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Homemade Immersion Chiller

Has anyone tried to manually bend 3/8" copper into a coil for an immersion chiller? I’m looking to jump up to 10 gallon batches and want to use my existing, smaller chiller as a pre-chiller in an ice bath. I’d like 3/8" for my kettle and was thinking it might be cheaper to rig up something by hand instead paying out the rear end for store bought chiller.

If so, let me know how you did it.

Thanks a bunch.

Here are some pics of my homemade immersion wort chiller. 50’ of 3/8" copper tubing configured into a dual coil design. Cools 5 gallons wort to 65 degrees in 15 minutes.
I used a 1 gallon pickle jar for the outer coil, and a 28oz bean can for the inner coil. It is around 10" in diameter and 16" in hieght.
I used solid core copper wire stripped of its insulation to hold together the upright runs of tubing.

IIRC the copper was around $35 with free shipping online about 2 years ago.
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I though this video was pretty good… it should get ya started. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8EolKTDZUQ

Geez…glad I asked. That’s pretty damn easy. Exactly what I was looking for.

Thanks guys.

I also made my own immersion chiller. Surprisingly, hardware stores, including Home Depot, etc., actually sell already bent coils of copper tubing. I was able to get 25’ of 3/8" copper tubing for ~$22. At that point it was really easy to bend it into shape (I used a 2 gallon stock pot to bend it around to keep the shape). You can also get the fittings/tubing/hose clamps while you’re at the hardware store too. In the end, I spent ~$35 to make my wort chiller that normally sells for double that. Just be sure to go slowly and take extra special care not to cause any kinks; once a kink is there you can’t take it out (at least not with anything that you would normally find around the house). Enjoy!

Primary: Empty (not for long)
Secondary: Surly Bender kit that’s going to get coffee-ified
On Deck: Strong Belgian Dubbel with homemade candi sugar
Drinking: Rich Baltic Porter and 100 IBU Hop Monster IPA

i didn’t watch the video but i wrap my tubing around a keg. just the right size to drop in the kettle.

[quote=“gregscsu”]Here are some pics of my homemade immersion wort chiller. 50’ of 3/8" copper tubing configured into a dual coil design. Cools 5 gallons wort to 65 degrees in 15 minutes.
I used a 1 gallon pickle jar for the outer coil, and a 28oz bean can for the inner coil. It is around 10" in diameter and 16" in hieght.
I used solid core copper wire stripped of its insulation to hold together the upright runs of tubing.

[/quote]

Nice set up! You may want to put a flange out the copper hot water out line. I’ve read a few times in different beer forums that the plastic hose popped off due to heat in the copper line. This happened to the hbrewers when they walked away for some reason or another and the cooling water ended up in the wort causing even more headaches. :cheers:

I think you will find that a pre-chiller is a wast of time/ice.

Trying to cool 60* water with ice is hard to do. You will be better off using tap water to cool the wort to ~100*. Then if you like, use a pump (fountain/sump pump) to circulate ice water through the wort chiller to get the temp down to 65*

I have a chiller that I made by wrapping around a corney keg. And I attach my hose to it. In the summer I coil the hose in a tub of ice water which seems to work great. In the winter my water is cold enough as is. I have never had a problem chilling my wort down to 61F. For 5.5 gallons it takes me about 30-45 mins with intermediate stirring

I use a pre-chiller in the summer and it works great. Once the wort is down to 70-75 deg I drop it in a kettle of ice. Moving the pre-chiller around in the ice while stirring the wort drops it down to 63 deg pretty fast. I do slow the flow of water so it has more time to get chilled.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]I think you will find that a pre-chiller is a wast of time/ice.

Trying to cool 60* water with ice is hard to do. You will be better off using tap water to cool the wort to ~100*. Then if you like, use a pump (fountain/sump pump) to circulate ice water through the wort chiller to get the temp down to 65*[/quote]

Couple of ideas. You may want to put (not soldered, just slide it on ) a fitting on each end of your copper tubing before you wrap it around whatever you use to shape it. This will prevent the end of your tubing from being ‘ovaled’. Believe me if you want to solder anything on the end of your coil you need it to be round.

