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Not having room or budget for a kegerator at the moment, I am considering building a jockey box for kegging homebrew. There are a lot of plans on the internet for building your own, including suggestions to use food-grade plastic, stainless, or copper for the coiled tubing.

Is there a reason I couldn't use copper for this? It is cheaper than stainless, conducts heat much better than the plastic, and it would seem that I would be able to coil-to-size and attach lines in much the same way I would build my own immersion wort chiller - I think I would have to special order the stainless coils, as I couldn't just bend it round a pot or corny keg.

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Do not use copper with acidic foods

High concentrations of copper are poisonous and acidic foods, especially carbonated foods like beer, will suck it out of the metal. The FDA explains:

4-101.14 Copper, Use Limitation.

When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food. The acid that results from mixing [beer] and carbon dioxide leaches copper from the plumbing components and the leachate is then transferred to beverages, causing copper poisoning. Backflow prevention devices constructed of copper and copper alloys can cause, and have resulted in, the leaching of both copper and lead into carbonated beverages.

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Cold plates can sometimes be found cheaply on Craigslists and eBay. These are usually foodgrade aluminum or stainless. Copper is definately not a great idea for fermented beer. Wort tends to have a pH of about 5.0-5.5. But post fermentation the pH drops a point or so and this level of acidity can react adversely with copper when exposure is extended. How long who knows, but if you ended up leaving beer in the copper coil it could cause a problem.

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