act as a barrier to prevent onion fumes from reaching your eyes, and there are a handful of kitchen hacks you can experiment with to see which works best for you.

First, try placing the cutting board in your sink. Run water from your faucet over the onion as you slice it. Don't run too much or it will splash all over and send your chopped pieces floating away. The trick is to cut under a steady, soft stream, which will push the gases away rather than allowing them to float up.

Second, try cutting a submerged onion. If the sink option was a little messy, fill a deep dish or bowl, and cut the onion under the water in the bowl. Hold it tight so it doesn't move around in the bowl while you cut. This option may prove to be a bit unwieldy, so take extra caution to make sure you don't cut yourself.

Third, dab some water under your eyes; the idea is that the fumes will hit the water before your eyes. If you need to reapply while you're halfway through chopping, use a paper towel or wash your hands first. You don't want to get onion juices directly on your face — that's just an invitation for the waterworks to begin.

Everyone's eyes have different levels of sensitivity. If water isn't making the cut, try these other tips to limit onion-induced eye irritation.