I've been thinking about using my copper immersion chiller a little differently lately...

Instead of placing it in the wort near the end of the boil and circulating cold water through it, I'm thinking to place the chiller in an ice bath and circulate the wort through the chiller, either into my carboy or back into the kettle for recirculation.

I took a quick video of the setup here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI43QHaNjBE&feature=autoshare

I liked the results I got, and it'll allow me to expose less of the surface of the wort to air which I also like, but I haven't seen this approach anywhere before... any thoughts on whether it's a good idea or not or whether it should be any better or worse than the traditional immersion chilling technique?

  • What are you using to pump the wort through the coil?
    – GHP
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 12:10
  • In my experiment with water I used gravity just like any normal siphon, and it seemed to give a good flow. Do you think the wort will be too thick for me to be able to pull that off? Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 14:31
  • It will definitely not be too thick, though if you're not filtering hop material, that might be a problem. The usual problem with gravity-feeding is just cooling it all in one pass.
    – jsled
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


It's a fine idea.

The nice thing about the "traditional" approach is that the surfaces that touch the wort are exposed, easily cleaned, and can be inspected for cleanliness. Plus, as someone commented, you'll need a pump to move the wort through the IC, which is another complication and something else to clean.

For a long time, I did something similar (and maybe what I'd recommend instead): an ice+water "pre-chiller", which I used a $70 1/4hp Lowes sump pump to move through the IC in a closed loop. During winter, the whole pre-chiller would freeze into a solid block of ice, which I would break up with a pick and add some water to for the next brew session.

Some people can seem to get ice near pennies/pound; it is a lot more expensive here in Vermont for some reason.

  • Thanks, an that's definitely an interesting thought. I think I'll try my approach at least once, just for curiosity's sake, then shop around for pumps. Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 15:18
  • If you do feed wort through the coil, make sure you employ some protocol for cleaning. A hot-water + PBW flush and/or soak, at least, probably followed by some way to dry it out to prevent mold growth. Same deal as for plate chillers, really.
    – jsled
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 16:17
  • 2
    the drying out portion sounds like the toughest part. I've been looking for a reason to buy an air compressor, though :) Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 16:57
  • 1
    in my exoerience, if you buy a cool tool, you will always find a reason to use it.
    – Ugly Dude
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 21:15

A lot of people use copper immersion coils in a ice bath as a "post" chill, but you can also use it as your only source of chilling if you have enough ice.

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