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Pre chiller idea

I am currently using an immersion chiller and a sump pump for my wort chilling. I fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and put the pump in too. I let the water run through the chiller that is inside the boiling wort and exit into another bucket. Once the return water is not so hot, I then put big ice chunks into the water bucket and refill with water, then place the return hose into the bucket with the ice and pump. It takes time and I have to keep adding ice

But, this still takes a decent amount of time to get the wort chiller. My tap water is in the mid 60s. My last brew took near 45 minutes to cool. I know plate and counter flow chillers are faster but I don’t have the ability to use those at the moment.

I have recently come into possession of a lot of smaller SS coils for free. My idea is to chain them together, and place into a big igloo cooler filled with ice and salt water. Then I will chain this into the bucket of water with the pump, and feed the output of my immersion chiller through these new coils. Essentially I’m trying to save water and ice, and speed up the process, and I feel like these extra coils may help me get better water cooling while not melting the ice nearly as much. This will conserve ice and possibly require less water overall. Does anyone think this is even worthwhile, or am I just putting lipstick on a pig? I really hate how long the cooling takes, even with my current setup

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Sounds like a plan! Just make a big loop. Nice that you got the coils.

With the way you’re describing it 45 mins sounds unreasonable. Are you agitating (stirring) the wort while chilling?


Are you stirring or swirling the wort? Keeping the fluid moving on both side of the chiller helps the rate of heat transfer quite a bit.

OOpps - great minds think alike ? :slight_smile:

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So I do 3-gallon AG, but otherwise a similar situation.

The pump sits in a Home Depot bucket in the sink. I run the faucet into the bucket, turn on the pump, and let the chiller dump-out into the sink.

Once the wort had gotten to ~100ºF, I put the chiller’s out back into the bucket and turn off the faucet. The pump->chiller is now essentially a closed loop.

To the bucket I then add ~10 lbs of convenience store party ice. If the ice doesn’t last, I’ll add another 1/2 bag.

Throughout the process I stir the word with the chiller every few minutes. I can usually get to <70 in <20 min.

I have thought about adding salt to get some extra chill, there was a pretty funny thread about this a few years back.
My conclusion was that the cost of the salt is not worth the time improvement, plus running salt water through the pump will seriously shorten its life.
Cheap “road salt” has particulates that will also wear the pump, so you’d want something like pretzel salt or Kosher salt, which is $$$

I admit I initially forgot to swirl the wort, but after about 20 minutes I did indeed start to stir it around.

I also agree that salt would be corrosive to my pump, but my idea was to add it to the cooler that will house the new coils. That way, the large amount of SS will be the only thing touching the salt water.

Cooling has always been a thorn in my side. Overall, my current setup works well… It just takes more time than I’d like. I know IC’s will always take some time, but I just want to shorten it.

I just got the jaded hydra immersion chiller, as mentioned in my post of best type of chiller. 10 minute chill time is definitely worth the investment. What you are doing sounds worthwhile if you don’t want to invest and we should all appreciate conserving water when possible. Also, the hydra chiller is nothing more than three wort chillers combined into one giant immersion chiller. So if you can do some soldering you might be able to combine a few chillers into one and merging them all into a single input and output garden hose fitting.

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To cool to what temperature? As the difference between wort temperature and water temperature gets closer it does take longer and longer. I have had similar thoughts as yours and I think it will work. I don’t think you need the salt at all. You aren’t trying to preserve the freshness of a salt water fish that exists at cold deep temperatures so you don’t need to try and take the water that low.

Your CO2 tank has very cold liquid in the bottom… If you turn it upside down it will come out… The trick would be to meter it so you won’t need to ruin the gauges… HVAC peeps use that for freezing lines that can’t be shut off when a fitting has to be installed… But their CO2 tanks has an internal tube that goes to the bottom of the tank to get to the liquid stuff… I know, it sounds crazy, but I’ve watched it being used a few times, and the wheels start spinning! Sneezles61

I was trying to get to 70 degrees or so.

I’m sure the salt is overkill but I figured anything to speed the process up. More surface area in colder water can never hurt.

My goal is to either just port the coils together with hose fittings if possible, but since they’re stainless I would have to weld them together if necessary. I know how to weld and own the necessary equipment, but stainless is a hassle so I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Also, I don’t have a CO2 tank yet. Haven’t made the jump to force carving. In college I once made a rig that essentially used those cans of air that clean off keyboards. If you turn them upside down at any point, the air comes out super cold. I rigged it up so that I could chill any beer or soda in like 2 minutes, came in handy

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In the first stage when you are dumping the super hot water I would have your faucet water pass through the ice bath. Then close loop it

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Yea I already basically do that

People get obsessed with chill time. And I admit I did as well. I would stick the pot in a ice bath and run my IM through ice the water and chilled the wort in 20-30 minutes. I wp just about everything anyway and actually have trouble chilling to fast through my wp. I just chill out with a brew and get things picked up.


Same, I’m not in a race anymore. Conserving water is a good thing but it takes energy to make ice. I use all my cooled chill water to water my plants.


I’m not racing or anything, just trying to wrap things up. I’m not the type of person who enjoys sitting around doing nothing while I just wait. By the time cooling is done, I’m well past cleanup, I’ve already had a few beers throughout the entire brew process, and I’m worried about infection. At that point, I’d like to be done and safe, so speed does matter

I did measure the amount of chilling water one time… I got 35 gallons of water! Perhaps the efficiency should be measured by volume instead of time… Food for thought. Sneezles61

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Completely agree. I’ve measured in the past and I use less than 10 gallons. So if I can continue to use the approximate 7 gallons but decrease time, I think it’d be huge

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Check the archives of Basic Brewing Radio, James did a couple episodes talking about this. IIRC he was running from the garden spigot into the chiller. Slowing the flow through the chiller seriously conserved water.

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So… I just received the stainless coil from my “source” (aka my dad)… Its not a standard coil. It’s a counter flow chiller. Nice for sure, but I don’t currently have the ability to hook my boil kettle up to a pump, because I don’t have an outlet port on my kettle.

Eventually I will figure something out, temporarily I can pump the hot water from the outlet of the IC through the CFC, which would be still placed in the ice bath with a tiny pond pump pumping the same ice water through the CFC. It is a little overkill and may not work as I intend, but it’s a start until I can figure out the boil kettle port

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