Making an Immersion Chiller more efficient

So, let’s get started with the first piece of equipment to be detailed here: the Immersion Chiller.  I had seen plenty of YouTube videos showing how to make one of these and had no doubts about the process.  The thing that got me, though, is the prices that were quoted for the copper tubing.  25 feet for $20 or so?  Yeah, right.  I knew that I was going to convert a keg in which I would be brewing, and brewing 10 gallons at that.  This meant I needed 50 feet of tubing, preferably 1/2 inch.  $87-$104 everywhere I looked.  So much for keeping it under $100.  Then something interesting showed up as a suggestion on Amazon while I was looking at other homebrew equipment.

Home Brew Copper Immersion Wort Chiller – 50 Feet X 1/2 Inch – $88.47

I looked at it, read the reviews, read them again.  I read the description again.  Unbelievable!  Exactly what I was looking for – already formed!  So I bought it.  I knew that once it came in, there were a few things I had to do to it to get it ready for a brew day.  I knew I had a few days before it arrived, so I went to Home Depot and picked up a few things, namely:

25 feet of 18 gauge copper wire for $4.98
Stainless Steel hose clamps for $0.83 each

I already had a set of brand new Washing Machine fill hoses sitting in my laundry room, so I used them for the Immersion Chiller.  Here’s a set that I found:

Washing Machine Fill Hoses for $11.99

This kept me at under $100 for the whole chiller since I didn’t have to buy the hoses.
Chiller   +
Wire      +
Clamps =
$95.11  +
Hoses  =

As you can see, even if you need to buy the hoses, it just barely put it at over $100.

Once the chiller was delivered, I wrapped the coils with the copper wire.  Here is a crude drawing of the method I used:

I wrapped each coil once, then moved down to the next coil.  Once I reached the bottom, I moved back to the top, this time wrapping the wire between the coils like this:

This maintains a constant distance between the coils allowing for more surface area of the copper tubing to come in contact with the wort, allowing for a quicker cool down.  I did this on two sides of the coil.  It also adds a lot of stability to the coil and eliminates the “slinky” effect.

I then cut one end off each Washing Machine fill hose.  I slipped a hose clamp onto each of the bends at the top of the coil (input and output).  Since the inside diameter (ID) of the Washing Machine hoses was smaller than the outside diameter (OD) of the copper, I used a heat gun (you can use a hair dryer) to soften the cut end of the hoses, one at a time.  As each hose softened, I wriggled the hose onto the copper tubing.  Once they were both on, I tightened the clamps.

I then wrapped some copper wire around the output and the top coil to hold the output tube into place.  After using the coil, it was decided that I also needed to wrap the input and output together:

This will be tested out this weekend as we brew our Rye Stout.

Here is how the whole chiller looks:

Placing this into a keg with the top cut out, I can see that 50 feet was the perfect length for the application.

While we are still brewing 5 Gallon extracts, the chiller sits about halfway immersed and cools the wort to pitchable temps in about 7 minutes.  This makes me want to finish up the rest of the equipment to test it all out.

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