Onions are a beautifully flavorful addition to any dish — however, cutting them isn't pretty. Is there anything worse than crying while trying to cut onions, prolonging the process, and then crying some more? Fortunately, we just discovered a simple trick for preventing your tears from flowing when cutting onions.
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It all started with TikTok user @cerealeatingghost, who responded to a video from @xxbaileyelizabethxx. "Here I am, 20 years old, crying because I'm chopping onions and making lentil soup," said @xxbaileyelizabethxx. "Let me share my onion wisdom, so you don't have to cry anymore," replied @cerealeatingghost.
"The acid that's in onions is attracted to a water source, so your tear ducts are usually the first place [it's attracted to], right?" says @cerealeatingghost. "All you have to do is get a damp paper towel, fold it up, and keep it on your cutting board. That acid will be drawn to the wet paper towel and not your tear ducts."
According to Healthline, when onions are cut, they release enzymes and sulfenic acid that combine to make the irritating gas propanethial S-oxide. This is a defense mechanism to protect the onions from hungry critters underground. When propanethial S-oxide touches the eye, it turns into sulfuric acid, causing the eyes to tear as they work to flush out the acid.
This theory from @cerealeatingghost was then tested by TikTokers @partyshirt, who discovered that the damp paper towel hack actually works. Plus, Katie Maguire, Hunker's senior commerce editor, also tested out the hack and confirmed that it does indeed prevent you from crying when chopping onions.
If you're looking for another hack to try, you could also go with the Gordon Ramsay method: Leave the onion root intact to prevent the vegetable's tear-inducing gases from being released. Between this trick and the paper towel one, you can save countless precious tears.