How to Clean and Sanitize Your Plate Chiller
As we discussed last week, I’m on the plate chiller/heat exchanger train and couldn’t be happier. One of my primary concerns about making the leap to a plate chiller was the sanitization and clean-up process. I definitely did not want to add more work to an already crowded brew day.
To my pleasant surprise, I have found that with a little planning both sanitizing and clean-up are as easy, if not easier, than they were on my immersion chiller set up.
To start, we recommend you keep as much particulate out of the wort as possible. Be sure you have a nice vorlauf if you mash, and use a hop spider or other mechanism to control your hop particulate…especially if you use whole leaf hops.
Assuming you cleaned your sanitizer since your last brew session, the easiest way to sanitize it is to run boiling wort through it for a couple minutes before flame out. Of course, make sure you are not yet running cold water through the other side as you don’t want to drop the temp significantly at this time, and it doesn’t hurt to run a little water (or star san) through the wort side first to clean out any particulate that may be left from your last brew (a simple brass fitting to connect your hose to the wort input of your chiller makes this super easy). Once I start running wort through the chiller I initially run the return hose from the chiller back into my hop bag to catch any pesky particulate that may have made its way through the system.
Cleaning was the area that surprised me most about the plate chiller. It could not be easier.
- First off, collect the output water from your cooling process in a bucket(s) or another kettle
- Once the wort is cooled and in the fermenter, clean out your BK. I typically give it a good scrub and rinse out the solids
- Fill the BK with several gallons of the water you collected in step 1 and run a couple gallons through the chiller
- Next, reverse the hoses feeding the wort connections on your chiller, such that the output of your pump goes to the “wort out” of your chiller, and the “wort in” of your chiller returns back to the BK
- Add some PBW to the water in the BK and stir it up, then pump it through your chiller and return to the BK. Do this for a couple minutes before draining
- Give the BK a quick rinse, then add more clean water from step 1 (or add fresh water as needed) and run that through the system, outputting onto your preferred drainage source. This will rinse out the remaining PBW
- Finally, disconnect the hoses, remove your chiller from your stand and rotate the chiller to help any remaining liquid find its way out
That’s it! In total, clean-up takes me about the same amount of time as it took me with my immersion chiller, and the actual work is much simpler and I can do other things during a good chunk.
Keep it cool!