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  • 1/5/2011

Easy solutions for the bad smell of onion


Depending on the variety, an onion can be sharp, spicy, tangy, pungent, mild or sweet. They are commonly used as a base for curries, or made into a paste and eaten as a main course or as a side dish. Unfortunately, after chopping onions, you may notice that you still have the odor of them on your hands for many hours after. As delicious as onions are, walking around smelling like them is another story.

While this aroma may not be the worst we can encounter in our lives, onion smell is something we probably want to eliminate as quickly as possible. When we have sliced onions during meal preparation or used onions in a recipe, the odor lingers in the air for quite some time.

You should be able to get some immediate “relief” from the smell of onions by lighting a kitchen match, holding it for a few seconds, then blowing it out. The burning sulfur and other parts of the match should mask much of the onion smell.

Onion Smell Removal

• Wear gloves. That’ll keep the onion smell off of your hands.

• Peeling the onion and then chilling it in the refrigerator before you slice will minimize the release of gas somewhat, because the change in temperature alters the compounds in the onion. Cooking an onion before you slice it will also work for the same reason. Another easy solution is to cut the onion underwater or run the tap over it as you slice.

• Take a tablespoon or more of everyday table salt in the palm of your hands. Mix with cold water into a paste, then rub all over your hands. Rinse off and dry. Not only will the salt get rid of the odor, but it’ll also exfoliate your hands, making them much softer! If you don’t have salt, or if it doesn’t work, try baking soda (bicarbonate of soda), sugar or coffee grinds. Sugar has the advantage of not hurting any open cuts that might be on your hands.

tomato juice

• Dip your hands in tomato juice for at least five minutes. Then, rinse your hands with liquid detergent in cold water. Just make sure the tomato juice or paste isn’t expired.

• Rub your hands against stainless steel metal (a kitchen sink works well) under cold running water for about a minute; rubbing with a large metal spoon works, too. It’s suspected that the sulfur molecules that create the distinctive onion smell react with the metal(s) in the stainless steel and become neutralized.

• Squeeze some lemon juice into a bowl. Dip your hands in for 3 minutes, then rinse off. Your hands will smell like fresh lemons instead of onions! If you don’t have lemon juice or it doesn’t work, try vinegar or mouthwash.

• Onions and garlic contain amino acid sulfoxides, which form sulfenic acids, which then form a volatile gas (propanethiol S-oxide), which forms sulfuric acid upon exposure to water. These sulfuric compounds are responsible for onions burning your eyes while cutting them and also for garlic’s characteristic scent. If you don’t have steel handy, you can make a paste of baking soda, (bicarbonate of soda) and water and rub it over your hands, then wash off. The odor will disappear with the soda.

lemon juice

• Squeeze toothpaste or pour a small amount of mouthwash on one palm, then rub your hands together. Rinse with water.


Air, Please!

In addition to one of the simple suggestions already mentioned you should probably open the windows to allow the onion smell to mix with fresh air from outside. You may even want to do this for a short time in winter. You can also help get rid of onion smell by keeping the air circulating in the home. If you have a forced-air furnace, run the fan for a short time. Put a small, free-standing fan in the doorway of your kitchen to pull the air out.

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