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I've been using a stainless braid for the last 3 years or so in my Igloo Ice Cube cooler. Despite my being careful, it has gotten compressed in a couple of places over the years, and I'd like to switch to some sort of more rigid material for the manifold/screen. I have seen both CPVC and Copper suggested for this, but I am curious about the pros and cons of each. Is there some other material that might be better suited to the rigors and requirements of a homebrewer's mash tun?

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Any comment on the use of polypropylene (PP) for a manifold? It seems that CPVC is unavailable in Germany. –  Michaël Aug 15 at 9:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I used CPVC to build mine. I chose this because it was cheaper than copper with the current copper prices sky-high. I read that you can get away without gluing the manifold together, but I found that the pieces don't fit tightly enough to ensure 100% against coming apart when stirring the mash, so I glued it.

I have a good bit of home plumbing experience - both sweating copper and gluing PVC - and from that I can say that copper will hold together better without sweating than CPVC will without gluing. So if you feel you need to be able to take it apart to clean it, go with copper. That said, I've found I don't need to be able to take it apart. After cleaning out the tun and rinsing everything, I put the manifold back in and fill the tun with about two gallons of hot water and 2 tbsp of oxiclean free (or one-step) and let it sit overnight. The next morning I open the ball valve and let it drain. Any grain or sugars that might have still been inside the manifold come out.

Copper Pros:

  • likely to hold together better without needing to be soldered

Copper Cons:

  • more expensive (at least currently - prices fluctuate wildly)
  • more skill required to adhere it if you want to
  • special tools required to cut
  • difficult to de-burr the inside if you cut slits

CPVC Pros:

  • cheaper
  • easy to adhere (but cpvc cement and primer will cost $10-15 as you have to buy way more than you need (then again, you don't really need primer because the joint doesn't need to be absolutely leak-proof))
  • easy to cut slots & drill holes
  • can be de-burred with your fingers and anything you can fit into the slots

CPVC Cons:

  • more likely to come apart if not glued

Here are some pics of my glued CPVC manifold: enter image description here enter image description here

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3 years is a pretty good run for something that costs about $10 and takes 10 minutes to set up. Keep that in mind when exploring other options.

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Oh, no doubt. It was absolutely the right tool when I started brewing. At this point, though, I know I'm going to continue brewing and don't mind throwing some more money and time at my equipment to have something that suits me a little better. –  baka Jan 25 '11 at 19:03
    
I'm all about throwing money at gear too. It's a... problem. –  hookedonwinter Jan 25 '11 at 19:22
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I have used the same braid in my cooler for 13 years and 392 batches. It's a bit dented, but still functions as well as it did when it was new. –  Denny Conn Jan 26 '11 at 17:43

I have been using a copper manifold for several years now and have found no problems with it. It was a great investment and continues to allow wort to flow even with gluten heavy mashes. It was simple to assemble since there was not soldering or sweating needed. The pieces just fit together in the tun. Cutting the copper was the hardest part.

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