Onion Tears MythBuster!

I’ve probably heard the all and tested them all. Let’s go through the various urban myths of how to avoid onions tears!


Myth #1: Tongue Holding

Mythology: This involves holding your tongue to the roof of your mouth and breathing through your nose.

Logic: “Hopefully” the irritants bypasses your nose and eyes and into the mouth.

Results: Fail. Instant tears – you might as well avoid this one.

Myth #2: Light a Flame

Mythology: Simply lighting a scented (or unscented) candle before chopping them onions.

Logic: Some voodoo magic about scented (or unscented) smoke will neutralise the onions.

Results: Fail. Instant sobs – them voodoo magic don’t work with onions.

Myth #3: Chewing Gum or etc.

Mythology: Chewing anything (since gum is banned Singapore) – like on a carrot or celery or fried chicken.

Logic: Eating or chewing something will “expel” the irritants out.

Results: Fail – though that fried chicken would taste wonderful.

Myth #4: Freezing (cold) Onions

Mythology: Freeze the onion for about 15 minutes or cool it for 30 minutes.

Logic: Theory goes that if its cold, the cold inhibits the onion irritant release mechanism.

Results: Somewhat works! Though if you freeze it for too long, your knife might not like icicle onion.

Myth #5: Venting or Blowing

Mythology: Venting or placing a fan to blow wind away from you and the onion.

Logic: Let that breeze carry away your sorrows!

Result: Somewhat works! Depending on the fan, vent setup, wind speed, access to fresh air and so on.

Myth#6: Running Water

Mythology: Cut onions in a sink, under running water.

Logic: Let the water wash away the irritants.

Result: Somewhat works! Although, it’s a safety hazard working with wet hands, the onion over hydrated thus being harder to saute.


Myth #7: Onion Bath


Mythology: Cut the root of the onions and soak it in water for a few minutes.

Logic: Most of the irritants are from the root – therefore my ‘leeching’ it out, less tears.

Results: Somewhat works! Although again, safety hazard with wet hands and wet onions and since you’ve “leeched” off the acids – you get milder tasting onions.

Myth #8: Military-esque grade Protection

Mythology: Wearing goggles or snorkel set will avoid all irritants!

Logic: No possible contact with said onion.

Result: Totally rocks! This is not myth – this one is fact! Though you would have to rock the getup and look like an idiot in the kitchen for that duration.


So if you want to have sob-free onion cutting:

  • Get a snorkel set if you’re doing more than a few onions.
  • A well-ventilated area will do you good.
  • Sharp knives are essential.
  • Work quick and fast before the tears get to you.

And lastly, have an sad excuse on hand to regale about when you do succumb to your sobs!