Cutting onions can irritate their eyes so much that they have to slap on goggles to keep from crying. It’s a totally radical look—but the right idea: You need a barrier to protect your eyes from the sulfurous compounds released by slicing an onion. “If the vapor can’t reach your eyes, then it’s not going to irritate them,” says Rachel Bishop, M.D., chief of consult services for the NIH’s National Eye Institute.
Of course, cooking in swim gear isn’t for everyone, especially if guests are in the kitchen. So try freezing out the enemy: Chilling the onion before chopping it can slow the chemical reactions that release the pungent fumes.
Other tricks include using a fan to blow the vapors away, or cutting the bulbs in a bowl of water. You can also try different onion varities, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla. These sweeter onions don’t have as many of the tear-triggering compounds, so they might not have the same power to turn you into a blubbering mess.