Get Creamy Goodness: How to Use a Manual Cream Separator?

By Dairy Farming Hut

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Manual cream separators are perfect for small dairies and homesteaders who like to process their own dairy products. They speed up the gravity separation process and efficiently separate all kinds of milk – even naturally homogenized goat and sheep milk. But what happens if you get a manual cream separator without instructions…how do you use this gadget?

A manual cream separator requires a person to crank the handle at 60 rpm, which turns a worm gear mechanism. The mechanism spins a centrifuge drum at 6,000 rpm or more. The whole milk that passes through the cones in the drum separates into cream and skim milk, which is diverted to different spouts.

Before separating any cream, you must prepare and assemble the separator. Additionally, until you're used to operating a manual cream separator, someone might need to help you. Together, you can appreciate some Newtonian mechanics and avoid spilling precious milk.

Prepare And Assemble Your Manual Cream Separator

Wene Hand Cream Separator, Centrifugal Milk Separator, Milk Cream Separator for Cows Milk Goats Milk Farm Home

Before using your cream separator, assemble it and ensure the base or body is correctly mounted on a solid surface. Below are the steps for assembling your manual cream separator.

1. Mount The Manual Cream Separator On A Sturdy Countertop

You must mount the base of the cream separator on a strong countertop or plank. If you use a plank, you will need another person to hold it down while the separator works. Alternatively, you can use clamps to hold the plank in place.

2. Put In Industrial Oil If The Cream Separator Is Unused

On the cream separator's body, you'll find a plastic plug that covers the lubricant inlet. The worm gear mechanism spins the centrifuge drum and requires light industrial oil lubricant. Read the operating manual of your cream separator to know the best type of oil to use and how much you should put inside.

Alternatively, use about 8 oz 3-in-1 lubricating oil (some manual milk separators do not come with English instructions).

3-IN-ONE Multi-Purpose Oil, 8 OZ
  • Since 1894 this versatile multi-purpose drip oil has been a trusted tool used by professional tradesmen and do-it-yourselfers
  • Lubricates, cleans and protects against rust and corrosion. Offers precise application with no overspray or splatter, and its updated packaging has a fill level indicator strip that shows you when you're running low
  • Great for wheels, casters, sliding doors, chains, power tools and external parts of small motors, hinges, nuts and bolts, bicycles, wheels, fans and many other moving parts
  • Squeeze bottle design offers control over the amount of lubricant dispensed. Size is ideal for Automotive, Marine, Home, and Shop use
  • Marksman Twist Spout makes it easy to use and apply product exactly where you want it

3. Clean And Assemble The Centrifuge Drum

It is a good idea to thoroughly clean your cream separator's components before and after use. You can wash the parts in warm soapy water, rinse, and dry them before assembly to avoid contaminating the skim milk and cream.

  • Start with the broad, circular base of the drum that fits onto the body (It has a spindle facing upward.).
  • If necessary, adjust the cream thickness using the multi-tool that came with the cream separator.
  • Then, add in the cones (about a dozen) that slide onto the spindle.
  • The cones have holes that must line up to create a pathway for the whole milk. They should self-align if you spin them a bit.
  • Put the gasket on the base of the spindle.
  • Slide the drum lid into place.
  • Screw the nut into place using the multi-tool. Ensure the nut is tight and flush.

4. Line Up The Milk And Cream Spouts

A cream separator has two spouts: one for the skimmed milk and one for the cream. The milk tray and spout are the first to place over the drum. It should be placed facing where your milk bowl will be.

The cream catchment tray and spout fit above the milk layer. Again, the spout should be placed facing where the cream jar will be.

5. Attaching The Funnel, Floater, Milk Bowl, And Valve

With the milk and cream separators in place, you can now put on the funnel. The plastic funnel is shaped to act as a lid for the cream separator and funnels the whole milk into the spout. The funnel aligns with the spout.

Then, the disc-like filter is essential as it helps control the milk flow into the drum. That fits loosely in the space above the spout.

The last two components are the milk tank or "hopper." The long handle in the middle has an adjustable valve at the end, which controls the milk flow to the funnel.

6. Attach The Crank Handle

Once you have assembled the centrifuge drum and the separators, you can put on the handle. Be sure to tightly fasten it with the screw provided.

How To Operate The Cream Separator?

