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Recirculating icewater through an immersion chiller

Does anyone do this? I just threw together a setup where I plan on recirculating icewater from a 15 gallon tub pumped through my immersion chiller with a pond pump. Since I havent used this yet, i was wondering if anyone had any idea how much ice i should buy. I realize the first bit of water that comes out will melt the ice pretty quick and taper off so will 2 of those big bags of ice (22lbs i think they are) be enough to cool 5-6 gallons of wort?

My thought was I start out with just enough water to keep the pump submerged, add 1 bag on top of that. As that eventually melts add the second bag and that should have me pretty close to full in the bucket. I can always just dump some out to make room for more water/ice.

Looking for any pointers from anyone who’s used a similar system

That’s plenty of ice. I chill first with hose water and then switch to ice water. I fill my mash tun with water and add a bag of ice.

I don’t know how much extra cooling you get from melting the ice, but 15gal of cold water at 1C plus 6gal at 100C averages out to 29C which is 84F.

Same for me, but I use a bucket. I run the hottest water into my mash tun and other buckets for clean up. Once the water is down to a decent temp, I add the ice. 22 lbs is plenty using this set up, but my tap water is rarely above 68 or so.

If you are going to have to make room in the container for more ice, I would suggest running out the first 5 gallons into a seperate vessel. That would be your hottest water. After the then start re-circ’ing it with the cold ice water. That would keep the temp down on the re-circ water and make it all go faster. I do this in the winter. I fill a large tote with water and snow. I run out the first 5 gallons into a seperate bucket then re-circ until I hit my target temp.

^^ Right there. The hot water is good for cleaning. I run out of the tap to drop the temp, then pump ice water to finish off.

I do this with a counter flow chiller. It takes me 2 -3 small bags of ice to go from boiling to 59* in about 12-15 minutes

10-15 lbs ice in a “Homer Bucket” with enough water to get the pump running through my SS chiller. 212->60 in ~20 min.

The effect of the melting ice is huge, taking it through a phase change (solid to liquid) absorbs lots of energy.

One BTU is the energy to raise one pound of water one degree F. But melting the ice absorbs ~ 145 BTU per pound.

As others have said, just use tap water to get most of the heat out. You don’t need the ice until you get the wort closer to the tap water temperature. At that point, you want to increase the difference in temperature. For example, if your tap water is 70F - when the wort starts out around 200F, that is around a 130F difference, and you will get fast cooling. If you kept it near freezing with a lot of ice, that only increases the difference a fairly small amount, say 200F-35F = 135F, about 27% more delta.

If you start with ice and boiling hot wort, you just end up melting the ice, and you want that to be nice and cold near the end, when the wort temperature is coming down closer to the coolant temperature. A simple way tho think of this - if the heat melted all the ice and got the chill water up to 70F, you could never get your wort below 70F. But if you save the ice for the end, and then it drops near 32F, you can chill the wort further.

You can calculate this by using those pounds of water and ice and BTU figures.

-kenc

The purpose of doing is this to be more environmentally conscious and save water. With this method, I used 15 gallons of water and no more. That’s about the equivalent of leaving the water hose run for about 5 minutes. I would probably need to run the water about 5 times that or more to cool this down with just tap water.

The purpose of doing is this to be more environmentally conscious and save water. … [/quote]

Two words. No Chill. :wink: (search if that is not familiar to you, but basically let it cool off on its own - zero water usage)

-kenc

The purpose of doing is this to be more environmentally conscious and save water. … [/quote]

Two words. No Chill. :wink: (search if that is not familiar to you, but basically let it cool off on its own - zero water usage)

-kenc[/quote]
I have reservations about doing a no-chill. I want to clean everything up after brewing, and I’m not going to lug 5 - 6 gallons of 200 degree wort down my basement steps. Also don’t want to risk leaving sugary wort in the prime bacterial temp range without getting that yeast in there to get busy. I have to say though the prospect of not cleaning an immersion chiller or messing with the cooling process does sound good! Do you transfer to carboy while hot so you can clean your boil kettle? I’d be worried about cracking the glass with hot wort?
As far as chilling goes, I now use a 10 gallon cooler, fill with water to cover pump and either 1 or 2 big bags of ice. 1 bag if running the hose first for about 5 min to knock temp down.

This will probably not apply to most, but I actually have two immersion chillers. I had an old 25 ft chiller and then got a 50 ft chiller from my wish-list for my birthday. I wanted the 50 ft just to keep from having to move the chiller coil up and down to expose the coil to the full depth of the wort. A luxury instead of a necessity for sure.

Anywhoo, what I do now is I use both chillers in tandem. The 25 ft chiller is set in a bucket of ice water. That is hooked up in tandem to the 50 ft set in the kettle,

So the water that cools the wort is pre-chilled and there is no dilution of it with hot water.

