Making a Wort Chiller
I’m getting set up to do my first All Grain batch of beer. The last thing on my list is a wort chiller. If you’re brewing 5 gallon batches, the wort chiller is a must have for getting the wort cooled in a fairly decent amount of time. Ice baths don’t cut it on big boils.
After some research, I’d figured out it was pretty easy to make a wort chiller yourself. Even with that knowledge, I had decided to just buy one. I found some pretty good deals on eBay, but once I ran some numbers, I finally talked myself in to saving some money and making one myself. Makes a good page for my beer blog, right?
It’s pretty common to see similar wort chillers go for about $58, shipped, on eBay. I’ll list out all my prices, but my total came out to just $33.04. Even with the purchase of a tube bender, my total bill was only $48.01. Saved ten bucks AND get a new tool for my toolbox.
Making a wort chiller is actually really easy, and doesn’t require you to purchase many items. I purchased an adapter for my kitchen sink, which you may not need if you can use your hose year round.
Stuff to Make a Wort Chiller
- 3/4 FH x 3/8 Barb – Hose Barb Adapter – $7.43
- #4 Clamp 2pk – $1.04
- 20ft. of 3/8″ OD Copper Coil – $19.97
- 7ft. 3/8″ ID Vinyl Tubing – $2.31
- Sink/Hose Connection Adapter – $2.29
- 3-in-1 Lever Tube Bender – $14.97
Coiling the Copper
What you’ll want to do is find something round to wrap the copper around. The idea behind this is to keep you from getting any kinks in the copper. It’s very soft and it’ll bend really easy if you try to do it without something to wrap it around. I can speak from experience on this one.
I’ve read that you want the wort chiller to be about 2″ from the sides of your brew pot. Your goal, then, would be to find something round that fits about 2″ off the edges of your pot. I have a strange turkey fryer pot that flares out at the top, but is narrower at the bottom, so I needed a little smaller coil than most might. I opted to use one of my corny kegs, then wrap it slightly smaller by hand. Not perfect, but it’ll work.
The copper comes coiled up, so it’s not hard to get it coiled tighter. that part is easy. The first real challenge is sending the one end back through the middle. It gets a little tricky not to kink anything when you’re tightening the coil to send it back through. You may want to do this before making the coils smaller, too. Maybe that’d help. I eventually got it, but it was a pain.
Once I had one end sent through, and I straightened that piece out, I put it back on my corny keg to get things reformed. I’d moved quite a bit around trying to get the end through, so I wanted to pretty it up a bit.
Next step was to straighten the top piece to match the one I had pushed up through the coils. This gives you your entrance and exit spouts. I used my bending tool to create the bent pieces where the vinyl tubing will be attached.
If you’re happy with your spirals, and you’ve got everything bent where it needs to be, the last step is just to attach the vinyl tubing. I purchased 3/8 inner diameter tubing, so it fit like a glove on the 3/8″ outer diameter copper. I used hose clamps, but I think you could get by without.
At this point you’ll add the pipe to hose attachment. I’m not sure whether you want the cold water to travel down the spiral and out from the bottom or the other way around. I think I decided there would be less resistance to go that route. Probably doesn’t matter much either way.
That’s pretty much it. Hook it up to the sink to give it a test run. If you don’t have any major leaks, you’re good to go. I plan to boil mine before i use it to get it clean enough to drop in a pot of wort, too.