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Old 10-05-2012, 09:32 PM   #1
Sep 2012
Southern, Illinois
Posts: 13

Just wondering if the copper line you can get at the big box stores to make a homemade wort chiller would be ok to use.

Think it would have some oil or varnish on it that would hurt your brew? Has anyone made one that works good?


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Old 10-05-2012, 09:38 PM   #2
Nov 2011
Anchorage, Alaska
Posts: 182
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts

I picked up a 50 footer at home depot because that was the cheapest I found and used my cornie keg to wrap it around. It looks great and works perfect. $50

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Old 10-05-2012, 09:45 PM   #3
Jul 2011
Glenview, IL
Posts: 6,368
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It's perfectly fine to use. If you place the chiller in the wort for the last 10 minutes of the boil it will be cleaned and sanitized for you and ready to go without any effect on your beer. If that scares you then you can soak it for a bit in hot vinegar solution first and rinse the first time, then do the previous each time you brew.
Nothing Left to do but smile and drink beer.....

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the "art" of beer since 2010

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Old 10-06-2012, 12:18 PM   #4
Apr 2012
Posts: 36
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Yeah it works. Copper is best because of its anti-microbial qualities. Clean it good, put the chiller together, then pickle it in a water and vinegar solution. Then, and only then should you use it. There is trace amounts of lead on the copper's surface. The pickling process will remove it.

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Old 10-06-2012, 12:34 PM   #5
bad67z's Avatar
Feb 2009
Columbus, Ohio
Posts: 1,875
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Originally Posted by NCangler17 View Post
Yeah it works. Copper is best because of its anti-microbial qualities. Clean it good, put the chiller together, then pickle it in a water and vinegar solution. Then, and only then should you use it. There is trace amounts of lead on the copper's surface. The pickling process will remove it.

I believe you may have copper and brass confused. Copper should not contain lead. While brass has a very small (trace) amounts.

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Old 10-06-2012, 12:56 PM   #6
estricklin's Avatar
Apr 2012
Oppelo, Arkansas
Posts: 2,062
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Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc if my memory is correct.

A nice hot soak sounds like a good idea at any rate, considering the impurities and such that could be on he surface of the copper, also if you solder anything I guess that would be another way to contaminate the outside the tubing. I should have thought of this when my wort chiller was new, oh well too late now.

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Old 10-06-2012, 06:26 PM   #7
Jan 2012
West Lafayette, IN
Posts: 1,216
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I got a "kit" from my LHBS, which is just a 25' copper tube and a few adapters and some hose---it's just what you'd buy if you were totally DIYing. It suggested boiling for a few minutes in a water/vinegar solution before use. This seems to agree with the sentiments here. FWIW, they suggested half a gallon of vinegar in an unspecified amount of water, but I'd assume 3-5 gallons.

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Old 10-06-2012, 06:56 PM   #8
Aug 2012
kearney, ne
Posts: 127
Liked 8 Times on 6 Posts

I'm fairly new to brewing and I'm in a 6 month long college level Science of Brewing class and have brewed several batches. Pretty intense course that has 3, 1 hour long lectures and a 5 hour lab every week. I have five instructors in the course one is a history professor and the others are bio chemists all of which have brewed for nearly 30yrs each at home. We uses some pretty simple setups to brew and one of the most simple effective setups is our wort chillers. We use a 20ft length of 1/4 copper tubing coiled and the coils are spaced rather than compacted in an effort for the cold water and ice to isolate and cool the hot lines. We use our mash tun cooler as our ice bath. Simply throw the coil in and fill it with ice and then water to about an inch from the top. (3gal cooler). Hook up the lines and start siphoning the wort. It's fairly important to grab the output of the chiller and bob it up and down in the bath about a half an inch. This keeps the fresh cold water circulating. Doesn't take but a few minutes to chill a 5 gallon batch. We actually had a problem with our wort only being 40 degrees and was too cold for our yeast and had to wait for it to warm up a little bit to an effective temp for our yeast.

We also had a discussion about immersion chillers in which you pass the water through the chiller and dunk the chiller in the wort. All of the instructors advised against it mainly because of sanitary reasons. Yes yeast needs oxygen often missing in home brews but they state through numerous experiments there was not a significant increase in O2 in the wort with this method. The risk is much higher of getting a bacterial infection etc in your wort by dunking the coils in this method not just from the atmospheric but also from the coils themselves. Copper scratches easily and bacteria can easily hold up in those areas and pass into your wort. It is more difficult to scratch the inside of the tubing and is easy to maintain the sanitation. Simply flush it with PBR followed by Star Sanz before and after brewing and hang upside down to clean.

This is the one I just built for myself with $20, 3/8 in 20ft copper tubing, $3 spring pipe bender and a few zip ties. We also use quick connects, cheap, effective and easy to replace frequently to maintain integrity. I have mine built so that if I need more tubing I can simply bend another length, attach it with a quick connect and strap it to the output like the rest of the coil to secure it. This is going to utilize a 5 gallon cooler for the bath. So IMHO running the worth through the chiller is the way to go.

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