Strainer vs Filter – What’s the Difference?

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Strainer vs Filter

When buying various equipment for a home or a commercial kitchen, you may run across both strainers and filters, devices that perform a very similar role.

However, there remain many differences between a strainer and a filter, particularly when trying to remove unwanted particles or suspended particles.

They also differ in fluid flow and their general overall operation. These simple factors are not so basic on the surface and can impact how well your filtering item works for your needs as a consumer or a homeowner.

In this article, we’ll define the nature of a strainer and give you an idea of how they operate in a kitchen or industrial setting. Then, we’ll look at filters and how you can use them in your kitchen or other ways.

Just as importantly, we’ll define the primary differences between these items and give you an idea of which filtration media makes the most sense for your needs as a buyer.

By the time you’re done, you should feel comfortable making this vital purchasing decision without worrying about having made a mistake.

Using a fine filter or strainer, you’ll also know how to remove suspended particles with efficient filtration.

What is a Strainer?

different types of strainers

Strainers typically come in a handful of different types and may be used for kitchens, bars, and industrial facilities.

Understanding each of these options will make your purchase easier and give you a better chance of buying the correct item.

Just as importantly, you can learn the differences and similarities between each option and how they compare to filters serving the same purpose.

Kitchen Uses

draining pasta in a colander on the sink

A strainer is a device designed to remove unwanted particulates from the liquid of an entire system and usually focuses on larger particles than a filter. Just think of your kitchen strainer at home to get an idea of they operate.

A colander works by letting water or other liquid through large holes but captures large particles, such as your spaghetti noodles, and prevents them from passing through with your liquid.

Commercial Kitchen Use

In a commercial kitchen setting, strainers may be much more extensive and include an entire system designed to handle unwanted particulates in your liquid.

They may also use a reverse flow method to help prevent damage to the unit. This method helps to keep water flowing smoothly and captures particles without having them flow backward.

Commercial kitchens may use this option to catch significant bits of food as they move through a unit’s grease management system and the liquid throughout.

Downstream Concerns

Commercial kitchens may also use better equipment downstream, meaning that they may have various flow-control units that minimize excessive speeds.

This process helps keep the strainer more robust by reducing wear and tear on its moving parts. Industrial strainers may contain many such parts, including pumps that help control flow and efficiency through a filtration system.

Bar Uses

Many bartenders use a variety of strainers to produce a variety of different drinks from multiple types of liquid. The primary difference between these two types is the drinks they process.

For instance, Hawthrone strainers remove solid materials from the beer, including various types of lime or lemon materials. Hawthorne strainers also use a metal spring and screw to catch this material in a minimal pressure element.

Julep Trainers

julep strainer

A Julep strainer is used to produce Mint Juleps and other similar drinks. It is a perforated bowl-shaped cup with a handle that users can use to keep ice and mint out of their drink.

These days, Julep strainers may be commonly used to produce a variety of different drink types and is a common option. Both strainers may be in bars and protect drinks from getting too filled with solid objects of any element.

Kitchen Strainer Differences

These strainers may also be more substantial than kitchen strainers, using stainless steel to minimize long-term damage.

Their mesh size may be smaller, as well, to help manage flow rate more effectively. The idea behind these strainers is to ensure that a drink is smooth and tasty, as drink fans don’t want contaminants or other element items like orange rind floating in their cocktail when visiting bars.

Industrial Strainers

industrial strainer

The primary difference between industrial strainers and kitchen strainers is their scope. Industrial strainers may use high-pressure water flow to strain various items in an industrial setting.

For instance, sewage treatment facilities may use a strainer to remove fecal matter and urine particulate elements from freshwater for different applications.

The micron rating and maintenance need are typically higher, meaning smaller surface particles are trapped in a critical way.

Important Factors to Consider

These items also use various types of downstream equipment that help to minimize unnecessary strain on the unit’s operation.

For instance, this downstream equipment helps manage flow rate and typically utilizes a stainless steel design to help remove contaminants.

Filtration experts may be necessary for installing and maintaining these unique units to prevent serious operational strain when straining larger particles.

Adjustment Needs

Just as significantly, filtration experts may help by adjusting the stainless steel mesh or changing the mesh size.

This situation is serious because improper mesh size may cause larger objects to flow through a strainer than necessary.

