Why Do Onions Make You Cry?

Lets answer a question you honestly could care less about. But could be some useful knowledge when trying to pick someone up at the bar later. What causes your eyes to water when you chop or cut into an onion?

Why do they make us cry? First, onions do not make us cry, they irritate our eyes causing them to burn and begin to tear. This happens from the reaction when chopping the onion called lachrymatory factor, or LF, this irritates our eyes. Peeling onions will not cause us to tear, but if you chop/cut an onion get ready to feel the burn. The onion’s cells break open, allowing two normally separated substances to combine. Linked together like pieces of a puzzle, they become a potent chemical weapon.

“It turns into a gas. It hits your eyes, and then it hits your sensory nerves in your eyes and causes them to tear up,” said Josie Silvaroli, an undergraduate at Case Western Reserve University, she would explain this process in a paper published in the journal ACS Chemical Biology. “It’s similar to tear gas.”

Pretty wild stuff, this could be a great tactic for battle if ever needed to temporarily make the enemy cry…

Can you chop onions without tearing up? Yes, so when you are trying to impress your tinder date by cooking a little something for her. It is possible to chop onions without tearing up like a big baby. This could also make you seem even more manly, which leads to some extra points.

1) Chop with a sharp knife- Using a sharp knife will help prevent the amount of enzymes released. The enzymes are released when cells are broken or crushed; using a sharp knife slices through the onion rather than crushing and thus, fewer enzymes are released.

2) Chew gum while cutting onions- The onion releases a chemical into the air once it is cut. It irritates the lachrymal glands, causing them to excrete tears. Chewing gum while cutting onions prevents tears by forcing you to breathe through your mouth.

Chewing gum before, during or after cutting onions promotes production of saliva. Saliva will absorb the vapors released by cut onions, preventing them from condensing on the eye and causing tears.

3) Chill the onions in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting them- This reduces the amount of the acid enzyme released into the air and has zero effect on taste.

4) Cut the onion near hot running water or a cloud of steam- Steam from a kettle or pan of water will draw out the vapors from the onion, dissipating them.

5) Breathe through your mouth and stick your tongue out- The olfactory nerves, which are closely located to the tear duct nerves, will be by bypassed and there will be no tears generated.

6) Soak the onion in water- this will eliminate some flavor.The onion is a little more slippery than normal (making it harder to deal with).

7) Point your knife away from the tubes- Because onion “flesh” is tubular in construction, pointing the tubes away from you while cutting will keep the onion from spraying in your eyes.

Not only do you understand why you “cry” when cutting onions, but you can now cut onions like a tough manly man with no tears. Oh and make sure you brush your teeth after eating all that onion, no one wants to smell that.

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