Onions are used in nearly every type of cuisine, which makes them pretty much impossible to avoid in the kitchen. I’d never want to avoid eating an onion but, as we all know, chopping them at once can lead to stinging, weeping eyes and — if you happened to put on mascara “just to feel pretty” — dark streaks and smudges all over your face.
Luckily, there are several ways to mitigate the effects of syn-Propanethial-S-oxide, the volatile, pain-causing chemical released by vengeful onions when you damage their cellular walls. You can work next to a fan or under your hood vent (to physically remove the gas away from your person), pop them in the freezer for half an hour (to decrease the volatility of the gas), or rinse or soak them under water (to rinse the compound down the drain).
All of those methods work — though the last one can render the onions slippery and a little too mild-tasting — but sometimes my stove is in use, or I forget to pop them in the freezer and can’t wait the extra 30 minutes. That’s when I reach for an old pair of safety goggles, which physically block the syn-Propanethial-S-oxide.
If you had to take any sort of chemistry lab, you’ve probably seen these. They’re plastic and boxy, with little vents on the side that can be open or closed as needed. They cost less than five bucks at your local hardware store, and they fit over glasses. Specialised “Onion Goggles” also block syn-Propanethial-S-oxide, but they cost more money ($15-$25), don’t fit over your existing eyewear, and just don’t look as cool. (I really love the look of a chunky goggle, I don’t know why!)
Just slip ‘em on your head, tighten the elastic straps to get a snug fit, and chop away, without any fans, freezing, or rinsing. The tighter the seal, the safer your eyes will be, but even an imperfect fit is better than nothing. The straps of my old lab goggles have lost a lot of their elasticity and are prone to slipping, but I was still able to get through three whole onions without any tears.