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Old 01-06-2013, 08:05 PM   #1
NastyN8
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Default DIY wort chiller questions.

I was recently gifted a new brew kit and I asked around how to chill the wort quickly and I eventually came up with a system of running my wort through copper coils in ice water. The first time I used it it chilled the wort to room temperature as fast as I could pour it into the piping.

My question is this: has anyone here had success or failures with this type of system? It seems like almost everyone on here uses an immersion chiller, so am I at risk for contaminating my beer?

I run a b brite solution through it right after I pour the wort through and then boiling water after that. Before I use it again, I pour boiling water through it again then add the ice water and immediately procede to the wort chilling process. This system literally cost me less than $20 and I was so incredibly impressed with it's performance that I'm surprised nobody has much info on it. Any info would be great!

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:16 PM   #2
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Do you have a pic of the chiller? You pretty much already have a counter-wort chiller.
If I were you I'd just use that chiller and create an immersion chiller, or counter-wort chiller.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Wort_chiller

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:24 PM   #3
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I can't post a pic at this time, but I'll get one up soon. It's basically a funnel attached to the copper coil and the copper coil is set inside a regular cheap bucket you find at home depot. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the bucket, pulled the copper out the hole and bent it so it drains strait down. I put some caulk around the hole so the ice water won't drain out. I only used it once, but it was thoroughly sanitized before I used it, and it worked magnificently. I immediately poured water through it after it was used, then used boiling water to clean it again.

My main question is if anyone has ever used this kind of system? What is the best way to sanitize it? I would think boiling water through it would be plenty fine to sanitize it. I can scrap it if there's horror stories but I really like how it worked.

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:47 PM   #4
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The only thing I could say about the system is when you pour the cold wort into the funnel you have a bigger chance at contamination. Now if you added a valve with a pick up tube to your kettle you'd have a pretty sweet setup.
Now for sanitation, I use PBW and recirculate for 20 minutes. Boiling water will work ok if it goes through the pipe for at least 15 minutes. Or, I have heard of oxi-clean working pretty well. After you're done with the boiling water, sanitize using Star San. Copper can get contaminated between uses, but it sounds like you have very good sanitation practices. So, honestly, if the system is working for you, go for it. my 2 cents

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:58 PM   #5
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I actually pour the boiling hot wort into the funnel, so the top end of the system is always going to be at boiling temps. The part of the system that I could ever really be worried about is the copper piping inside of the ice water bath. I think I'll use some oxy clean or PBW to soak in from now on and then sanitize before use. I'd love to give anyone the specs on how I made it because it was super cheap, real easy and it literally cools your wort from boiling temps to room temperature in a matter of seconds. It took maybe 3 minutes to run a full two and a half gallons through the system and I had the fermenter closed and going within 15 minutes of sanitizing.

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Old 01-06-2013, 09:19 PM   #6
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What you have is the inside part of a counter flow chiller and yes many of us flow or pump our wort through coils or plate chillers to cool it. A counter flow chiller uses a lager diameter hose or pipe jacket in the place of your bucket of ice water. Tap or chilled water flows through the large diameter pipe while hot wort flows thoug the smaller one. Plate chillers work in a similar fashion.

Pouring boiling water through your coil before use is a fine way to sanitize it. The only concern I would have is that you may melt all your ice before you finish cooling an entire batch. How many gallons did you put though your chiller on your test run?

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I had no problems whatsoever getting my pee to ferment.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:26 PM   #7
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The first time I used it I had about 2-3 gallons of boiling wort that was poured through. I had to pour it relatively slowly, I couldn't go super fast but I got through the whole batch in about 3 minutes. I have an Ice maker in my freezer, so I just filled the whole bucket to the top of the coil with ice, then filled that with cold water. I still had plenty of ice in the chiller when I was done and the wort was room temp when it got to the fermenter. I pitched the yeast not two minutes after the wort was fully poured into the fermenter. I'm sure I could have gotten a full 5 gallons of boiling hot wort through the system with ice still in the bucket.

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Old 01-06-2013, 09:39 PM   #8
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I would be concerned with cleaning. Wort is full of debris, that can easily stick to the insides of the copper. This is why most people use a reverse system. Keeping the wort on the outside means you can seen if it is clean and greatly reduce chances for infection. Boiling water may not sanitize if you have chunks of trub in the piping.

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Old 01-06-2013, 09:42 PM   #9
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That's precisely what I'm concerned about. It's also what a couple of brewers have confessed to me, but they've never used a system like this. I am very interested in anyone's actual experience with a system like this because I have yet to hear anyone that has actually used it.

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Old 01-06-2013, 09:44 PM   #10
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I'd like to see your build. There's something that doesn't seem quite right. I usually use tap water though a 30 plate chiller to bring 6 or so gallons to below 100F in about 15 mins. I then switch to ice water to get down to around 60F in about another 20. That's about as efficinet as I've seen on a homebrew scale using everything the comunity has to bear on the problem. Multiple pumps, plate chiller, etc.

I'm not saying you're not getting the results you are (I hope you are) but there's another variable at play here. How much ice are you using? What's the ambient temp? How long is your coil? Anything else that could be helping you cooling?

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I had no problems whatsoever getting my pee to ferment.
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