Gravity Feeding Through Ice Bath/Block

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tomakana

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I do small (2.5-3 gallon) batches, and I'm looking for a little more convenient way to cool my wort. Currently, I basically use an ice bath - the kettle goes from the burner into a tub filled with water and ice blocks (frozen in tupperware containers prior to brewing). It works fine, but it's messy, the kettle has to be braced so it doesn't float up in the tub, I'm always a little worried about banging the bulkhead valve, etc. I haven't had any problems, really, but it seems inevitable.

If I ever get to doing larger batches or more frequent batches, I'll start down the CFC or immersion chiller path, but for now I don't really want to have to worry about a water connection (for a variety of reasons it will be hard to change the spot where I do my brewing) or getting a pump set up going. I like the tinkering and DIY part of brewing, so I've been noodling through potential alternatives. Here's my thought - still working out the specifics, but this is the theory. I think this is basically similar to how some people pre-chill for their ICs, but used on the wort rather than on the liquid flowing through the IC.

I'm thinking of freezing a coil of copper into a 2G bucket with an outlet at the bottom of the bucket. At the end of the boil, I'd connect to the top end of the coil and slowly gravity feed the wort through the ice block and into the fermenter. As the ice melts around the tubing, it should flow down the bucket, maintaining pretty cold temps around the tubing, especially near the bottom. By the end, I should have a bucket of mostly melted water that I can use for cleaning and cooled wort in the fermenter - since I do smaller batches, there's less to cool, which should make this viable.

I think if I go with a bigger ice block (4G, say) and a longer length of tubing (50 ft vs. 25 ft) the chances of success are higher, obviously. And if it fails miserably, I've got the tubing for when I eventually bite the bullet and build an IC.

So....worth trying?
 

Kahler

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I say give it a shot. Cleaning the inside of the copper tubing would be the only reason I wouldn't do it, personally.

Before I was able to connect to a hose, I filled one side of my sink with ice and water, had a small water pump pushing the water into a bucket filled with more ice water where there was a pond pump pushing the cold water through my IC. The hot water coming out went down the drain on the other side of the sink. I could get 5 gal down to 68* in 20 +/- mins.

I got the small pump for $10 or so and the pond pump for $20 at harbor freight....looks like you coukd get both pumps for $35 now at harbor freight.

Also, if you have a shower head that has the detachment sprayer, the head can come off and screw onto a half inch barb...at least my shower attachment/ head/hose can.
 
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tomakana

tomakana

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I say give it a shot. Cleaning the inside of the copper tubing would be the only reason I wouldn't do it, personally.

Before I was able to connect to a hose, I filled one side of my sink with ice and water, had a small water pump pushing the water into a bucket filled with more ice water where there was a pond pump pushing the cold water through my IC. The hot water coming out went down the drain on the other side of the sink. I could get 5 gal down to 68* in 20 +/- mins.

I got the small pump for $10 or so and the pond pump for $20 at harbor freight....looks like you coukd get both pumps for $35 now at harbor freight.

Also, if you have a shower head that has the detachment sprayer, the head can come off and screw onto a half inch barb...at least my shower attachment/ head/hose can.
Yeah - I'm still thinking through the cleaning part. Particularly if I go with a longer run, that will be dicey. I kind of like the thought of one-step chilling and transferring, even though I know there are existing, well established ways to do that.

I'm also trying to avoid sending too much water down the drain or into the yard - this is a water-intensive hobby already. I may just build it as an IC and invest in a pump - I can still use the tub as a water reservoir with ice blocks in it.
 

Kahler

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Definitely! I was living in an apt in NYC at the time, so no yard. You can absolutely keep the water to clean up with rather than down the drain.
 

tracer bullet

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Where are you doing the cooling? Does tub = bathtub, laundry tub?

I'd highly suggest an IC and I think it may be easier to get water to it than you think. MAY, of course. You can adapt to a shower head if you're in a bathroom, jumper off a valve for a sink, adapt from a faucet in a laundry room, and so on.

I do applaud the water savings though, so if the ice idea turns your gears go for it. If you kinda want an IC, let us know what if any water is around your space.

I've had kettles float, tilt and get water in them. It made beer, but the situation definitely sucks.
 
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tomakana

tomakana

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All my brewing is current in the driveway - I can get a hose around to there, but it's not ideal. The tub is a big plastic tub - probably 20+ gallons capacity - that I fill with cool water and ice blocks to set the BK in when it's chilling. Definitely have the floating problem, but the fit in the tub is tight enough that it doesn't tilt to much at least.

I haven't had the chance to revisit this yet as I spent most of the winter building a keezer, but now that I've got some time freeing up, I'll probably get back into the DIY side of this hobby.
 
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