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How To Make Your Eyes Stop Burning From Onions

How To Make Your Eyes Stop Burning From Onions: Top 10 Hacks

Last Updated on January 15, 2023 by Shari Mason

In the United States, onions are one of the largest fresh vegetable industries, recording 20.39 pounds of per capita consumption in 2018.

It adds a flavorful depth to savory dishes but preparing it brought most people to tears. 

So how do you make your eyes stop burning from onions? Read on.  

10 Kitchen Hacks To Prevent Watery Eyes While Cutting Onions

1. Chill Onions Before Cutting It

cutting an onion

One of the best ways to prevent burning your eyes is to cool the onions before cutting.

Any type of molecules are slower when cold, so refrigerating the onions beforehand ensures that the irritating chemicals won’t rush up to you immediately [1]

You can also place the onions in the freezer for at least 15 to 30 minutes.

2. Place Wet Paper Towel On Chopping Board

Placing a wet towel near the chopping board recently went viral on social media platforms. The fumes from the onions will gravitate toward the wet paper towel instead of your eyes. 

Another way of using a dampened paper towel is to put it around the front of your neck and let it absorb the gasses from the onions.

3. Soak It in Water

Another trick to prevent your eyes from burning when cutting onions is to soak the onions in water for 10 to 15 minutes. In theory, water can wash off some compounds in the onions that cause you to tear up. 

“The sharper the knife, the less damage is done to the onion, and fewer irritations are released into the air as a result.”

– Corey Whelan, Healthcare Writer

It is also better to peel the onions and cut them in half or quarters before soaking them.

4. Use Goggles While Cutting Onions

Although onion goggles are now widely available, you can still use ski or swimming goggles to protect your eyes from the fumes released by the onions.

It may look a bit funny, but it is an easy prevention if you already have some goggles at home. Some people also use contact lenses while cutting onions. 

5. Ensure Proper Ventilation in Your Kitchen

woman chopping onion

The last thing you need is to lock in the airflow in your kitchen and trap the fumes released by onions. Turning on the fan or opening the windows will sweep away the eye-irritating chemicals from cutting onions [2]

You can also stand by the porch and expose yourself to the air outside.

6. Cut Onions In Cold Water (But it Can Be Dangerous!)

If you are short on time to soak the onions, you can start cutting under running water. But it is not easy and is a little more dangerous. 

You must also remember that throwing wet onions in the frying pan while wet will cause them to sizzle and spit wildly.

7. Cut The Stem First

The way you cut onions can also be the reason for your teary eyes. Some people chop off the root first, where the highest contraction of compounds that make you cry is located. 

So, to save some tears, leave the root end on and start by cutting at least half an inch of the stem.

8. Always Use A Sharp Knife

A dull knife is more dangerous and will damage more onion cells than a sharp knife. It slows you down while cutting onions, exposing you more to the eye-irritating chemicals.

9. Burn a Match or Candle

Light a large candle near you before you start cutting onions. The flame will help disable the compounds released by the onion that makes you cry while chopping. 

Some people would also go to a steady and safe place near a gas stove to slice their onions. However, don’t forget to turn off the stove after you’re finished.

10.  Use Food Chopper

food chopper on a topper

Although you will have less control when using a food chopper, it is still a good alternative if you aim for smaller pieces of onion.

It may result in uneven chunks, but you won’t cry as much as when chopping by hand.

Use a food chopper if you need to cut a few pieces of onion.

How Do You Get Rid of an Onion Burn in Your Eye?

You can get rid of an onion burn by rinsing your eyes with clean and cool water. But don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly after cutting onions before touching your eyes because it may lead to more irritation. 

You should distance yourself from the sliced onion and press a cool compress over your eyes to soothe the irritation.

FAQs

Why do my eyes burn so long after cutting onions?

Your eyes burn for a few seconds to at least a few hours after cutting onions because they contain eye-irritating chemicals.

What is the best way to cut onions without crying?

Cutting chilled onions quickly using a sharp knife is the best way to prevent your eyes from getting watery. A dull knife would release more lachrymatory factors that trigger sensory nerves in your eyes. 

Can onions damage your eye?

No, cutting onions will not damage your eyes. It is safe but will cause temporary burning, irritation, and tears.

Why are my eyes so sensitive to onions? 

One of the reasons that your eyes are so sensitive to onions is that you have more sensitive pain-sensing nerves than other people.

In Conclusion

The best way to make your eyes stop burning from cutting onions is to chop a chilled onion quickly using a sharp knife. You also must avoid cutting the root first and ensure proper ventilation in your kitchen. 

Some people have a more extreme reaction when cutting onions where they feel like fainting or blacking out. These symptoms require the attention of experts.

References:

  1. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/06/22/482032913/the-science-of-why-onions-make-us-cry 
  2. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/stop-onions-from-making-you-cry 
Shari Mason

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