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Old 08-21-2007, 09:32 PM   #1
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Default help me with my wort chiller!

i'm going to try my hand at making a wort chiller. the design is basically a copper spiral inside a bucket that will hold ice water. the part i need some help with is getting the copper tubing through the bottom wall of the bucket and into the fermenter. my first thought is to simply drill the hole, pass the copper through, and use epoxy or silicone to seal it up. the wort will never touch the epoxy so no big deal there. i'd like to be able to consider a way to do this with fittings so that i'd be able to remove the coil for better cleaning. on the other hand, only the inside of the coil will ever need cleaning and the only way to do that is running boiling water through. so, i guess my question is should i find a way to make the coil detachable, or am i making things too complicated? someone please straighten out my head!

another, simpler question: what kind of flexible plastic tube can i use for moving around boiling liquids? ya know, just in case i was ever inclined to do something like that!

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Old 08-21-2007, 09:44 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorWanderer
i'm going to try my hand at making a wort chiller. the design is basically a copper spiral inside a bucket that will hold ice water. the part i need some help with is getting the copper tubing through the bottom wall of the bucket and into the fermenter. my first thought is to simply drill the hole, pass the copper through, and use epoxy or silicone to seal it up. the wort will never touch the epoxy so no big deal there. i'd like to be able to consider a way to do this with fittings so that i'd be able to remove the coil for better cleaning. on the other hand, only the inside of the coil will ever need cleaning and the only way to do that is running boiling water through. so, i guess my question is should i find a way to make the coil detachable, or am i making things too complicated? someone please straighten out my head!

another, simpler question: what kind of flexible plastic tube can i use for moving around boiling liquids? ya know, just in case i was ever inclined to do something like that!
I think your local LHBS should carry the proper sized drilled rubber stopper. Easier and less mess.
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Old 08-21-2007, 09:45 PM   #3
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You will need hi-temp silicone hose.

I also recommend reading what John Palmer has to say about building wort chillers.

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Old 08-22-2007, 02:37 PM   #4
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That is what I used before upgrading to a plate chiller. I bought some quick disconnects from McMaster (5923K42, 5923K72, ~$2 ea.) and drilled a hole at the base of the bucket and then caulked one fitting in place. At the bottom end of my coil I put a short length of tubing with the other disconnect on the end. This way I could remove the coil from the bucket. It never leaked.

The biggest pain was getting the hot wort flowing. I didn't have a metal racking cane and the heat is enough to destroy an autosiphon. I upgraded to a spigot on the bucket and that was better, but you need a good elavation change between the pot, the coil and your fermenter to help get the flow started.

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Old 08-24-2007, 08:07 AM   #5
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Default Hybrid Chiller Success!

it's getting late, I'll post in more detail with pictures later today.

The long short of my building and tests today is that I built 50ft of 3/8" OD copper into a 6.5g bucket. I used an 8" "Quik-Tube" concrete form to bend the copper. The end of the copper went through an epoxied 3/8" compression > 1/2" MIP in the bottom wall of the bucket and the start was attached directly to the ball valve on the kettle via the same connection.

I filled the kettle with about 7g of water and boiled. I filled the chiller with a 20lb bag of ice, 4g water, and about 1/4c of salt. In order to test the maximum ability of the chiller I allowed the water to continue boiling when I opened the valve. after 23 min I had filled a 5g kettle to the brim at a temperature of 68F!! the first 1/2g sample that came out was 48F, and a 1 quart sample taken after filling the 5g kettle was 97F.

Design changes that I'd consider, especially if I wanted to spend a little more money:

1. Use a 10g cooler instead of a bucket. I don't think it will make much difference in keeping the ice water bath cool because the vast majority of the the warming is coming from inside, but the space around the outside of the coil will be larger (more ice volume) and you'd be able to use the zymico kewler fittings for a much better seal. The fitting I used and the way I had to epoxy it is a little flimsy. I have a feeling it will be leaking soon (water, not wort) so I'll probably just bite the bullet and get a weldless bulkhead to seal things up.

