Why does this happen? Basically, onions absorb sulfur from the ground and keep it in their cells. When we break the cells with our knife, the gasses are released and they mix with the moisture in our eyes. And that irritates the eyes, making us cry to get rid of the irritant.
|Effective? Maybe. Disturbing? Oh yeah.|
There are lots of "remedies" for preventing onion tears. I just found an article from the food section of the Huffington Post that gives 8 of them.
Some of the suggestions make you look goofy--wearing onion goggles or chewing bread while chopping. Some of them are just wasteful--cutting out the "gassy" parts of the onion (about 1/3 of the bulb). And there's the old wives' tale of burning candles while chopping.
I was glad, though, to see that the list includes what I have always believed was the only way to truly stop the tears--use a very sharp knife. With a sharp knife, you don't smash the onion's cells (and push out the tear-causing gasses). The less trauma you cause to the cells, the less gas escapes and the less tears will run down your face.
Check out the list--have you tried any of them? Do you have any to add? Let me know!