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I now have an immersion wort chiller, it does a pretty decent job chilling boiling wort to around 85-90F very fast, about 5 minutes, but from there to 65-70 it takes a lot, maybe 15 minutes more and I waste a lot of water. I friend suggested that i put sanitized ice packs directly into the wort once it reached the 90F mark to speed things up. Just to be clear im not saying throwing the ice packs into boiling wort, I mean put them in after the wort has cooled enough not to melt the plastic on the ice packs.

What do you think, would this work? do I risk infection?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would pass on that technique. Most ice packs I have seen have weird textured surfaces. There is also embossed lettering on them too. The likelyhood of actually sanitizing all though nooks and crannies is low.

Unless you are talking about sourcing some uber smooth surfaced bottles and freezing them it might be worth a try on a few brews.

I suggest you try stirring the wort. Put a good spoon in there right before you start chilling. Once the wort gets down to 90F start stirring every once and a while to circulate the wort around the chiller. That should help.

Keep in mind too that if your ground water is only 60F it will take a long time no matter what you do to stir.

Look into using a prechiller to get that chill water down to 40-45F.

I use a pump to recirc the wort while using an IC (whirlpool chilling, not my idea. I take no credit for it.) I go from boiling to 65F in 40 minutes this time of year. In the summer I set up a prechiller and get about the same rate.

Sound though like you are chilling really fast already. Compared to most people, I think you are already using much less water than everyone else. If its a big concern you could slow the flow and maybe add 10 more minutes to the chill, but save on water.

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Assuming that you have cleaned and sanitized the ice packs, this should work.

Are you stirring the wort while it cools? I find this helps a lot, especially as the temperature cools. Without stirring the cooled wort will sit over the chiller and the center of the pot isn't as effectively cooled.

Sticking your kettle in an ice bath once you get to the lower range could also help, without risking infection from adding ice packs.

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+1 stir, stir and then a bit more. An IM chiller is a heinously inefficient device when the wort isn't moving, even more so as the wort temperature drops. –  mdma Mar 31 '12 at 0:04

I have a copper wort-chiller as well, but before I had it, I used ice to cool my beer.

I would sterilize Pyrex glass containers, and put boiled-and-cooled water in them, and into the freezer a few days before brewing. I would put the pot in a sink full of cold water, and put the ice from the container into the pot (not the whole container).

I just topped the beer up a bit less when it went into the primary fermenter.

Since you have a wort-chiller, you could drop one in once the temp hits 90F to speed up the process.

If you do this, don't use large Pyrex containers. The water freezes at the edges of the container first, and the center last. When the center freezes, it pushes in all directions, not just up; all the ice expands, and breaks your container. I've broken 1-litre Mason jars this way.

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That could work, i would also fill them with boiled water. What type of container did you have in mind? Being the wort would be around 90F, HDPE may be overkill but you could worry less of any stress causing these to leak.

If any of these were to leak, the water would be sanitized, but that could totally screw up your OG.

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