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Dreamy Pisces season is upon us.

What can make you cry more than watching The Notebook for the first time? A darn onion. Seriously, the moment I slice into one of these big ol’ orbs, it’s instant waterworks and an avalanche of uncontrollable tears that won’t stop streaming down my face until the duty is finally done and I can let out an audible, “oh, thank god.” I mean, letting out a good cry now and then can feel great, but when it comes to chopping onions for dinner, not so much.

If only we knew how to stop crying when chopping onions to spare us—and the millions of other onion victims—some of the pain. Thankfully, Eric Rowse, a lead chef-instructor of culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, has a few simple solutions rolled up the sleeve of his chef’s coat to spare you some tears when chopping, dicing, and slicing onions.

Why do onions make you cry?

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room—why on earth do onions make you cry so darn much? They may not hurt your feelings, but they sure do hurt your eyeballs. According to Rowse, the short answer is simple: sulfuric acid. But how can an invisible gas seemingly cause so much destruction?

Onions and other alliums—like garlic, shallot, leeks, chives, ramps, green onion—are great at absorbing sulfur,” Rowse explains. “When we cut onions and effectively break down cell walls within them, the sulfur compounds, mixed with amino acids from the onion, get squeezed out into the air.” This is where things start to get sticky. Once this combo is exposed to oxygen and comes into contact with the water around your eye, it creates sulfuric acid, according to Rowse. “The sulfuric acid irritates your eyes, making them tear up,” he says. “It’s the body’s defense trying to flush out the irritant.” Big freaking sigh.

Keep in mind that the more you cut an onion, the more sulfur compounds are released into the air, hence the more teary-eyed you’ll get. Plus, the environment you’re working in can also play a big role in how many tears you’ll shed while dicing onions. “If you’re cutting onions in a hot environment the waterworks are going to come sooner and be more intense,” Rowse says. “Cold onions can slow down the onset of tears a little.”

So, is any allium, like say garlic, bound to cause the same reaction? Rowse says it can, but it’s not as likely because they tend to be smaller than onions and thus absorb less sulfur and release less gas into the air when cut. “If you’re cutting a lot of smaller alliums in a poorly ventilated space and you have sensitive eyes, then yes, but still not as bad,” he says. Phew.

And what about a red onion versus a sweet onion? “I feel a lot of people would say yellow [or sweet] onions [make you cry the most], but I would almost argue that’s because they’re the most common. In my experience, I don’t see much of a difference between yellow, white, or red. But other less harsh-tasting alliums will make you cry less,” Rowse says. Choose wisely, fam.

How to stop crying when cutting onions once and for all

Ahead Rowse shares four foolproof ways to make the task much more manageable. Trust me, you’ll be so happy with these solutions you’ll likely get teary-eyed (but in the best way possible).

1. Use a sharp knife

According to Rowse, the number-one way to stop crying when cutting onions is to keep your knives sharp. That’s because the sharper the knife, the safer the onion-cutting session will be (not only for your fingers but also for your tear ducts). “If you cut onions with a dull knife, instead of making a clean cut through the cell walls of the onion, you end up crushing the cells, spraying more of those sulfur compounds out in the air,” Rowse says. So, learn how to sharpen your knives like a pro to avoid having to reach for the tissue box over and over again.

2. Chill the onions (for a little bit)

If you tend to keep your onions on the kitchen counter 24/7, Rowse says you may want to consider popping them in the fridge for a few minutes ahead of slicing and dicing instead. That’s because the colder the onion, the less likely it’ll make you cry. Pretty cool, right? “Chilling the onions can decrease how far the droplets carry in the air—although, don’t store your onions in the fridge,” Rowse says. A cold and humid environment can cause the onions to spoil faster. But chilling them for just a few minutes won’t do too much harm to your precious Vidalias.

3. Use a fan to keep the area well-ventilated

Rowse says a fan can be used to blow the fumes away. “But don’t direct it at someone else,” he cautions. Yep, even your worst enemy doesn’t deserve to be subjected to the pain of tear-inducing onions.

4. Accessorize accordingly

If you’re dealing with particularly strong onions, Rowse says you may want to call in the reinforcements: goggles. Indeed, it may look comical, but it’s one of the best ways to effectively shield your eyes from absorbing the fumes. “One can wear swim or ski goggles that are tight-fitting [around the eyes] to prevent the vapor from coming into contact with their eyes,” he says. Safety goggles will also suffice, FYI. “They’re not exactly a fashion statement, but it does technically work. Plus, they also make ‘onion goggles,’ which follow the same concept.”

Alliums on your mind? Here’s the 411 on garlic:

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