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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Why do we cry silently and shed tears while peeling or cutting onion?

    Unlike any other objects, Onion is one such thing that makes a person shed tears while peeling or cutting the onion. Why it is so? What is in onion that makes us shed tears and cry for a while? What should we do to stop shedding tears?

    Please reveal the history behind this onion peeling theory.

    @ This is mt 24th day thread beyond ISC's birthday challenging contest.
  • #705142
    Tears are a sort of protection the body makes by washing the eyes and removes the harmful material that has touched or entered the eyes. The eyes are having lachrymal glands that produce tear drops which are released to the eyes to wash o the foreign material and protect the eye.
    When onion is cut, some chemical reactions occur and due to that some strong acidic gas rises and hits the eyes. That acidic gas is harmful to the eyes and it burns the eyes. Hence immediately as a remedial reflux and mechanism, body produces tears and washes off the gas diluting and removing dissolving by tears.
    To avoid these onions may be immersed one by one in water immediately after peeling and cutting them under water. Alternatively a small vacuum suction can be kept to suck the acidic gas in the direction away from our face so that the acidic gas does not reach our eyes but sucked away.

  • #705143
    It's a complex chemical process that causes tears. You can say it's a defence mechanism of the onions so that others cannot harm it easily. Since onions are grown underground it absorbs sulphur and creates sulfoxides. Now, when the onion is cut this sulphoxide is released along with some enzymes and react to form a gas known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. This gas goes up and hits the eyes that cause tears to flow. A simple way to stop this would be to cover your eyes. You can wear glass or goggles which will prevent you from shedding unnecessary tears.

    "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

  • #705144
    Your Thread reminds me of my college days... I am from Biology stream and chemistry was one of my favorite subjects, due to interest in chemical reactions I love learn about real-life chemical reactions and your thread is one of them.

    Actually, onion contains a chemical called sine-propanthial-S-oxide which stimulates the lacrymal gland of our eyes while cutting the onion and due to this, the eyes become tearful.

    Earlier scientists believed that this is due to an enzyme called oneness in the onion, but research has found that it contains an enzyme called "lachrymatory -factor synthase" and when extracting the onion, the lachrymatory lecimetry-factor synthase enzyme comes out of it.

    This enzyme converts onion amino acids to sulfenic acid as well as sulfenic acid, sine-propanthial-S-oxide.

    When this sine-propionate-S-oxide comes into contact with our eyes through air, it causes discomfort in the lacrimal gland of our eyes and causes irritation and tears in the eyes.

    Now you must have understood why tears start flowing from our eyes while cutting onions, so now you must share this information with your friends so that their knowledge also increases with you.

    Swati Sharma

    Keep your Face to the SunShine

  • #705151
    While others may give the author the scientific reason as why we shed the tears while peeling onion, what I feel that those mother in laws who want to make the daughter in law to weep, they may give the task of peeling onion and surely there would be tears running down the cheeks for no reason. By this way she can take the inner grudge over the daughter in law for not in tow with her. Nevertheless when the onion is washed in water for a while before peeling would not make us to weep. Moreover a little bit of onion when it put on the traditional vegetable cutter, the feel of onion would not be felt.
    K Mohan @ Moga
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #705157
    Most of us are well aware with this property of onion to give rise to some irritating chemical vapour in the air which when reach our eyes create irritation in them. To avoid it, many people keep the peeled onion in water for a while before cutting it or close the eyes intermittently or even keeping on the kitchen exhaust fan helps in many cases. Another alternative is to keep it in an enclosed cutter where the vapours do not come out to affect our eyes. So, there are many ways to get away from these tears and the expert housewives know these tricks well.
    Knowledge is power.

  • #705175
    All members have said the fact according to science. Let me share the information according to some funny myth.

    Once, the God-created Onion, Tomato and Potato were intimate friends. They all went to the river for a bath. The potato went into deep water, sunk and died. The Onion and Tomato felt sad and cried. While they were returning, the Tomato was crushed by a moving vehicle. Looking at Tomato's death, the Onion cried and worried. Onion went to the Lord and said, " O Lord! When our friend Potato died, I and Tomato cried. When Tomato died, I cried. Now I am worried about my death. When I die, who will cry? Lord said, "Don't worry. The person who causes death to you will cry." This is what happening when we kill an Onion.

    While sharing the members scientific reasons, you can share this funny information with your relatives and friends.

    No life without Sun

  • #705176
    Onion is one particular vegetable in our household which is extensively used in all our preparations even though it brings tears to the person who cuts it. I cannot think of preparing food without onion.
    Thoughts exchanged is knowledge gained.

  • #705209
    The onion will have a chemical in it which will get vaporised easily at room temperature. When we cut the onion the vapours of that chemical will enter our eyes and irritate the eyes and we get tears. These tears are not just water they will some chemical vapours dissolved in them. Before cutting the onion if we keep the same for some time in the refrigerator and see that the onion will be at a low temperature, these strong vapours will not come while cutting. I think we have a good discussion sometime back about this issue. The link for that thread which was opened in 2018 is given here for ready reference
    When onions could bring instant tears from us, then how can we claim to be strong ?

    always confident

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