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Cleaning copper

Hey everyone! I got just 25 feet of copper from my father in for free! He is a mechanical engineer and had some in his shop. I was talking to him about wort chillers and he gave me some he had laying around. Since it has been in a warehouse for quit some time, how should I clean it before I start building my wort chiller?

From my experience DONT use oxyclean for an extended amount of time. Yikes!.. that was a bad day to be copper and aluminum at my house😁

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You can clean copper by boiling in vinegar for 5 minutes and rinse well. Then allow it to rebuild a protective copper oxide layer again with normal use. Then all I would do is give it a good rinse to remove the hop / trub debris, etc… Before using, I’d soak it in StarSan for 15 minutes, or you could just add it to the boiling wort to sanitize it before using. I think the less you do with copper once you’ve done the initial clean, the better.


I just had a similar experience. After brewing, I filled up my brew kettle with oxiclean and hot water to soak over night. Put my copper wort chiller in the too. Next morning - complete surprise. My pot had this dingy-grey film on it even after dumping out the water. It will not come off. Wort chiller seemed to be fine though. What happened in your experience?

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I left my chiller in the aluminum pot full of oxyclean. Where the chiller came in contact with the pot turned the chiller dark grey and funky which was very hard to get off. The rest of the chiller turned dark grey but just not as bad. Then the pot turned the same color. The lid was dipped in the water only half way, so not I have a lid that’s 1/2 shiny and 1/2 dark grey. Maybe more cosmetic, but my stuff was always really nice and now looks like old junk. LOL

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What dilution of vinegar would you recommend? After researching a little, I have seen people recommend just letting it soak in star san for a while and cleaning it off that way. Any experience with that? Once last question, could I just use a Lowes 5 gallon on brew day to let stuff soak in or do I need to get a food grade container like the fermentation buckets?

I used straight white vinegar. I would think letting it soak in StarSan would also work since it is an acid. I made a copper manifold for my cooler MLT, and just the acidity of the mash seems to shine it up some. I think a Lowes 5 gallon plastic bucket would be fine since none of the beer will contact it. It might even be the same type of plastic. Not sure though.

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Just checked and they have 5 gallon food grade buckets for 4 dollars at lowes. Going to grab one and let my coil soak in some star san. Is there a time limit I shouldn’t exceed?

Same here. It’s cosmetic but it bothers me… I might boil some water/vinegar in it and then take a SOS pad to it. Bar Keepers Friend wouldn’t take it off.

Yeah I took a copper brillo pad to it and it took it off. As for the pot, I boiled some water in it, but not much I can do for the lid. Oh well

So I let the copper soak for about 40 minutes in star San and it looks awesome! There are a few spots that looks like something is caked on. It’s. it tarnish just some stuff from sitting in a shop for several year. Can I use a Brillo pad or anything to get those tough spots off?

You could probably scrub those off. Just keep in mind copper is soft, so don’t go crazy as you could leave scratches making the chiller harder to sanitize.

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