You asked

Is it possible to cut an onion with no tears?

Most mums will be familiar with the stingy, teary eyes that come with chopping an onion. Here is the science behind it. Onions have an outer layer (the brown leaves), scales (the white part we eat) and the basal plate (the root). When you cut the basal plate an enzyme is released. This enzyme reacts with the rest of the onion to release a gas. When this gas hits water it creates an acid. So when the gas hits the water in your eye, acid is released in the eye causing you to cry.
 
So if you would like to avoid tears while cutting an onion, here is what you do.
  • Use a very sharp knife. When the cells of the root are broken or crushed the enzyme is released. By using a sharp knife you are slicing through the root rather than crushing it. Therefore, fewer enzymes are released.
  • Put the onion in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before cutting. This will reduce the amount of enzymes that are released into the air.
  • Cut the onion under water.
  • Stick your tongue out. This will mean that the gas is hitting your tongue before your eyes.
  • Light a candle near your chopping board. The gas released by the onion is drawn into the flame of a candle. 
  • Chew gum. Many people find when chewing gum while cutting an onion tears do not form.

More questions

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