2. this is a no brainer and I should have thought of this: Bottling spigot. Not only so you can empty the water easily when you're done, but if you want to chill more than 5g of wort, then it might be handy to be able to empty some water volume so you can add more ice. Ya never know. . .

By the time you go with a 10g cooler, fancy-schmancy fittings, 50ft of copper, and a few hours of your life, you might as well buy a plate chiller, have someone kick you in the balls, and call it even!

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Old 08-24-2007, 12:09 PM   #6
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Was there any ice left in the water when you finished draining the 5 gallons? Did you stir the icewater as you were draining the wort? The water near the coils will heat quickly. You've got to stir to break that up.

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Old 08-24-2007, 06:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Was there any ice left in the water when you finished draining the 5 gallons? Did you stir the icewater as you were draining the wort? The water near the coils will heat quickly. You've got to stir to break that up.
The ice was gone pretty quickly, after about 12 minutes, so half way through. I was stirring as much as I could between monitoring the temp of the "wort" and the ice bath. The interesting thing about the Ice Bath temp is that the temperature gradient didn't start to appear until after the ice was melted. The remaining ice continued to float to the top, keeping the top layer very cold. And of course the colder water was sinking to the bottom anyway. After the ice melted it was a different story. The top couple inches of bath water became hot very quickly, but the bottom stayed very cool. I was stirring almost constantly after the ice disappeared. The temps and times i recorded are as follows:

Ice Bath Start Temp (IB*0min)= 37*F
"Wort" Start Temp, first 1/2gallon sample (W*0min)= 48*F

IB*6min= 36*F
W*7min= 49*F

IB*15min= 76*F
W*15min= 58*F

IB*20min= 84*F
W*20min= 63*F

IB*23min= 96*F
W*23min= 68*F

W*25min(1 quart sample)= 97*F

If one were to incorporate the spigot to allow ice additions, cooling wort to 50*F is totally realistic. How's that for cold break!?
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Old 08-24-2007, 06:59 PM   #8
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Another thought I had was to put the entire bucket filled with water into the freezer to create a solid block of ice. The problem I think is that you'd get some mighty hot water between the coil and ice that you couldn't stir. You can at least create a very large cylinder of ice by freezing in a pitcher of some kind. I wish I lived in an area that always had cold tap because ice adds a considerable expense to the brew day.

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Old 08-24-2007, 07:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
Another thought I had was to put the entire bucket filled with water into the freezer to create a solid block of ice. The problem I think is that you'd get some mighty hot water between the coil and ice that you couldn't stir. You can at least create a very large cylinder of ice by freezing in a pitcher of some kind. I wish I lived in an area that always had cold tap because ice adds a considerable expense to the brew day.
Our heads are in the same place on this, Bobby. Freezing crossed my mind, and the solution I came up with is antifreeze or salt in the bath. Antifreeze in my wort scares me a little, even though the line from kettle spigot to fermenter is water tight. If that didn't bother you you could use the same bath mix over and over and save tons of water (literally). In the future I think I'll go with an unsalted ice bath and offset the cost of the ice by saving the water I dump from the bath for future brew sessions. There is just enough chlorine in my tap water that I've always boiled the day before, let it cool, and then racked what I didn't need for the boil into my carboy and put that into the fridge. With this method, the majority of my water will be from ice which, presumably, is filtered and chlorine free. I'll no longer have to boil (energy savings) and conserving water is always the right answer living in Colorado. This is pretty much how Boulder Beer does things. The cooling water from their chiller goes straight into the next mash, and now they're not to far from their dough-in temp. They're saving both water and energy. I'll lose the energy savings because I'm not starting a new batch immediately but I'll regain it by not having to boil before starting a batch. YEA EARTH!
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Old 08-24-2007, 07:31 PM   #10
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..........

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