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Chopping Onions Without Crying? We Tested 7 Methods To Find Out

  • 1. Stick it in the freezer 10 minutes before chopping
    1 / 7 1. Stick it in the freezer 10 minutes before chopping

    The idea here is that a chilled onion—you can also refrigerate it for 30 minutes—changes the chemical reactions that produce the tear-inducing gas, so the onions release less of the enzyme that sets off the reaction.

    The verdict: This one didn’t work at all.

    Before I started chopping, I chopped a “control” onion the same way I always do, just to make sure this particular batch of onions actually would make me tear up. Well, they did—and chopping the slightly frozen onion was just like chopping a room temperature onion. (Here are 9 Foods You Should Keep Away From The Refrigerator.)

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  • 2. Chop with a piece of bread hanging out of your mouth
    2 / 7 2. Chop with a piece of bread hanging out of your mouth

    It’s not really clear what the thought behind this trick is—some people say the bread will “soak up” the gas before it hits your eyes, but that’s certainly not a scientific fact.

    The verdict: Despite feeling ridiculous with a piece of bread hanging from my mouth, it actually worked really well. Not a single tear, or stinging eyes.

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  • 3. Soak it in cold water for a few minutes
    3 / 7 3. Soak it in cold water for a few minutes

    The tiny flaw in this plan is that it only works if you peel the outer layer of the onion first, so you have a few seconds when your eyes are completely unprotected from the fumes. But dunking the onion in water soon after supposedly washes away the gas, so when you cut into it a few minutes later, there’s no irritant to bother your eyes.

    The verdict: Not a single tear. Apparently this is what some restaurant chefs do to prevent tears when they have to chop a ton of onions, according to The Kitchn.

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  • 4. Wipe the blade with lemon juice before cutting
    4 / 7 4. Wipe the blade with lemon juice before cutting

    This “trick” seems to come from the now-defunct theory that the same compounds that cause an onion’s odor are the ones that make your eyes sting. So the idea here was that the overpowering smell of cut lemons would counter the onion smell that makes you tear up.

    The verdict: The lemons did absolutely nothing to protect my eyes, even though I rubbed lemon slices along my knife blade every quarter of an onion.

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  • 5. Run a fan near your workstation
    5 / 7 5. Run a fan near your workstation

    Since it’s a gas that makes your eyes water, running a fan to blow that gas away from your eyes has got to work, right?

    The verdict: This was by far the worst method. My eyes welled up the second I cut into the onion, and I soon had tears streaming down my cheeks. While this trick might work if you find that magical angle that sends all the gas blowing away from your face, my attempt seems to have just sent it swirling directly into my eyes.

    Related: The 10 Best Power Foods For Men

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  • 6. Microwave the onion for 45 seconds
    6 / 7 6. Microwave the onion for 45 seconds

    Apparently, hitting a whole onion with a few electromagnetic rays prior to cutting breaks down some of the compound that causes tears.

    The verdict: It actually worked—for the most part. My eyes did start to sting toward the end, but in comparison to some of the other methods, this worked like a charm. The only downfall? Microwaving the onion does make it lukewarm, which might be a deal breaker, depending on what dish you’re making. (Here are 5 bulk-up recipes you need to try.)

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  • 7. Chew gum
    7 / 7 7. Chew gum

    The idea here is that chewing gum forces you to breathe through your mouth. And although we now know that it isn’t the scent of onions that makes us teary-eyed, some people swear that it’s all over the second you breathe through your nose.

    The verdict: It took about 0.5 seconds of chewing for me to realize that chewing gum does not make me breathe through my mouth—I still breathe through my nose. So I had to focus hard on breathing through my mouth, which was a little distracting and not totally effective.

    Related: How Chewing Gum Eliminates Food Cravings

    Still, I noticed only minimal tearing. So breathing through your mouth just might do the trick—with or without gum.

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