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How to make an Immersion Chiller For Cooling Wort

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It's important to quickly cool your boiling wort for a couple of reasons.  Yeast cannot survive in hot wort so it is necessary to quickly cool your wort before pitching the yeast.  Also, quickly cooling hot wort enables homebrewers to achieve an effective cold break that helps to clear the beer.  And don't forget about sanitation.  By cooling wort quickly - it leaves less time that your wort is left open to possible contaminants.

You can add an immersion chiller to your homebrewery by simply purchasing one from your local homebrewing supply shop.  But since you're making your beer yourself, why not save a couple bucks and make your own immersion chiller!  It's not complicated and is a great tool to have in your brewery.

Items you need to purchase:

  • 25' - 50' of 3/8" copper tubing
  • 2 hose clamps
  • 1 cheap garden hose at least 15' in length (You'll be cutting it)
  • 1 Hose Thread Adapter (Optional - To attach the hose to your kitchen sink)

Step 1 - Coil the Copper Tubing:

Your copper tubing proabably came already in a coil.  If so - you can slowly twist the coil tighter by hand.   You can also use the bottom of a corny keg to wrap the coil around.  The final coil size needs to be small enough to fit into your brew kettle with no more than 2 inches between the coils and the sides of the brew kettle.  Be sure to leave about 20" of tubing on one end of the coil

Step 2 - Bend Tube Ends:

Slowly bend the short tubing end about 90 degrees out from the coil.  This is the top of your immersion chiller.  Slowly bend the long tubing end 90 degrees towards the top of the immersion chiller.  Finally, bend the top tubing on the long end 90 degrees out from the coil - similar to the first.  Be sure both ends of the copper tubing hang over the side of your brew kettle a couple of inches.

Step 3 - Cut the Garden Hose:

Now you need to pieces of garden hose.  One piece will go from the water sourse (kithen faucet, outside water spigot, etc) to the immersion chiller and one piece to carry the water out away from the immersion chiller.  Make both pieces of hose no less than 5' in length - one with a male hose connector and one with the female hose connector.

Step 4 - Attach the Garden Hose:

Slide a hose clamp over the copper tubing end followed by the garden hose.  Tighten the garden hose to the copper tubing firmly to avoid any water leaking out, but not so tight that you crimp your copper tubing!  Repeat with the other end of the garden hose and copper tubing.

Step 5 - Test the Immersion Chiller:

It is best to test your immersion chiller to see if you have any water leaks or areas where water may spray into your wort. You will want to fix those issues before you have a brew pot full of hot wort! 

If you are using an outside water spigot - you should be able to attach the female end of the immersion chiller to your water spigot - and run the other end into the grass, garden, or where ever you would like the water to flow into.

If you are using the immersion chiller in your kitchen - you may need to remove the end of the faucet and attach the optional hose thread adapter in order to attach the immersion chiller hose to your kitchen faucet.  Be sure to place the other end into the drain to discard the water.  Also - keep an eye on the hose in the drain to make sure it doesn't move around once the water is moving through it.

Making your own immersion chiller is quite easy and relatively cheap.  You can easily sanitize your immersion chiller by simply placing it into your boiling wort for the last 15-20 minutes of the boil.  By using an immersion chiller - you can quickly cool your wort in approximately 10 - 20 minutes depending on the temperature of the water from your faucet.  You can help speed up the cooling process and use less water by combining an ice bath with the immersion chiller.

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