Seed Cleaning Screens, Check Them Out!

Hello Seedfolks! The Seed Library has seed cleaning screens available for you to check-out with your library card.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You can find them in the online catalog and reserve them or you can head down to the Sam Lena-South Tucson Library to see what screens are on hand
  • They check out for 3 weeks and cannot be renewed
  • You can check out more than one screen—it’s likely you will need at least two
  • Quantities are limited, so the sizes you’re looking for may not always be available—please check back later!

How to select your screens:

Step 1) Find the screen that is just barely bigger than the seeds you plan to clean.

You will shake the seeds through this screen, putting another, finer screen, or baking sheet underneath it to catch the seeds.

Step 2) Next, find the screen that is just slightly smaller than the seed.

This screen will be used for shaking out the smaller chaff.  What will be left is the seed and a small amount of chaff that is the same size as the seed (this chaff is usually much lighter than the seed and will rise to the top if you give the seeds a little shake).  Still shaking, work the seed/chaff mixture toward the inside edge screen by tilting the screen down in the front being careful not to spill the seeds.  Then carefully and gently blow across the top of the seed, blowing the chaff away.  What you now have in the screen is pretty likely pretty clean.

If you’re more visually oriented (like us!) we recommend checking out some of the many great YouTube videos on how to use seed cleaning screens, like this one from the Seedkeepers, opens a new window. Or check out one of the many books on seed saving, opens a new window for step-by-step tips on using seed cleaning screens, as well as other seed cleaning methods.

Here are the opening sizes for the screens (the distance between the wires) in millimeters:

  • #1 screen = 5.1 mm: Good for larger seeds such as: beans, corn, peas, okra, chickpeas, and hollyhocks
  • #2 screen= 3.3 mm: Good for medium-large seeds such as: sorghum, fennel, cilantro, beets, asparagus, and small sunflower varieties
  • #3 screen = 2.2 mm: Good for medium seeds such as: radish, parsley, cilantro, carrots, broccoli, and spinach
  • #4 screen = 1.65 mm: Good for small-medium seeds such as: arugula, lettuce, celery, mustard, and cauliflower
  • #5 screen = 1.39 mm: Good for small seeds such as: arugula, lettuce, chives, flax, parsley, and cauliflower
  • #6 screen = 1.29 mm: Good for tiny seeds such as: basil, poppies, parsley, chives, celery, and chia
  • #7 screen = .76 mm: Good for teeny seeds such as: basil, poppies, amaranth, and tobacco
  • #8 screen =.38 mm: Good for teeny-tiny seeds such as tobacco, poppies, and chamomile

Care and handling:

Please help us keep these screens in good shape for future seed savers and store the screens indoors when not in use. Be careful to not put excessive palm force on the screens when trying to push seeds and chaff through them, especially when the screens are grounded on a table (instead of hand-held in the air).