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Polyknikes 08-27-2010 06:09 PM

Soldering question
Hey all,

I am building a wort chiller for my home brewing setup and have a question about soldering.

I bought 1/2 inch OD copper tubing and coiled it into the appropriate size for the brew pot I am using. I ended up kinking the tubing at the bottom when I tried to create a 90 degree bend to have the tubing come up out of the pot and into the sink where it could empty.

To fix this I bought a 90 degree angle copper joint and cut the copper coil at the bottom before the kink. I fitted the two pieces of copper together and the form is great, but the joint leaks slightly, which over time in the wort will mess up the water balance. I was thinking of soldering the joint to the copper tubing but I'm worried it will melt, or leach something harmful into the boiling wort it will be submerged in for up to an hour.

I have never done any soldering before, and could use some help!

Also, if there is any other way I can fix this leak (or at least greatly minimize it) without soldering, but in a way that will still withstand boiling temperatures, please let me know.


LateralConcepts 08-27-2010 07:37 PM

Interesting. Soldering is your best option. Soldering is commonly used in potable water systems made from copper. Nothing toxic about it (use lead free solder of course). Make sure you wipe your joints clean with a rag when you're done.

Polyknikes 08-27-2010 08:45 PM

Thanks for the quick response.

So if I use lead free solder around the exterior of the joint to seal it, and then submerge it into boiling wort for up to an hour it will not melt or leach chemicals into the wort? I want to be clear that the solder will be in direct contact with the boiling wort because so far that has confused a lot of people at the hardware stores!

I found a brass compression joint that fits the copper tubing but I'm afraid that brass (which If I'm not mistaken contains lead) might not be able to stand up to the boiling water or leach something. There's a bit of a language barrier at the hardware stores so I haven't been very confident they know what I'm talking about.

Finally, do you have any recommendations on what type of lead-free solder to use? I noticed silver solder at the True Value while I was there. The manager/owner there kindly offered to do the soldering for me tomorrow morning so that would save me the expense of buying the equipment, and instead I could just buy him the solder perhaps.

Thanks again,

LateralConcepts 08-27-2010 10:00 PM

Hmmm although I love micro-brews, I'm honestly not that familiar with home brewing methods. What is the boiling temperature of "wort"? Water I think is 112 degrees F, which would probably in time melt the solder.

What about trying to heat the copper and bend it instead of soldering a 90?

the_man 08-27-2010 10:51 PM

I would think you'd be fine w/ lead free solder and water based flux. Make sure you flush a lot of water thru the tubing after soldering. Copper and solder (mostly tin and a very minute amount of lead) don't leach many chemicals into water quickly, so I'm sure the wort will be fine.

Polyknikes 08-27-2010 11:18 PM

I have looked at that ehow webpage before actually and while this seems to be the best option I lack the tools to do it. I live in an apartment and don't have access to a work bench or clamp or propane torch. Also I have already cut the copper so I would need to purchase additional copper tubing in order to pull that off. I'm only hesitant to do that because I was hoping to save money by doing this myself rather than buying one from the shop!

I think you meant to say 212 degrees F is the boiling point of water. Wort boils at a similar temperature.

From looking at wikipedia and other websites it seems that a tin-antimony (sn95-sb5) solder is standard in U.S. plumbing and food-industry applications. It says the melting point is at 235 degrees Celsius (or 455 degrees F.) ( says that tin-antimony solder is non-toxic and used for food-industry applications.

Wikipedia, however, says that sn95-sb5 is non-toxic, but in the description says "antimony can be toxic." I don't know if because of the low percentage of antimony or the nature of the solder it is essentially non-toxic or what is going on there.

If the melting point of this solder is 235 C and the wort will be around 100 C, and the solder is the standard for U.S. plumbing and food industry applications, might this be a good choice?

Again, I have no experience with solder so I don't know how it behaves at various temperature ranges so please enlighten me if I am mistaken.

Polyknikes 08-28-2010 12:14 AM


I was reading that antimony is toxic so instead of tin-antimony I was thinking tin-silver could be good. It seems to have similar characteristics but it is more expensive.

hayewe farm 08-28-2010 10:53 PM

I'm guessing you can remove the coil to work on it. Might I suggest you take it to a plumber and have him solder it for you. The amount of leaching you will get with either is negligible.

daveb1 08-29-2010 08:17 AM

Go with soldering or a new coil. You won't be able to properly clean a mechanical connector.Offer the hardware guy a case of your finest brew or teach him to brew his own!

NHMaster 08-29-2010 08:58 AM

Gotta love a guy brewing beer in his apartment :thumbsup:

Either solder it or use a compression fitting. the amount of lead leaching from a single brass compression fitting will never be a problem.

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