You can get brass pipe thread-to-garden hose thread adapters. Using those you will not have any issues with your hoses slipping off.

To be honest I never thought about building my own chiller. Thanks for sharing the Youtube video. This seems to be very interesting but I am still of the opinion that I probably won’t be able to build such a chiller on my own although it would be a great project. Nevertheless I will still use a chiller rental
http://www.aggreko.com/northamerica/
because this is the most convenient way to get a chiller when you need one. Maybe I will buy one if I find a cheap offer but until then I will rent the chiller.

[quote=“gboone”]Nevertheless I will still use a chiller rental
http://www.aggreko.com/northamerica/
because this is the most convenient way to get a chiller when you need one. Maybe I will buy one if I find a cheap offer but until then I will rent the chiller.[/quote]
Is this a spam post? Who rents an industrial process chiller to cool 5 gallons of wort? The rental fee would be more than buying a homebrew wort chiller.

BTW, here’s what I ended up building. 60’ of 1/2" I.D. copper tubing, a few elbows and a couple of hours labor. Total cost was about $120.00.

This chiller was built for cooling 10 gallon batches (when I get around to brewing them) but I recently used it for a couple of 5 gallon batches. Result: Chilled 5 gallons of wort from near boiling temps. down to 68F in 4 min. 20 seconds using tap water temps. and slow stirring.

Planning on building a 1/2" I.D. copper “pre-chiller” that fits into a rect. cooler full of ice to cool 10 gallon batches to 50F for lagers as well. I’ll post pics. when that’s done.

I hear plate chillers are nice, but THIS is the way to go IMO. Easy to sanitize, extremely efficient, no pump needed, easy to build and very inexpensive.

I got 25 ft of 3/8" copper tubing from Lowes for ~$13, a tube bender for $3, 15 ft of rubber tubing for a couple bucks and two hose clamps for a dollar. The tube bender is important to not kink the tube. I dont like to run a garden hose in the house and my faucet wont fit the tubing so I put a 6 gallon bucket (with a spigot) full of ice water on top of my refrigerator. I connect the tube to the spigot and let gravity do the rest. This was completely easy and very cheap.

A common practice to reduce/prevent your soft copper from kinking while bending is to fill it with sand. Just a tip here.

I built a chiller with 50’ of 1/2" copper and put compression fittings on both ends. It’s a dual coil, and very ugly. This may make some of you cringe, but I put the chiller in a cooler of ice, salt, and water, then pump the hot wort through the chiller. I add ice and salt as needed to keep a nice slush in the cooler. I use about 60# of ice to chill 10 gallons in about 10 - 15 minutes to around 70 degrees. Then run water through to rinse, then Star San. I fill the chiller with Star San, screw plugs into the compression fittings on each end, and store it that way until the next brew session. Been doing it that way for a year and had no problems. Works for me.

60 lbs of ice makes me cringe a little. but you may have access to cheap ice or an ability to make lots of it.

storing an acid sanitizer in contact with metal for an extended period of time seems un necassary. star san is 99% effective in around 30 seconds contact time. cleaning after use and sanitizing before use should be sufficient.

Some of the chillers folks have made and have photos on here look really great. Mine looks like, well let’s just say looks wise it is a 2 on a scale of 1-10. But it works really great. I took two cheap 1/2 inch rolls from the hardware store and soldered them together (silver solder) and then used hose clamps to put garden hose connections on the ends. I just tightened the already twisted rolls together a little tighter by hand, so it isn’t very even, but it totally submerges the coils part into the wort. At that point, it has the exact same cooling capacity as the same length of nice looking pipe.

I built one since I got a $50 gift card to the hardware store.

While mine doesn’t look as classy as the store bought kind, it was “free” and cools my wort down in a hurry as long as you get the water flow just right.

Remember, running the faucet faster is not always better. You need to give the water time to absorb the heat as it passes through the coils. I find as the temp comes down I end up closing the flow more and more on the spigot.

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