Chiller: Immersion vs Counterflow

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kevstev

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Hey all,
Chilling the wort is now the most tedious part of my brewday. I am going ot make a wort chiller of some sort.

Those with Counterflow chillers- Can you chill in one pass, without recirculating? I don't want to get a recirculating pump, and just want to use my auto-siphon. My water does peak out at around 80 degrees though in the summer. I guess if I had to use two passes, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

I found an interesting article in the zymurgy archives (How long will it take to chill your wort, Bible; sep/oct 2004) which when plugging in calculations says it will take less than 4 minutes to cool my wort to pitching temps, in the cooler months when my tap is running around 50 degrees, and around 12 minutes in the peak of summer when it runs around 78 degrees. The spreadsheet will likely be useful to others, you can have a look at it here: http://www.jcbrewing.com/?p=128

If anyone has a sciency source on how effective immersion coolers are compared to counterflows, I would appreciate that. I would even take personal anecdotes.

My next series of questions are related to building a CFC:
I don't have a torch, but can I use a soldering iron to solder copper pipe? I haven't done that, only electronics soldering. I see there are no-solder builds out there- do those hold up over time?


I am trying to figure out if a CFC is worth the extra effort. I like the compactness and look of them. Though I just realized my auto siphon likely can't handle water at boiling temperatures. *sigh* Any other anecdotes to add for one or the other?
 

alien

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If you have a pump, make a CFC because it saves time. Otherwise make an IC, because gravity feeding a CFC is a nightmare.
 

lkj7295

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I've never used immersion, but I recently picked up a Blichmann therminator and it cooled my 6gal of wort down in one pass to 78-80 degrees. I know these guys are pricey, but dang it worked good for me.
 
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kevstev

kevstev

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If you have a pump, make a CFC because it saves time. Otherwise make an IC, because gravity feeding a CFC is a nightmare.
Oh yeah? Why is that? I don't want a pump of any sort. Aside from cost, I am really tight on storage space.
 
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kevstev

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Try a "no-chill" batch;)
Do you mean just letting it sit out to cool overnight? I could... but to be honest by the point of cooling, I just want to be done with everything. Get the kitchen cleaned up and the beer in the fermenter.
 

alien

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Oh yeah? Why is that? I don't want a pump of any sort. Aside from cost, I am really tight on storage space.
The aim is to drop the liquid from the BK through the CFC into the fermenter. This requires 18" of height between the bottom of the BK and the level of liquid in the fermenter to keep the siphon. You don't have a pump so your BK is at the bottom of a 3 tier system. So in practice this means lifting the BK full of 5+ gallons of boiling liquid several feet.

Which is a nightmare.
 
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kevstev

kevstev

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The aim is to drop the liquid from the BK through the CFC into the fermenter. This requires 18" of height between the bottom of the BK and the level of liquid in the fermenter to keep the siphon. You don't have a pump so your BK is at the bottom of a 3 tier system. So in practice this means lifting the BK full of 5+ gallons of boiling liquid several feet.

Which is a nightmare.
Oh you guys and your fancy setups. I brew indoors on my stove, my fermenter would be on the floor. As it is, I already lift 5 gallons of scalding hot near boiling water up several feet, then across the kitchen into the sink. Putting the fermenter near the floor is much easier- in other words, getting flow going is not a problem.

I thought you might have meant that the pressure of water via gravity might not be able to overcome the clogging power of trub.
 

alien

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I get it, you have already had to lift up the BK to put it on the stove. I don't do lifting generally but mostly I am jealous that you are allowed to brew in the kitchen :mug:

Clogging is more of an issue for plate chillers generally.
 

Monster Mash

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If you are brewing 5 gallon batches you can't go wrong with an Immersion Chiller. When you hit 10 gallon batches either one works but a counter flow cools while you transfer so it saves time. When you hit 15+ gallons you want a counter flow chiller, an immersion would take way too long.

With a counter flow you really need a pump just to clean it properly, you want to be able to recirculate the cleaning solution.
 

ACbrewer

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On sodering - yes, infact there is a whole plumbing dept at your local Lowes or HomeDepot or perhaps GASP! hardware store (do many of these non chains still exist?). Anyhow the guy should be able to point you in the right direction. You can soder copper pipe, but you want plumbing soder, not electronics soder. Plumbing soder is 100% tin, with NO lead. I don't know about electonic soder.

And you need a propane torch, a sodering gun won't do it. But it is how most plumbing feeds in most houses is done.

