A mill (from the Latin molinum deriving from mola), is an instrument that produces a mechanical work derived from the exploitation of a force (produced by electricity, wind, water or animal / human thrust). Such mechanical work is used for example for the grinding of cereals, for the production of flour or other raw materials.

By extension the term also designates the structure that houses the instrumentation of the mill and therefore the building. Even in the colloquial form and in the sayings: “whoever goes to the mill gets flour”, refers to the building that houses the machines dedicated to grinding. The conductor of the mill is called a miller.

Grain milling plant

The term “mill” or “mill” (in Italian both words are valid) normally means not only the mill, but the entire grinding plant, which is composed of several machines that can be summarized in several categories:

machinery for cleaning the cereal
machinery intended for humidification and rest, also called air conditioning.
machinery used for grinding proper.
machinery used for sieving the ground to separate the flours from the bran, bran and germ.
storage of the flour in special cells called fariniere.
machinery used for packaging in bags, the size of the bags are normally 25 kg, 10 kg, 5 kg, 1 kg and 0.5 kg.

Industrial plants are very complex structures structured on several floors, in order to exploit the falling effect of the product from one machine to the next.


Before the use of electricity, the mill was organized in a functional way for the exploitation of energy from a particular natural force such as water or wind to make the mill work. The same machines have been used in some cases for the operation of a pump or other mechanism; for example in the Netherlands they were used to pump water by exploiting the force of the wind; in this case we speak more correctly of “wind blade”, although the external appearance of the machine is similar to a windmill.

A mill can be driven by several forces:

  • in ancient times the mills or millstones needed human or animal strength to function; someone reports “incorrectly” that the word “mill” derives from mule.
  • later in the pre-industrial era the exploitation of the energy of the water in its flow captured by a paddle wheel developed, the exploitation of water was of different types or a small jump of water was used in the hilly areas or flat areas, or a small waterfall in the mountain areas, in the case of large rivers the mill became a vessel (for example the mills on the river Po);
  • always in the pre-industrial period the force of the wind was also exploited;
  • from the second half of the twentieth century most of the plants are powered by electricity, although some ancient mills are in operation for tourist or cultural reasons.

Types of mills

By type of energy used

  1. Water mill
  2. Watermill or river mill
  3. Tide mill
  4. windmill
  5. Electric mill

For use

  • Pump Mill: Still used in Dutch polders to bring water back to the sea.
  • Mill for cysts
  • Wood mill: used to operate the saws of a sawmill.
  • Coffee mill
  • Limestone mill
  • Mill for oil
  • Paper Mill: Used to mix and knead the components of paper pulp.
  • Pepper mill
  • Mill for tanno
  • Malt Mill: Used to grind malt to be used for brewing
  • Mill for grinding solid fuels (coal)
  • Salt mill used in the Trapani salt pans to grind the salt. There are also pump mills, to move water from one basin to another in the salt pan.

By type of grinding

  • Grind mill (or millstone or stone mill): it consists of two stone wheels placed in a horizontal position, one of which is fixed and one that rotates, the product to be ground is introduced through the stone with a central entrance and peripheral exit.
  • Hammer mill
  • Ball mill
  • Disc mill
  • Knife mill
  • Cylinder mill

Mills resources: | Windmill wiki |


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A mill is a tool with a rotating mechanism and drive that can be used for grinding, pressing or stamping grains, paint pigments and other raw materials, sawing wood, pumping water, hoisting a load or generating electricity. A mill can be driven by the wind (windmill), water (watermill), the muscle power of people (handmill, treadmill) and animals (rosmolen) or by a motor.

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