Sifter vs Strainer – What’s the Difference?

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Sifter vs Strainer

Sifters and fine mesh strainers provide similar benefits but operate in slightly different ways. For example, a sifter can help separate dry ingredients like flour and is used to sift heavier packets of these items from the finer end product.

They also provide a similar industrial-level purpose for commercial kitchens. On the other hand, a strainer typically works with more extensive materials and may also be used for cooking or industrial needs when sifting flour or performing other essential duties.

Suppose you’re interested in these devices for cooking food and removing clumps and particles from your baking dough. In that case, you need to know how they differ, as both may be used to break up lumps of various particles in commercial or industrial settings.

However, both serve slightly different purposes, so knowing the difference between these items is crucial. In this article, you’ll learn more about how each operates, and the different sizes of material elements like these help break apart when used for cooking or liquid management.

What is a Sifter?

A sifter or flour sifter is used to sort coarse particles from lighter ones, such as removing thick chunks of powdered sugar or cocoa powder from the finer powders. These devices may be used in kitchen and industrial settings and include various designs.

Here, we’ll break down how a fine mesh strainer is used in kitchens and industrial environments and the material size that each can filter through their screen openings. This should explain the difference between these items and which is right for you.

flour sifter

Kitchen Uses (Sift Flour and More)

A flour sifter for sifting flour typically comes with a metal basket and a handle that helps control the material that sifts through various thick materials like powdered sugar and cocoa powder. The handle lets you gently tap the mesh to prevent broken materials and minimize serious particle issues.

When you do, this shakes the finer materials through the mesh to leave behind the coarse particles. You can use it for a variety of different materials, which we’ll break down below to give you a better understanding of how sifters are used to separate these materials with a sieve and into different types of bag designs.


Cake Preparation (Handle Cocoa Powder)

Sifters can help with cakes and other dessert recipes in a variety of ways. They can help with sifting dry ingredients, like powdered sugar, during preparation. When you sift flour and powder, you make them easier to mix with your liquid materials. It can help in a variety of ways, including keeping your cake moist and improving its overall taste.

Why They Help With a Cake

Kitchen tools like these are used to separate these heavy items and make it easier to prevent a dense and unattractive cake. Sifting with a sifter will ensure that the cake retains a bouncy feel that can make all the difference between a good and bad cake – specifically when it comes to making delicate cakes.

Cookie Preparation

When making cookies, you may use a sifter or a sieve to sift your flour, confectioners sugar, and other dry ingredients before baking. A sifter helps to sift through the clumps in ingredients and makes mixing them with liquid items easier. When you’re sifting dry ingredients such as confectioners sugar, a sieve makes the batter much easier when working with just one hand.

Other Ways They Help With Cookies

This sieve design may also help remove clumps from your batter and make your food easier to handle before baking. Light sifting often makes the difference for many baking experiences, as your sifter can sift through heavy particles that would otherwise make your cookies clumpy and broken. An avid baker will often sift dry ingredients to remove unwanted material.

dusting a dough with flour

Making Sauce

A sifter or sieve can help when cooking various solid or liquid sauces, including food as diverse as pizza and Tzatziki. A sifter separates the flour and other cooking items from your food, getting rid of clumps and particles from your sauces and foods.

Why This Matters

In this way, baking should be easier, as you can use sifters to sift above a bowl and produce the high-quality sauces you want. You may also use a strainer to provide similar kitchen preparation needs.

Industrial Uses

Industrial sifters help commercial baking facilities handle large amounts of dough and other ingredients. Sifting with these sieve devices can help with flour, various types of powder, and much more.

How They Differ From Home Sifters

They typically include a much larger bowl than home-based sifters to help with a large amount of flour. A sifter of this type may also have a sieve to sift through other materials and other tools to answer your powder grinding needs and keep your materials moist or dry.

Filtration Size

Filtration is much smaller than a strainer and perfect for flour needs. Their overall size can vary between sizes between 3-100 microns. Electronic tools may include a much smaller net that captures appropriate materials to ensure your flour and meal taste is not adversely affected.

What is a Fine Mesh Strainer?

A strainer removes solid materials from water or other fluids, including chunks of flour from your mixes. A strainer typically has much larger holes and works with more extensive materials and may be used to ensure a high-quality taste for your meals. They also help with a variety of other steps in a commercial or industrial setting, ensuring a higher quality of work for your needs.

Kitchen Uses

Before preparation, your strainer typically uses a basket-shaped design to remove flour and other ingredients. For example, you may pour a bowl of spaghetti noodles into a strainer to remove the water and hold the noodles. A strainer may also help remove other heavy items from your water, such as various heavy metals that may exist throughout your water source.


Material Types

A kitchen strainer maybe stainless steel, tinned steel, nylon, cloth, and aluminum. The type varies depending on your specific kitchen needs. Often, a strainer can be used for general meal preparation, such as removing flour to improve taste, but may also be used for hotter and more dangerous materials.

Industrial Uses

An industrial strainer could help commercial kitchens sort through heavy flour or other materials. However, an industrial strainer may also go on the end of various industrial pipes to help with gas, power, automotive, petrochemical, and other fuel management needs.

Common Materials

An industrial strainer works on the same basic mechanics as a kitchens trainer but may be made from bronze, copper, stainless steel, and other items. They use these more substantial materials to catch items as diverse as fecal matter, dirt, and even animals like mice or snakes in pipes.

Filtration Size

A strainer has much larger openings that can range from about 50 microns to 740 microns. These sizes will vary depending on how you use the strainer. For example, a kitchen strainer will have much larger openings than an industrial option due to its various different uses. Talking to the manufacturer should make your purchase smoother and easier to understand.

Typical Sizes

A strainer typically has a size between 0.0020 inches (0.05 millimeter) and 0.030 inches (0.74 millimeters) for industrial strainer use. A kitchen strainer will have much larger holes to let through water, though not too large that your ingredients fall out. Make sure to carefully choose the option that makes the most sense for you before purchasing one of these devices.

Pick an Item That Meets Your Needs

Now that you know how these items differ, you can make an intelligent purchasing decision. Let’s break down a few of these elements below to make it easier for you to make this purchasing decision. While you may purchase both if you need them, you can use this guide to ensure you don’t make any problematic purchasing choices.

straining chopped leeks

When You Want a Strainer

For example, do you need a tool that helps with thick liquids and generally leaves behind fine juices for your kitchen or industrial needs?

Then, you may want a strainer. They help remove things like berries, noodles, and other materials from liquids and leave these items separated and protected.

When You Want a Sifter

Generally, you’ll want a sifter for solid materials, as this tool often includes a sieve that a strainer may not. On the other hand, you’ll most likely use a sifter for your flour separation needs.

Though you may put a piece of cloth over the end of a strainer to produce a similar result, a sifter will ultimately do a better job separating heavy solids and preventing them from getting moist.


Should You Buy Both?

You may also want to buy both of these tools, if necessary, for your kitchen, as they both serve different but complementary needs. Many home and industrial kitchens will find that sifters and strainers provide major benefits.

If your budget can afford it, you should purchase both. When using sifters and strainers in the same kitchen, you improve your preparation abilities.

Do You Buy Strainers or Sifters If You’re On a Tight Budget?

If you’re on a tight budget that doesn’t allow a lot of variation, focus on which items serve your needs best. For example, a sifter is great for baked goods and is a necessity for many kitchens.

However, strainers also help with noodle or pasta preparation, so make sure you take these facts into account and focus on what type of foods you’re more likely to produce.