As to your pump problem, there are methods for making a no pump syphon using a t joint and a breath of air. Basically you put a bit of copper or silicon tubing into your BK, go up to a T joint, and down off the T join to your counter flow chiller and fermentor. Off the T you put another (and LONGER!!!) section of pipe that you can suck on (you can use silicon). Once you get the flow started, you stop sucking and cap/pinch the end - I think the desing I saw on HBT used a 1/4 turn ball valve to stop off the air draw tube. Anyhow that is how you can make a no pump siphon to get it started. As to sending it 2x or not.. I don't know.

Now with my chiller I think it is close to 20 mins but I only have 3 gallons with my emersion chiller. Honestly I just got it, and have only used it 2x. Which reminds me, I need to brew!
 

NanoMan

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I use an IC for batches up to 11.5 gal (kettle limit). I can chill from flameout to yeast pitch in 7 minutes, less for smaller batches. The key is to keep the wort moving around the coils. Right now I do that with a 1/2 inch drill with a stainless paddle. I capture the water from the chiller in 30 gallon rubber maid cans, using about 5 gallons to chill a large batch. This water is then used for subsequent brewing. I'm in the process of building a bracket so that I can drop the drill/paddle assy. into the kettle and walk away (actually, just to free up my hands).

On another note, my old IC failed last month, springing major leaks as a result of cold temps (yes, even in California). I had two batches at flameout which I was forced to allow to cool passively overnight. I fearedthe worst but was (pleasantly) surprised when there was no detectable influence of this practice on the flavor of the beer. I wouldn't recommend it, and never for brews using pilsener malt (DMS, don'yt you know) but it is otherwise doable.

Cheers!
 

Fredderick

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Hey all,
Chilling the wort is now the most tedious part of my brewday. I am going ot make a wort chiller of some sort.

Those with Counterflow chillers- Can you chill in one pass, without recirculating? I don't want to get a recirculating pump, and just want to use my auto-siphon. My water does peak out at around 80 degrees though in the summer. I guess if I had to use two passes, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

I found an interesting article in the zymurgy archives (How long will it take to chill your wort, Bible; sep/oct 2004) which when plugging in calculations says it will take less than 4 minutes to cool my wort to pitching temps, in the cooler months when my tap is running around 50 degrees, and around 12 minutes in the peak of summer when it runs around 78 degrees. The spreadsheet will likely be useful to others, you can have a look at it here: http://www.jcbrewing.com/?p=128

If anyone has a sciency source on how effective immersion coolers are compared to counterflows, I would appreciate that. I would even take personal anecdotes.

My next series of questions are related to building a CFC:
I don't have a torch, but can I use a soldering iron to solder copper pipe? I haven't done that, only electronics soldering. I see there are no-solder builds out there- do those hold up over time?

I am trying to figure out if a CFC is worth the extra effort. I like the compactness and look of them. Though I just realized my auto siphon likely can't handle water at boiling temperatures. *sigh* Any other anecdotes to add for one or the other?
I recently built my second immersion chiller... Check out this thread

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/great-wort-chiller-386382/

There are also good tips in that thread on where to buy the material
 
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kevstev

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On sodering - yes, infact there is a whole plumbing dept at your local Lowes or HomeDepot or perhaps GASP! hardware store (do many of these non chains still exist?). Anyhow the guy should be able to point you in the right direction. You can soder copper pipe, but you want plumbing soder, not electronics soder. Plumbing soder is 100% tin, with NO lead. I don't know about electonic soder.

And you need a propane torch, a sodering gun won't do it. But it is how most plumbing feeds in most houses is done.

As to your pump problem, there are methods for making a no pump syphon using a t joint and a breath of air. Basically you put a bit of copper or silicon tubing into your BK, go up to a T joint, and down off the T join to your counter flow chiller and fermentor. Off the T you put another (and LONGER!!!) section of pipe that you can suck on (you can use silicon). Once you get the flow started, you stop sucking and cap/pinch the end - I think the desing I saw on HBT used a 1/4 turn ball valve to stop off the air draw tube. Anyhow that is how you can make a no pump siphon to get it started. As to sending it 2x or not.. I don't know.

Now with my chiller I think it is close to 20 mins but I only have 3 gallons with my emersion chiller. Honestly I just got it, and have only used it 2x. Which reminds me, I need to brew!
Got it- I know the solder is different, but I wasn't sure if a soldering gun would have enough heat to be used for plumbing solder. I would likely never use the propane torch again, and I don't know anyone with one.

I guess I am going to stick w/ an immersion chiller.
 

