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This article is about the cooking tool. For other uses, see Sieve (disambiguation).
Metal sifters

A sieve, or sifter, is a device for separating wanted elements from unwanted material or for characterizing the particle size distribution of a sample, typically using a woven screen such as a mesh or net.[1] The word "sift" derives from 'sieve'. In cooking, a sifter is used to separate and break up clumps in dry ingredients such as flour, as well as to aerate and combine them. A strainer is a form of sieve used to separate solids from liquid.

Industrial strainer[edit]

Some of industrial strainers available are simplex basket strainer, duplex basket strainer, and Y strainer. Simple basket strainer is used to protect valuable or sensitive equipment in systems that is meant to be shut down temporarily. Some commonly used strainers are bell mouth strainers, foot valve strainers, basket strainers etc.;[2]


Hand sieving is a simple technique for separating particles of different sizes. A small sieve such as used for sifting flour has very small holes. Coarse particles are separated or broken up by grinding against one-another and screen openings. Depending upon the types of particles to be separated, sieves with different types of holes are used. Sieves are also used to separate stones from sand. Triage sieving refers to grouping people according to their severity of injury.

Wooden sieves[edit]

A wooden mesh in which the withes were one eighth of an inch wide and set the same distance apart. This would be used on an English farm of the Victorian era to sift grain, removing dust and soil.

A wooden sieve is a sieve made of wood. The mesh might be made from wood or wicker. Use of wood to avoid contamination is important when the sieve is used for sampling.[3] Henry Stephens, in his Book of the Farm, advised that the withes of a wooden riddle or sieve would be made from fir, willow with American elm being best. The rims would be made of fir, oak or, especially, beech.[4]

US Standard Test Sieve Series[edit]

A sieve analysis (or gradation test) is a practice or procedure used (commonly used in civil engineering) to assess the particle size distribution (also called gradation) of a granular material. Sieve sizes used in combinations of four to eight sieves.
Designations and Nominal Sieve Openings[5]

Tyler (inch/#) Sieve (inch/#) Sieve Opening (in) Sieve Opening (mm)
- 5 inch 5.0 125
- 4.24 inch 4.24 106
- 4 inch 4.0 100
- 3-1/2 inch 3.5 90
2.97 inch 3.0 inch 3.0 75
- 2-1/2 inch 2.5 63
- 2.12 inch 2.12 53
2.10 inch 2 inch 2.00 50
- 1-3/4 inch 1.75 45
1.48 inch 1-1/2 inch 1.50 37.5
- 1-1/4 inch 1.25 31.5
1.05 inch 1.06 inch 1.06 26.5
- 1 inch 1.00 25.0
0.883 inch 7/8 inch 0.875 22.4
0.742 inch 3/4 inch 0.750 19.0
0.624 inch 5/8 inch 0.625 16.0
0.525 inch 0.530 inch 0.530 13.2
- 1/2 inch 0.500 12.5
0.441 inch 7/16 inch 0.438 11.2
0.371 inch 3/8 inch 0.375 9.5

Other types of sieves[edit]

  • Chinoise, or conical sieve used as a strainer, also sometimes used like a food mill
  • Cocktail strainer, a bar accessory
  • Colander, a (typically) bowl-shaped sieve used as a strainer in cooking
  • Flour sifter or bolter, used in flour production and baking.
  • Graduated sieves, used to separate varying small sizes of material, often soil, rock or minerals
  • Mesh strainer, or just "strainer", usually consisting of a fine metal mesh screen on a metal frame
  • Spider, used in Chinese cooking
  • Tamis, also known as a drum sieve
  • Tea strainer, specifically intended for use when making tea
  • Zaru, or bamboo sieve, used in Japanese cooking

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ruhlman, Michael; Bourdain, Anthony (2007). The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen. Simon and Schuster. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-4391-7252-0. 
  2. ^ Article on "Industrial Strainer" retrieved 15th October 2013 from
  3. ^ B. De Vivo; Harvey Belkin; Annamaria Lima (2008). Environmental Geochemistry: Site Characterization, Data Analysis and Case Histories: Site Characterization, Data Analysis and Case Histories. Elsevier. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-08-055895-0. 
  4. ^ Henry Stephens (1852), The Book of the Farm 1, W. Blackwood, pp. 414–416 
  5. ^ Thomas J Glover (1989), Pocket Ref,Second Edition, Sequoia Publishing Inc., p. 326