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Hacks to keep from crying while chopping.

Charlie Heller
September 15, 2017

While the care that goes into making a meal can bring out our deepest emotions, cooks often cry for a simpler reason: onions.

A basic ingredient for countless dishes, onions can be chopped, sliced, diced, and pureed into everything from burger-toppers to the basis of a classic soup. The range of the onion is enough to bring you to tears—but so are it's internal eye-irritants. Onion cells contain various compounds that are naturally kept separate, but once they're cut, the compounds combine to form new enzymes that get in your eyes, causing the classic weepy reaction.

Unless the internet can help it. Here's the web's five weirdest hacks to stop onion tears.

1. Wear sunglasses

According to The Daily Meal, the secret is simple. As propanethiol S-oxide, the tear-inducing compound, floats up from the onion, simply keep it out by using shades to "create a gas mask for your eyes." If you already own sunglasses, this could be the cheapest way to look cool and emotionless. Just be absolutely sure you can see what you're doing with that knife!

2. Chop under a vent

Another way to keep those onion enzymes out of your eyes is to blow them past you. Lifehacker suggests putting your cutting board close enough to the stove or microwave that you can chop beneath an overhead vent or ventilation fan.

3. Light a candle

While the actual scientific mechanism isn't totally clear, Redditors claim that burning a candle next to the cutting board keeps the crying away. One suggests the "chimney effect," while another adds that the heat could cause convection that moves the onion "fumes" away. Your mileage may vary on this one, as a third commenter found less sucess with the technique.

4. Surgical Removal

If your knife skills are up to the challenge, another Lifehacker post claims you can remove the part of the onion that causes most of the crying. Find the part at the bottom of the onion where the roots come out, and cut a cone a third of the diameter and a third of the depth into the onion.

 Ian Beyer, the online proponent of the technique, says if it doesn't work, the cone was too small. While potentially convenient, it's up to you whether it's worth losing so much onion.

5. Buy "Onion Goggles"

The same mechanism as sunglasses, only better: specialized "Onion Goggles" can offer full protection around the eyes instead of just in front. This is is one of the most comprehensive onion solutions of all, as well as one of the most visually distinct.

6. Develop a new type of onion

If you're really sick of onions clouding your vision, you can do what Japanese firm House Foods did and genetically engineer your own. In June, the firm announced they'd successfully created onions that are low enough in tear-inducing enzymes that they won't make you cry at all—unless, of course, it's out of relief.