ACbrewer

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Got it- I know the solder is different, but I wasn't sure if a soldering gun would have enough heat to be used for plumbing solder. I would likely never use the propane torch again, and I don't know anyone with one.

I guess I am going to stick w/ an immersion chiller.
I used my torch once for plumbing (hot water tank replacement.. with father in law much cheaper to buy torch than plumber). But I get your point - it wouldn't make sense for you. The propane is the same tank threads that are used in like colman cook stoves, so if you do camping that would be another use for the tank.

The real problem is that I think it takes hotter temps for the solder to melt and worse, the copper carries away the heat so you need more of it to keep things hot.
 
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kevstev

kevstev

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I used my torch once for plumbing (hot water tank replacement.. with father in law much cheaper to buy torch than plumber). But I get your point - it wouldn't make sense for you. The propane is the same tank threads that are used in like colman cook stoves, so if you do camping that would be another use for the tank.

The real problem is that I think it takes hotter temps for the solder to melt and worse, the copper carries away the heat so you need more of it to keep things hot.
I live in a condo just outside manhattan so yeah, Its likely I won't ever need a propane torch again :). I am going to stick with an immersion chiller, and maybe I will be able to re-use the copper if I upgrade to a counterflow. I still have an unresolved issue where I have a pull-down faucet, and I am not exactly sure how I am going to be able to connect a hose to it. Hopefully Home Depot has a solution for that!
 

movet22

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Do you mean just letting it sit out to cool overnight? I could... but to be honest by the point of cooling, I just want to be done with everything. Get the kitchen cleaned up and the beer in the fermenter.
I have been kicking this idea around lately. No, do NOT leave it in an open pot to cool. There is a plastic square method that is outlines on the no chill threads, worth a look. If you keg, pick up an extra used corny, transfer the hot wort to it, hit it with a quick co2 to bleed out any oxygen and let it sit in your ferm chanber/outside overnight. Then in the AM, removing the gas out QD and hose clamping some 1/2'' hose to blowoff and BOOM no chill, right in the fermenter!
 

ACbrewer

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I live in a condo just outside manhattan so yeah, Its likely I won't ever need a propane torch again :). I am going to stick with an immersion chiller, and maybe I will be able to re-use the copper if I upgrade to a counterflow. I still have an unresolved issue where I have a pull-down faucet, and I am not exactly sure how I am going to be able to connect a hose to it. Hopefully Home Depot has a solution for that!
Condo so you own it? Here is what I did.. .can you do plumbing? a little?

Here is what I used because my wort chiller had a garden hose adaptor, if you are making your own, you can probably find a differnt barbed mate.

Parts, Teflon tape, a 30 inch or better 60 inch braided hose (I used 30 wish I'd used 60), a 'boiler' tap from lowes/depot alternativly a threaded washing machine hook up. Boiler tap is 1/4 turn, instead of multi turn. And a tee plumbin adaptor.

1. Shut off cold water feed.
2. unthreaded it from my kitchen sink, and then inserted the T and reconnected the cold to the sink.
3. took the braided hose and connected to the other part of the T and then ran that to my boiler tap. I think boiler was 1/2 in to hose out. Anyhow it fit what I had.

I used teflon tape on all the male threads - it helps get a tighter seal. Now with 30 inches I go from the back of my cabinet to the front. and screw in my wort chiller when I put it in the wort.

Why use a 60 inch? Because then I coudl have the connection in the sink. I was affraid of a leak (it doesn't) but also when I unscrew it, all the water in the hose has to go somewhere, so I have to put a spare pot on the floor to get it. Anyhow that is the basics. Your local home depot or lowes or... wait Manhatten? hmmm... well I don't ever recall seeing a Hardware store in that part of NYC, but they should have something. I think the 60 inch hose might be a dishwasher hose.

My under the kitchen sink all screws together (did that remode myself), if yours doesn't, they have compression fittings that require no soldering, so you can just adapt, although you might need a hack saw for a cut. and basically do the same. Infact I think my T joint came as a compression fitting, but could be used as I did - just threads.
 

LandoLincoln

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Oh yeah? Why is that? I don't want a pump of any sort. Aside from cost, I am really tight on storage space.
If you don't want to use a pump, then I would not recommend using a plate CFC. A tube-within-a-tube CFC will work okay without a pump.
 
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kevstev

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Condo so you own it? Here is what I did.. .can you do plumbing? a little?

Here is what I used because my wort chiller had a garden hose adaptor, if you are making your own, you can probably find a differnt barbed mate.

