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Sieve facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
A sieve as it is commonly used in the kitchen.

A sieve, fine mesh strainer, or sift is a device that is able to separate particles of different sizes. The most primitive sieve has holes of a given size, so that the particles that are smaller than the size will fall through, while those that are bigger will not.

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 (see Colander), meanwhile, is a form of sieve used to separate suspended solids from a liquid by filtration.


Sieving is a simple technique for separating particles of different sizes. 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. Sieving plays an important role in food industries where sieves (often vibrating) are used to prevent the contamination of the product by foreign bodies.

Wooden sieves

Wooden sieve one eighth mesh
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.

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

US standard test sieve series

A sieve analysis (or gradation test) is a practice or procedure used (commonly used in civil engineering or sedimentology) 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
Tyler Sieve Sieve opening
(in) (mm)
5 inch 5.0 125
4.24 inch 4.24 106
4 inch 4.0 100
3+12 inch 3.5 90
2.97 inch 3.0 inch 3.0 75
2+12 inch 2.5 63
2.12 inch 2.12 53
2.10 inch 2 inch 2.00 50
1+34 inch 1.75 45
1.48 inch 1+12 inch 1.50 37.5
1+14 inch 1.25 31.5
1.05 inch 1.06 inch 1.06 26.5
1 inch 1.00 25.0
0.883 inch 78 inch 0.875 22.4
0.742 inch 34 inch 0.750 19.0
0.624 inch 58 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 716 inch 0.438 11.2
0.371 inch 38 inch 0.375 9.5

Other types

  • Chinois, 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
    • Laundry strainer, to drain boiling water from laundry removed from a Wash copper, usually with a wooden frame to facilitate manual handling with hot contents
  • Pickle lifter
  • Riddle, used for soil
  • 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
Other uses
  • "Sieve" is a common term used in trash-talk referring to a goaltender in ice hockey who lets in too many goals
  • "Leaks like a sieve" is an English language idiom to describe a container that has multiple leaks, or, by allegory, an organization whose confidential information is routinely disclosed to the public.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Cedazo para niños

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