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Old 12-12-2007, 02:26 PM   #1
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Default copper vs stainless steel

Hey folks: I know copper has much better thermal conductivity than stainless steel. In fact SS is (correct me if I am wrong) considered an insulator. This is why coffee mugs are made of SS, stay hot while not burning your hands. SO why is SS recommended for jockey boxes. In fact why is SS used in any of the cooling systems of brewing. I can see it's benefits for brew pots(durability and eveness), maintaining temperature in lines but not a good choice when temperature needs to be raised or lowered. Am I right here??
Thanks Charlie
PS why can't beer flow through copper lines in a Jockey box, or can it? I was told it was better not to.

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Old 12-12-2007, 02:49 PM   #2
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They make coffee cups out of stainless because they look really cool. They're double-wall for insulative reasons.

Copper is a better heat conductor but it doesn't hold up well to prolonged contact with acidic liquids like beer. That's why we compromise by using stainless for a jockey box. You just have to run a longer coil to make sure each consecutive pour is cold.

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Old 12-12-2007, 02:51 PM   #3
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SS is NOT an insulator. It does have much lower thermal conductivity than copper - about 26 times lower - but it still definitely conducts heat. The reason SS coffee mugs don't burn your hand is that they're made with two layers, separated by air or vacuum - it has nothing to do with how conductive the SS is.

SS is used for storing and dispensing beer because it doesn't corrode or oxidize. Copper is fine for short-term use like wort chilling after the boil, but if you left beer in a copper line for several days I bet it would start to oxidize and turn nasty.

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Old 12-12-2007, 03:23 PM   #4
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So a stainless steel wort chiller is no bad thing? It's my next piece of equipment, a chiller, I'm not happy with my cooling procedure even for partial boils, taking way too long to get to pitching temp!

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Old 12-12-2007, 03:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cd2448
So a stainless steel wort chiller is no bad thing? It's my next piece of equipment, a chiller, I'm not happy with my cooling procedure even for partial boils, taking way too long to get to pitching temp!
Hey, if you want something with great thermal conductivity, go with aluminum for your chiller. I be you can get an all aluminum car radiator and pump ice water through it to chill the wort in no time.
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Old 12-12-2007, 03:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cd2448
So a stainless steel wort chiller is no bad thing? It's my next piece of equipment, a chiller, I'm not happy with my cooling procedure even for partial boils, taking way too long to get to pitching temp!
Yes, it most likely WOULD be a bad thing, provided you are talking about an immersion or counterflow chiller... As I just mentioned, it has a thermal conductivity 26 times lower than copper, so if you made a wort chiller out of SS it would take WAY longer to cool your wort than if you made it out of copper, like most of them are - therefore it would most likely be hardly worth using unless it had gigantic surface area. And copper is cheaper. The only chillers that I know of that are made of SS are things like plate chillers, which are a very different design - they have a lot of surface area, use very thin SS plates (thinner than you could feasibly accomplish with an IC or CFC) and have design features that maximize turbulence.

You can get away with using copper for a wort chiller because, as I said, it will only be exposed to the wort for less than an hour.
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Old 12-12-2007, 03:44 PM   #7
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I believe the only metal that out performs copper is silver and I don't think that would be very cost effective....not to mention aluminum car radiators are are sealed with lead, at least that is how they did it on "How It's Made"...LOL

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Old 12-12-2007, 03:50 PM   #8
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Now I want a silver wort chiller. Talk about some $eriou$ brewing bling that would be

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Old 12-12-2007, 03:51 PM   #9
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been using a copper coil in my jockey box for years....no probs

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Old 12-12-2007, 03:51 PM   #10
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thanks for clarifying this. there are a few stainless steel chillers up on ebay - not much cheaper than the copper in fairness so might as well get the better performer.

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