Parts, Teflon tape, a 30 inch or better 60 inch braided hose (I used 30 wish I'd used 60), a 'boiler' tap from lowes/depot alternativly a threaded washing machine hook up. Boiler tap is 1/4 turn, instead of multi turn. And a tee plumbin adaptor.

1. Shut off cold water feed.
2. unthreaded it from my kitchen sink, and then inserted the T and reconnected the cold to the sink.
3. took the braided hose and connected to the other part of the T and then ran that to my boiler tap. I think boiler was 1/2 in to hose out. Anyhow it fit what I had.

I used teflon tape on all the male threads - it helps get a tighter seal. Now with 30 inches I go from the back of my cabinet to the front. and screw in my wort chiller when I put it in the wort.

Why use a 60 inch? Because then I coudl have the connection in the sink. I was affraid of a leak (it doesn't) but also when I unscrew it, all the water in the hose has to go somewhere, so I have to put a spare pot on the floor to get it. Anyhow that is the basics. Your local home depot or lowes or... wait Manhatten? hmmm... well I don't ever recall seeing a Hardware store in that part of NYC, but they should have something. I think the 60 inch hose might be a dishwasher hose.

My under the kitchen sink all screws together (did that remode myself), if yours doesn't, they have compression fittings that require no soldering, so you can just adapt, although you might need a hack saw for a cut. and basically do the same. Infact I think my T joint came as a compression fitting, but could be used as I did - just threads.
There is actually a decent home depot in Manhattan on 6th ave and 14th ish. It looks pretty crappy (like a home store) when you walk in, but downstairs its enormous and a pretty typical home depot. I live in Jersey City though, and have a home depot near me.
 

rcrabb22

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My issues with CFC's or plate chillers is sanitation. They need to be sanitized before use one way or another before use. I own and have used both a CFC and a IC. My CFC has been sitting unused in the basement for 2 years.

I brew 10 gallon batches and as a previous poster has said, it take around 10 minutes to get the wort from boil to 66F. I place my stainless steel IC in the boil kettle 10 min before flame out to sanitized the exterior. I use a pump and recirculate the wort to keep it moving across the chilling coils. A good rinse of the IC is all that is needed to clean it up.
 

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My issues with CFC's or plate chillers is sanitation. They need to be sanitized before use one way or another before use. I own and have used both a CFC and a IC. My CFC has been sitting unused in the basement for 2 years.

I brew 10 gallon batches and as a previous poster has said, it take around 10 minutes to get the wort from boil to 66F. I place my stainless steel IC in the boil kettle 10 min before flame out to sanitized the exterior. I use a pump and recirculate the wort to keep it moving across the chilling coils. A good rinse of the IC is all that is needed to clean it up.
I sanitize my CFC by running boiling wort through it for a few minutes. Ain't nothin' gonna survive boiling hot wort. I've not had an infection in the 2 years of brewing with it. After use, I backflush it with water. Done. Plate chillers definitely take some more TLC.

I'm more nervous about having my cooling wort exposed to the air for 40 minutes than I am about running the wort through my CFC. To each their own.
 

Dolomieu

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I live in a condo just outside manhattan so yeah, Its likely I won't ever need a propane torch again :). I am going to stick with an immersion chiller, and maybe I will be able to re-use the copper if I upgrade to a counterflow. I still have an unresolved issue where I have a pull-down faucet, and I am not exactly sure how I am going to be able to connect a hose to it. Hopefully Home Depot has a solution for that!
If you upgrade you can use it as a prechiller for another ic, plate , or cfc. The first chiller i made now plays that part in my brew day and works great. So i run the tap through chiller one in an ice bath to chiller to in my wort. My second ic is massive, actually think about a cfc.
 

rcrabb22

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I sanitize my CFC by running boiling wort through it for a few minutes. Ain't nothin' gonna survive boiling hot wort. I've not had an infection in the 2 years of brewing with it. After use, I backflush it with water. Done. Plate chillers definitely take some more TLC.

I'm more nervous about having my cooling wort exposed to the air for 40 minutes than I am about running the wort through my CFC. To each their own.
The wort is exposed for maybe 3 minutes or so it takes to chill to 140F. DMS precursors are no longer a factor below 140F. I would not have a lid on my kettle if the wort was >= 140F.

There is enough thermal updraft from the hot wort that I don't worry about airborne contamination. A notched lid (to allow for chiller tubes) goes on for the rest of the chill. I bought an aluminum kettle lid from a restaurant supply store expressly for this purpose. Using a hack saw it cut like butter.

