Peanuts can be explosive and other amazing food facts

How much do you know about food we commonly eat?

Why do onions make you cry? And can apple seeds poison you? Read about these five fascinating food facts to get the answers. Food is the theme for events taking place during Science Week 2015 which continues into the weekend.

1. Why do onions make you cry?

Cutting onions releases a gas which causes a stinging sensation when it comes into contact with your eyes. Your body produces tears to dilute the irritant and remove it from your eyes.

2. Is it dangerous to eat apple seeds?


Apple seeds contain a cyanide compound, but it is measured in such small quantities that it causes no harm. You would have to eat bags of the seeds and even then the seeds have a protective coating that keeps the compound inside.

3. Why does toast go toasty?

When you heat the bread in a toaster it makes amino acids and carbohydrates in the bread react with one another, making the toast go brown (or black if you don’t keep watching). There is even a name for it, the Maillard reaction.

4. How could coconut water save your life?

Coconut water can actually be used as a substitute for blood plasma, but only if there was a real emergency situation. This is something you wouldn’t want to try at home.

5. When do peanuts become explosive?

Peanuts, or rather their oil, can create quite a bang if used to make dynamite. The oil makes glycerol, which in turn can be used to make nitro-glycerine, a key ingredient of dynamite. Peanuts aren’t essential however and other ingredients can be used instead.

Questions thanks to Science Foundation Ireland, organisers of Science Week.

There are still plenty of events to attend and shows to see on the Science Week programme which continues into the weekend.

Events are planned all over the island and there are science festivals underway in Galway, Cork, Sligo and the Midlands amongst others.

Visit for details of the many events taking place in the coming days.

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former Science Editor.