Onions are a cooking staple. They add flavour to just about any dish, whether it be a salad, stirfry or bake. The only downside is that to cook with onions you need to cut them first. And anyone who’s cut an onion before will know that this presents a challenge.
Onions produce propyl sulfoxide when cut, which changes into sulfuric acid when it comes into contact with water. This sulfuric acid can irritate our eyes, which is why we cry when cutting onions – to remove the irritant from our eyeballs.
So how can you avoid exposure to this irritating acid? There are plenty of tricks and tips out there on the internet. Put a spoon in your mouth, wear goggles, put the onion in the fridge. All of these have a hit or miss track record. But TikTok may have found the easiest way of all.
The TikTok onion hack
TikTok user @cerealeatingghost has shared a game-changing tip for stopping tears while cutting onions. Here’s the secret:
“All you have to do is get a damp paper towel, fold it up, keep it on your cutting board. That acid will be drawn to the wet paper towel and not your tear ducts.”
Like we said above, propyl sulfoxide is drawn towards water. Hence, when we’re cutting onions the acid is drawn towards our tear ducts as the nearest water source.
So the hack goes that if you put a closer water source, such as a wet paper towel, on your chopping board the acid will be drawn to that instead.
Onion hack? via @cerealeatingghost
That logic checks out, but does the hack work?
TikTok hack-busters @partyshirt gave the tip a try. The result? It works! The duo said they’d been chopping onions for hours without a single tear shed. Who would’ve guessed a wet paper towel would be the end of so many unnecessary tears shed?
Keen to give this hack a try for yourself? We’ll give you some onion-based recipes for the road.