Make a sieve popcorn cooker

June 18, 2018

Cooking popcorn in sieves is a wonderful visual experience – here’s how to make your own.

woman holding a sieve popcorn cooker on a pole
Author: Muddy Faces

Age Range: 6+

Duration: less than an hour

Location: anywhere

Time Of Day: any time

Season: any

Tags: campfire cooking, popcorn, tools

Category: * what's new * bushcraft & survival food outdoors


Making your own popcorn sieve cooker is a great way to cook popcorn so you can hear and see the kernels changing form.
Have you ever thought about why the kernels pop? In the centre of the kernel is a small amount of water, and as the kernel heats up so does the water. As the water changes to steam it expands and the increase in pressure causes the kernel to explode!
There are many ways to make your popcorn maker and lots of different people will have a preferred method. The following method has been developed to help overcome niggly, problems like the whole lot falling off the end of your pole into the fire and also to give you some nifty tips for quick release.


You will need

  • 2 stainless steel sieves (the type of sieve is important for the longevity of your sieve cooker – try to avoid fine aluminium, obviously plastic, and mesh sieves, as the wire is much thinner and too closely weaved)
  • pole (approx. 1 metre in length)
  • wire cutters/pliers
  • 2 x 25cm lengths of thin steel wire or welding wire (you may want to wear gloves when working with the wire)
  • an extra length of wire, or an O ring and clips, for opening and shutting the sieve to release the popcorn
equipment needed to make a sieve popcorn cooker: sieves, wire, pliers and pole

Environmental considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing for, carrying out & ending the activity. Could this impact be reduced? A few considerations specific to this activity are:

  • source of pole
  • ensure all discarded wire is collected

Health & safety considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments. A few considerations particular to this activity are:

  • using tools
  • sharp wire

Step 1 – drill a hole at the top of the pole

The pole needs to be approximately 1 metre in length. Adding these drilled holes will give the wire a static place to grip, as they can often slip up and down the outside of the pole.

The pole needs 2 holes drilled through it –

  • 1 an inch from the ‘top’ of the pole (to prevent side to side movement of the sieve)
  • the other to hold the base of the sieve handle in place (to prevent movement up and down) – see below for how to locate the spot for the 2nd hole

Make sure your pole is clamped securely in place before drilling. See our drilling a pole guide for more info.

Step 2 – mark up the position of the 2nd hole

Once you have made the first hole in your pole you are ready to mark up the second hole.

Place the pole on the workbench with the ‘top’ hole in a horizontal plane (twist the stick 90 degrees from 1st hole).

Place the sieve in position on the pole ensuring that the top of the sieve handle (nearest to mesh) is above the ‘top’ hole in the pole.

Mark up the second hole just below the bottom of the handle.

marking a place to drill through a pole for sieve popcorn cooker

Step 3 – drill the 2nd hole

Reposition and clamp the pole on the workbench ensuring that the hole at the ‘top’ of the pole is still in a horizontal plane (twisted 90 degrees from the 1st hole).

Drill your 2nd hole and your pole should look like this (see image right). We have added the sticks so that you can see how the holes should look.

Step 4 – attach the wire to the sieve

Attach the wire to the sieve handle by wrapping the wire securely around one side of the handle at the top nearest the mesh of the sieve.

close up of wire attached to sieve handle

Step 5 – attach the sieve to the pole

There is no right or wrong way to attach the sieve to the pole. The main aim is for the sieve not to slip around when in use as a popcorn cooker.

Place the sieve on the end of the pole with the mesh bowl facing upwards (this enables the second sieve to be fitted without the pole being placed inbetween the two sieves, which would prevent it from shutting).

Thread the loose end of the wire that is attached to the sieve handle through the top hole.

wiring the handle of a sieve to a pole