You can use your cream separator when everything is ready and set up. You will need the following:

  • The bowl of whole milk that you're going to separate.
  • A bowl or large jug for catching the skim milk.
  • A bowl or jar for catching the cream.

    1. Milk separates better at about 90°F, so you can heat it up gently before you start separating. When pouring milk into the reservoir, ensure the valve is closed.
    2. Before allowing milk down the funnel (the valve must still be closed), you should start cranking the handle of the cream separator. For optimal centrifugal force, you must do about 1 crank per second (60 revolutions per minute). However, the worm mechanism will amplify your efforts so that the drum spins between 6,000 and 8,000 revolutions per minute.
    3. Then, slowly open the valve to allow milk down the funnel and keep cranking!
    4. Crank until nothing more comes out of the separator.
    5. Finally, you can pour some of the skimmed milk to flush out any cream still in the drum.

Helpful Hints For Using Your Cream Separator

It is crucial to avoid flooding the centrifuge drum with milk before it spins. If your milk reservoir leaks, balance it on top of another bowl while cranking the handle. Then, once you've reached a good speed, someone can place the filled reservoir on top of the funnel. Alternatively, filling the reservoir when the drum is spinning would be best.

How Does A Manual Cream Separator Work?

A centrifugal separator speeds up the cream-separating process by intensifying the gravitational force on whole milk. Since cream and milk have different densities, they will separate with time. However, leaving milk to stand for too long increases the chances of it spoiling.

A manual cream separator works similarly to an electric-powered one, except the former is propelled by hand cranking. However, it needs a constant stream of whole milk to be fed into it to work efficiently.

The centrifuge drum, complete with its set of cones, separates the skimmed milk from the cream using centrifugal force. As the whole milk enters the narrow cavities between the cones during spinning, the fat and the milk are separated by gravitational pull because of their different densities.

During centrifugal spinning, the cream is initially delivered at the bottom of the drum but then moves up the spindle and to the cream outlet. Sheets of skim milk are pushed out the bottom of the cones and escape through the milk outlet.

What Else Can A Cream Separator Do?

Whether manual or electric, modern cream separators can do more than separate cream from skimmed milk. Depending on the model, it should be able to execute one or more of the following functions:

  • It should leave a maximum of 0.05% butterfat in milk. Very efficient separators will leave about 0.01% butterfat.
  • You can extract about 35 to 40% of the butterfat, depending on the milk source.
  • Industrial separators have self-cleaning bowls, but the smaller ones do not. Therefore, manually clean it every 30 to 90 minutes to remove the build-up of butterfat, side matter, and slime. For uninterrupted separation, use two bowls that you alternate (use one while the other is cleaned).
  • Separators can act as clarifiers, too. The centrifugal force helps to cast aside foreign matter.
  • Some separators can automatically standardize the fat content of milk. However, you'd need to adjust the regulating screw in the drum as it determines the fat content in the cream.

Take a look at the following manual cream separators that you can find in the market:

Dairy Milk Cream Separator Manual hand crank FULL METALL
  • The english amnual will be sent by e-mail only (not attached into the parcel)
  • Max. milk output, l/h 80; Milk bowl capacity, l 12 Number of disks in drum, pcs 10-12
  • Max. butter-fat content in skimmed milk, % 0.05
  • Cream/skimmed milk volume proportion adjustment range 1:4 to 1:10
  • Height, mm 520 Bowl diameter, mm 365 Weight, kg (netto) 6.3
Oumefar Cream Separator, Aluminum Alloy Manual Cream Separator Fresh Milk Dairy Centrifugal Separating Machine for Home Dairy Farm Use
  • It does not require too much on milk temperature, and the product is convenient for cleaning.
  • Efficient, simple to install and convenient to use, suitable for home and dairy farm use.
  • The separator is made of high-quality materials, it is stable to operate and durable in use.
  • This product is able to completely separate milk and ghee by rotating the separator at high speed.
  • The lower layer is skimmed milk and the upper layer is ghee, which is easy to use.

Additionally, we highly recommend checking out our comprehensive guide to the best milk separators on the market.


Manual cream separators are ideal for those who don't have enough space in their fridge for jars of milk undergoing gravitational separation. They can be used for all animal-based dairy types and act as a clarifier and fat-content standardizer. Using a manual cream separator will also give your arms a workout and a practical lesson on physics.

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