Sometimes, these filtration experts may find that a stainless steel filter is essential, one with a better micron rating, on downstream equipment and other stainless steel unit elements.

What is a Filter?

Filters and strainers may not seem too different to most people. If you search filters and strainers online, you may find they’re often used interchangeably on many websites. However, that mistake is unfortunate because filters and strainers are pretty different.

So let’s take a look at filters now to give you an idea of the many differences between filters and strainers in various markets.

Kitchen Uses

water filtration system

Kitchen filters operate similarly to how strainers work. The main difference between filters and strainers lies in the particles they remove.

Typically, filters are designed for much smaller particles than a strainer.

Often, filters separate particles the naked eye cannot see from your liquid, removing these contaminants that you’d easily miss. These include micron viruses, bacteria, and even various minerals.

Home and Commercial Use

faucet filter

As a result, a stainless steel filter likely goes onto various drinking water sources throughout a home or commercial kitchen.

For instance, stainless steel filters may fit on your sink to provide safe water for cooking and drinking.

However, filters may also go onto your stainless steel water source to provide a whole-home or building level of protection.

Cleaning Needs

Remember: these contaminants may be too small to see with your naked eye, so don’t expect to see much when cleaning your filter.

Other Uses

Filters and strainers like these help in a variety of different pressure situations, including ability with high and low pressure. A filter may be a water container, such as a stainless steel can with a filter stored in your refrigerator to hold liquid and process contamination.

Bar Uses

Bars use filters for the same purpose you do in kitchens. However, a bar filter may be a bit larger or more robust, using stainless steel for a strong design and shape.

These filters and strainers vary based on a bar’s needs, as some may need a filter on their drink dispenser or filters placed on their stainless steel water system to handle flow rate and minimize filter issues.

Different Design Elements


Like kitchen filters, bar filters and strainers handle variable flow rates, remove various particles, provide extensive filtration help, require regular cleaning, and use an inlet system to provide strong filtration.

As with a kitchen, the items removed may be smaller than the naked eye can see. Filters like these filter out potential heavy metals and other dangerous things to keep a bar safe.

Making Your Filters Legal

Check with your state officials about bar filters to see what system you need for your filtration. They may provide information on various filters or even filters and strainers you can use for your bar.

For instance, they may have stainless steel filters or other types that you can use to minimize your cleaning.

Learn More From Your State

Your state may even demand specific filters and filter designs to make sure you know what your laws say about bar filtration and the pressure and system designs you need for your inlet.

They can also provide service and maintenance to ensure your stainless steel filtration components are employed properly and with efficiency.

Industrial Uses

Industrial stainless steel filters can filter out various items that a strainer cannot. The difference between filters and strainers here lies in not just the pressure used by the materials your filter or strainer removes.

Typically, filters filter smaller and more delicate items than strainers or a strainer. They focus on not visible items and use higher pressure to capture these items in the fluid or gas.

Improved Efficiency

This process provides maximum efficiency by pressing fluid with particulates through a fine mesh filter.

Filters of this type may use pumps or a vacuum to power fluid, cleaning out the fluid and removing particulates of small shapes.

You’re likely to see this type of filter in facilities that produce a rich array of waste and need filters to handle small items that strainers can’t find.

Strainer and Filter Differences

However, the difference between strainers and filters may cause both types to be used in an industrial setting. For example, strainers or a strainer can capture large particles before filters then filter out the fluid with various pressure needs.

When finished, cleaning may be necessary to ensure that the filters and strainers are not damaged and keep each filter and strainer in a great filtration state.

Making a Tough Choice

If you’re still trying to determine which filter or strainer is suitable for you, it is vital to get more information from the manufacturer.

They can tell you about the specific filtration application for each filter and strainer, let you know more about the mesh, and discuss gas element items.

Other Ways They Help

They can also give you an idea of efficiency, talk about particulates, and determine which filtration option is right for your specific application and efficiency needs.

Working with a manufacturer also helps narrow down your choices by finding out what types of filters and strainers are suited for your liquids and visible element filtration needs.

Fluids and Filtration

A manufacturer can also talk about more information, like the different fluids and liquids you typically use for the filtration of each particulate in the visible mesh.

They’ll also discuss the form your filter takes, the differences between their function, the filtration process, and if they work with oil particulate and other critical maintenance needs.