After reading this question about the amount of water used in immersion chilling (and various other wort chilling), I realized just how much water was being used in a standard brew. This seems quite wasteful to me at the cost of speeding up cooldown time.

How can I (practically) conserve the water used in the immersion chilling process?


4 Answers 4


I start by saving the hottest water in my sink, to be used for cleaning the immersion chiller and other items post-brew. Once I have enough there, I save the water in buckets to be used for watering plants inside and out. Once the wort temperature drops to 120-130 F I switch over to a closed system. I have a small picnic cooler with a submersible pump in it, and I fill the cooler with ice water. The return water from the immersion chiller goes back into the cooler. I add more ice as needed, and if it gets too full I run some of the water off to a bucket. You could use a closed system from the start if you have a large enough reservoir of cold water and ice.

  • I hadn't considered a closed system before. This way, the only thing I would "spend" is the cost of energy to cool the reused water. I suppose no matter what, there's a cost that cannot be totally compensated unless there were snow outside :) Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 18:26
  • @GigaFemto, awesome improvement on the closed system approach. I also use cooler with ice and a submersible pump but I never thought to route the hottest water out for cleaning. I have repeatedly upscaled my ice cooler and submersible pump in a reasonably successful attempt to handle all the heat, but then I waste water during the washing. I will be trying your technique next time. Thanks! Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 19:51
  • @NeatoBandito, If you have a separate meat freezer, you can get a little more value out of your refrozen ice cooler melt by storing it in there, rather than in a less critical freezer. In the case of a power outage or compressor break, the 5+ gallons of ice can keep your perishable foods fresh for a very long time. I know this sounds far fetched, but it actually happened to me and that night, my brewing hobby saved me a fortune! Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 19:52
  • @HenryTaylor Interesting use. I don't currently own a deep freeze (or standalone freezer), but could fill gallon bags to freeze for household use (ice packs and other general cooling). I'll be sure to try that, thanks. Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 20:09

Slowing down the stream might help conserve some (the water stays in the pipe longer and heats up more); but often people find a use for the water instead.

One suggestion is to send your hose into a washing machine to pre-fill it.

I use it to top up the garden pond. Yes it is very warm at the beginning but dilutes easily (no boiled fish!) as the pond is 2ft deep; and in a very short time the water output is at a more fish-friendly temperature.

  • In the past, I have used the "runoff" water to hydrate the lawn/plants. I have even considered storing some of it in empty gallon jugs. I hadn't considered slowing the stream, though. Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 18:15
  • The water that comes out of the immersion cooler is still clean, just warmed up. The suggestions above of filling the washing machine, watering the flowers, and washing brewing hardware are all good (and I've done them all) and I would recommend any of them. Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 20:14

To go along with winwaeds answer flow is usually really over done by most.

I made my own immersion chiller, when I did I built in two temp probes. What I found is that I could reduce the flow to a trickle about 0.5 gallons per minute was optimal for my chiller, more flow didn't pull any more heat off.

So basically very little water really needs to be used. Especially if you can use ice water for the chill.

in/out probes

  • 0.5 gallon! I initially read that as 0.5 grammes - and thought you were smoking something :-) Must have been my careful hop measuring yesterday (my scales are 1dp decimal oz but the recipe had 0.25/0.75 oz - so I switched to grammes). This time I dumped to the pond again, but the pond is still low, so flow rate wasn't an issue either way.
    – winwaed
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 15:56
  • @winwaed yes gallons, edited. Ideally if your exit temp is the same as the wort in the kettle you're at max chill efficiency. Commented May 1, 2017 at 16:06

I have a 3 vessel system, with each HLT/MLT/BK at 20 gallons. I run the water fairly slowly, and collect in the HLT, either for use in cleaning or even a new brew. The water will keep fine for 24 hours when covered.

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