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Wort chillers: stainless vs. copper

I was looking at purchasing an immersion chiller from NB and I noticed they have both copper and stainless. The stainless appears to be cheaper. What are the benefits of copper other than the better temperature transfer and how much of a difference would you notice? Stainless would be more resistant to corrosion which seems like a benefit to me.

Any other advice you can give me on this purchase?

While copper is more conductive than SS I doubt that you would notice much difference in cooling time. Demand for copper is way up, 7-8 years ago you could get those chillers for half of what they sell for now.

I have a stainless steel one, it works great. The water is piping hot when it comes out the other end which shows great conductivity.

Isn’t copper a softer metal than stainless? The stainless should last longer.

Make your own!

With stainless? That sounds difficult.

I use a copper chiller for a couple of reasons. It was cheap to make and IMO beer needs some copper in the boil to help ward off Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) that can cause that dreaded rotten egg/sulfur odor. YMMV… Cheers!!!

Hello hamiltont,

Can you provide some information on how you made your own? I know there are many different ways to make them, so would like to see how your proceeded.

Thanks!

Cheaper is better, IMHO. I have been brewing for 14 years, and I do not own a chiller. I chill in a cold water bath. Works great, at least for my small batch size of 1.5 to 3 gallons.

Dave,

Good point! I am new to brewing, so used an ice bath to cool down my wort, which gave me enough time to go through and do a good job of sanitizing my fermenter and other gear. Maybe in time once I get the process down, I might consider a chiller or making one.

I know that some recipes call for chilling the wort as quick as possible, so this might be the draw for new brewers like myself to be concerned and look for devices such as chillers.

Thanks!

I’m in the same boat… I’m 90% sure I’ll pick up the stainless before my next batch. I’ve tried no chill/ water baths for my last few 5 gallon full boil batches, and haven’t been too happy with the results. I can’t guarantee it’s the slow chilling that’s causing problems, but I’d like to eliminate it as a possibility. I just need to figure out how to hook a chiller up to my utility sink… I’m kind of dense that way, so we’ll see.

[quote=“NFCTinken”]Hello hamiltont,

Can you provide some information on how you made your own? I know there are many different ways to make them, so would like to see how your proceeded.

Thanks![/quote]
Sure. I brew 10 gallon batches so the cold water bath was not an option for me. Here are a few pics. Cheers!!!

The finished product:

http://s1116.photobucket.com/user/tjhamilton/media/Immersion%20Chiller/WortChiller007.jpg.html

Some shots right after I coiled it around a coffee can (inner) and a plastic bucket (outer) and laced it up with 12 ga. copper wire.

http://s1116.photobucket.com/user/tjhamilton/media/Immersion%20Chiller/WortChiller005.jpg.html


http://s1116.photobucket.com/user/tjhamilton/media/Immersion%20Chiller/WortChiller002.jpg.html

That looks awesome! A few question:

  • How much copper pipe (length) do you need? I assume it’s all a single piece?
  • What diameter is the copper pipe?
  • Do I need any tools to bend it, or is it soft enough to bend by hand?
  • What did you use for the garden hose female connectors?

I’m all about DIY. Makes it that much more enjoyable to use something you created.

[quote=“mattnaik”]That looks awesome! A few question:

I’m all about DIY. Makes it that much more enjoyable to use something you created.[/quote]

One thing that’s not been mentioned (or I missed) in this thread is to opt for the largest diameter tubing you can find or afford. Stainless or copper, because of the extra surface area 1/2" tubing is going to transfer heat substantially faster than 1/4" tubing.

We built our own as well using tubing from Home Depot.

We picked up some plastic tubing and screw clamps and a fitting adapter for a garden hose that fits into one end of the plastic tubing and is screw clamped down pretty tight.

Coiled it by hand around the bottling bucket to give a good indicator for diameter that fit nicely into the kettle.

To get the most out of it, we did some simple math and figured out how deep our wort was after the boil (about 13 inches) to figure out how much copper to get if we used the circumference of the bottling bucket so the top of the coil was still submerged. Basically, we wanted our chiller to tough wort from the top to the bottom of the kettle.

Not sure how much it really matters, but it was fun.

I made my own easily out of copper. I just wrapped it carefully around a corny keg and picked up the hardware at lowes. Saves a lot of money.

Just doing some quick pricing of components it looking like it’s gonna cost around $50-$60 to build one. That’s about the price of the stainless immersion chiller here on NB.

Just doing some quick pricing of components it looking like it’s gonna cost around $50-$60 to build one. That’s about the price of the stainless immersion chiller here on NB.[/quote]

Depends on how big the coil is too.

Also, you’ll pay about $14 for shipping from NB too.

The coil I acquired was a 50’-0" length and it was 1/2" dia"

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