As you said, there is no one right way, just do what works for you
 

Butchv12

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I have used a CFC for the past 3 years or so --- I too "clean it" but running hot wort through it before I turn on the cooling water ---- never had one problem.
 
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Can't you clean/sanitize a cfc by running some water and sanitizer through it? Seems pretty simple to me, but maybe I am missing something. Can't be harder to clean than my siphon tubes, which are starting to accumulate gunk that I can't seem to flush out via rinsing.

Seems like a small task compared to my current cooling regimen that involves lots of filling up the sink, swirling the wort and outer water around, draining the sink, filling it back up, constantly checking temps, adding ice when I get to ~100... etc.
 
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I have a gravity fed CFC. It's very efficient but I always end up with more cold break in my fermenters than I like. I know it's not a bad thing to have cold break in there, but I would prefer to keep my fermenters as gunk free as possible to make yeast harvesting as easy as possible.

So my vote would be for an immersion chiller and manual whirlpooling. Use your IC as a stirring device to whirlpool while you chill to get quicker chilling and to concentrate your break/trub in the center of your kettle away from your dip tube.
 
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I have a gravity fed CFC. It's very efficient but I always end up with more cold break in my fermenters than I like. I know it's not a bad thing to have cold break in there, but I would prefer to keep my fermenters as gunk free as possible to make yeast harvesting as easy as possible.

So my vote would be for an immersion chiller and manual whirlpooling. Use your IC as a stirring device to whirlpool while you chill to get quicker chilling and to concentrate your break/trub in the center of your kettle away from your dip tube.
dip tube? Do you do siphon from the kettle to the fermenter? I do a heavy pour into the fermenter to increase oxygen flow- I just try to leave the trub at the bottom of the kettle behind.
 

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I say both, use a immersion to immerse into a bucket of ICE water base hose water through it on the way to the counterflow to pre-chill your cooling water. This is a must in hot climates
 
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dip tube? Do you do siphon from the kettle to the fermenter? I do a heavy pour into the fermenter to increase oxygen flow- I just try to leave the trub at the bottom of the kettle behind.
If you're using a siphon, after you whirlpool, siphon from the side so you can keep the majority of the trub/break in the kettle near the center.
 

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I sanitize my CFC by running boiling wort through it for a few minutes. Ain't nothin' gonna survive boiling hot wort. I've not had an infection in the 2 years of brewing with it. After use, I backflush it with water. Done. Plate chillers definitely take some more TLC.

I'm more nervous about having my cooling wort exposed to the air for 40 minutes than I am about running the wort through my CFC. To each their own.
Wow. I can't believe I never thought of this. Thanks! Not that sanitizing is that big a deal, but one less step is nice.

TO THE ORIGINAL POST:
Building my CFC was the best upgrade to my system so far. I made a rough video of how this was made and will post it when I've edited it. Basically, I recommend coiling copper wire around the copper tubing inside the hose to maximize cooling ability of water. this make getting the tubing over the copper difficult, but the efficiency is great. I never have to do double passes or anything even with a siphon and no valve to control wort flow.

I would put the BK on the sink in my bathroom, put the CFC on the toilet and the fermenter in the shower. (can't believe I never had a contaminated brew) It wasn't ideal, but it worked, barely. I have recently fitted my BK with a valve so I anticipate an easier time of it going forward. With a CFC you will never feel the need/itch to upgrade, and depending on your love of the hobby, that is something you can take comfort in.
 

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No experience with a cfc and have only used my IC once(just made it). WOW, is all I can say. I was doing the old bathtub and ice cooling and it sucked. My last brew went from boiling to 58 in 10 minutes, not a minute more. That was with 55 degree input water. 1/2(od) x 50'.

The thing I've heard about CFC is without a pump, the time the wort sits at just under boiling is long enough to lose some of the flame out hop additions aroma. I didn't want a pump right now. So my chiller goes in, does work, and gets sprayed off. Simple.
 
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No experience with a cfc and have only used my IC once(just made it). WOW, is all I can say. I was doing the old bathtub and ice cooling and it sucked. My last brew went from boiling to 58 in 10 minutes, not a minute more. That was with 55 degree input water. 1/2(od) x 50'.

The thing I've heard about CFC is without a pump, the time the wort sits at just under boiling is long enough to lose some of the flame out hop additions aroma. I didn't want a pump right now. So my chiller goes in, does work, and gets sprayed off. Simple.
Couldn't you remedy that by adding hops after cooling? In other words, dry hopping?
 
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