I guess there is no real savings from a water conservation standpoint, other than cooling going quickly. But it sure is easy

[quote=“Beer Goggles”][quote=“kenc_zymurgy”]
Two words. No Chill. :wink: (search if that is not familiar to you, but basically let it cool off on its own - zero water usage)

-kenc[/quote]
I have reservations about doing a no-chill. I want to clean everything up after brewing, and I’m not going to lug 5 - 6 gallons of 200 degree wort down my basement steps. Also don’t want to risk leaving sugary wort in the prime bacterial temp range without getting that yeast in there to get busy. I have to say though the prospect of not cleaning an immersion chiller or messing with the cooling process does sound good! Do you transfer to carboy while hot so you can clean your boil kettle? I’d be worried about cracking the glass with hot wort?
As far as chilling goes, I now use a 10 gallon cooler, fill with water to cover pump and either 1 or 2 big bags of ice. 1 bag if running the hose first for about 5 min to knock temp down.[/quote]

There are lots of threads on no-chill here and at home brew talk, so you can get many more viewpoints with a search, but my experience…

Do NOT pour boiling hot wort into a carboy - you risk shattering the glass. I just pour into my plastic bucket fermentor. I set in a big rubbermade style tub, and then slide that out to my porch to cool. I don’t carry it down to the basement until it has cooled.

Also don’t want to risk leaving sugary wort in the prime bacterial temp range without getting that yeast in there to get busy.

I actually think no-chill is less risky. 200F wort goes into the sanitized bucket, it gets sealed with a one-piece airlock, so everything is way above pasteurization temperatures, and sealed. Think about how long your conventionally cooled wort is exposed to the elements while it is below 160F and heading towards pitching temps. Mine is sealed away. Have not had any problems. I pitch later that evening (I generally brew when it is cool outside, so my wort chills in ~ 8 hours), but many no-chill proponents brew up several batches in one day, and then leave them sit for weeks or months before pitching. I don’t think you could do that with conventional chilling - so which is more sanitary? No-chill can do that, so I don’t think my 8 hour (or next morning if not so cool) lag is an issue.

I like not having to mess with any chilling equipment, or worry about a water source (I’m on a well with marginal capacity, and I have to be careful). But it’s not for everyone - if you really want to be done all in one shot, this may not be for you. With no-chill you are done with the brew-day sooner, but you need to come back later to pitch. No problem for me, but for some it won’t work with their schedule.

-kenc

How do you avoid the cooling wort from sucking all the liquid from your airlock? Bummer about having to go w/o the carboy. I still enjoy watching the swirl of active fermentation. Still intrigued though and will likely give it a whirl sometime, if nothing else just to save some time and scrubbing. Would also be good for a day where I want to brew but have not made a starter. Something to add to the arsenal.

With the one-piece air-lock, the bubbles just flow through and the liquid (I use starsan) just stays in the bottom of the loop. I also throw a sanitized plastic baggie over the airlock, and a starsan soaked paper towel around the base of that. So the air leaking in as it cools has to pass through a bit of a trap before getting in. Probably overkill, but the bubbles flow pretty fast at times through the airlock, and I think maybe there isn’t enough contact time in case any ‘bugs’ got sucked in along with that air.

If you look through the no-chill threads, you’ll see that most people transfer the hot wort to a sanitized plastic jerry-can, then squeeze it to push out the air and cap it. No suck-back that way. When cool, you can then put it in a glass carboy and pitch. I prefer just going direct to the plastic fermentor, but there are lots of options.

-kenc

For those of us in the far north (I live in MN), I’ve found a method that works pretty well. I have two large plastic garbage cans that I fill with water up to about two thirds full. I let the cold during the winter freeze the water into gigantic ice cubes and set the kettle on the ice and add water to bring the level of to the level of the cooling wort. I then stir the ice cold water around the kettle and every few minutes stir the wort. As the ice cube melts and the level of water rises I either remove some water or switch to the other garbage can with ice. Yesterday it took me about twenty five minutes to cool down to 65, my pitching temp. This method isn’t super fast, but it uses very little water – most of it I allow to refreeze. In case the weather is above freezing for too long, I put patio blocks in the water before it freezes so I have a stable base to set the kettle on and let the large volume of ice cold water cool the wort. I suppose this could work in areas where it gets cold but not enough to freeze the water. I also have minimal clean up work afterward. During the summer I switch to a wort chiller and garden hose/municipal water and collect the water, let it cool, and use it to water my garden. Alternatively, I’ve used my garbage cans (my “hillbilly wort chillers”) to hold water with the patio blocks inside to provide a base and run water into the barrels slowly and collect the run off. Very little water is wasted in all methods and I get my beer cooled relatively quickly.

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