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?
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.
- likely to hold together better without needing to be soldered
- 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
- 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
- more likely to come apart if not glued
Here are some pics of my glued CPVC manifold:
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.