Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wood Fired Cedar Hot Tub

For years Sam has dreamed about getting a wood fired cedar hot tub.  Whenever we would get back from a long run, bike ride or hike Sam would mention, "wouldn't it be great if we could soak in a hot tub right now?"  So recently we decided to quite literally take the plunge and we purchased a kit to build our own cedar hot tub.  




With the help of a few good friends, Sam poured a concrete slab a few weeks ago to be the base where we placed the hot tub.
 



The tub rests on four cedar joists and we installed a drain that we can thread a garden hose onto for easy emptying.  In the winter, emptying it will probably mean that we have our very own ice skating rink as well!










Sam pounded as I held staves in place.  It was like assembling a giant puzzle, making the pieces fit together with just the right spacing.




We read and re-read the directions, trying to make sure we got each step just right.  The trick was making all the flat boards  come together to create a circle.




The wood is gorgeous western red cedar.  It smells wonderful and has beautiful natural color.  Cedar is supposed to weather well and not need any finishing or coatings.


                                       

We eventually got all of the staves onto the base and then made adjustments to ensure the gaps between the boards were as minimal as possible.

 

 Metal hoops hold the tub all together. The design is basically like a giant barrel.  We made many adjustments, hammering on the staves and hoops to get the tub as round and tight as possible.
 





I built the fence as Sam assembled the benches.


The wood stove is mounted onto the wall of the tub.  It will actually be submerged in the water, efficiently heating the water all around it.  The great thing about a wood fired hot tub is that it heats quickly and all it needs is wood, no electricity or other fuel.



The "Snorkel Stove" was designed by a UAF graduate student with his ski buddies.  So it is a Fairbanks original idea, although now they are sold by a Seattle based company.
Let the filling begin!  Our first filling took quite a while.  Initially the water leaked from many small cracks.  As the water level rose, the tub looked like it was bursting at the seams.  The instruction manual assured us that leaks are common and that as long as there are not large openings the wood will swell and become more water tight as it saturates. As of our second filling, it is already holding water much better.  We no longer have gushing leaks, just a few steady drips.  Hopefully we can get it water tight and heated up enough to soak very soon!

Our well water is a brisk 40 degrees and a fire cannot be started until the water completely covers the stove, so initially the tub was more suitable for polar bears than people.  Once it is full and a good fire is going it is supposed to be able to heat up 30 degrees an hour!




The Snorkel Duck was our "Free Gift" that came with the kit!

8 comments:

Katie Troyer said...

This is beautiful.

Hot Tub Specialist said...

What an awesome work you did there! Hope you will have a great time soaking in your wood fired cedar hot tub.

larrylouis said...

Hi thank you for sharing such type type of good information about cedar hot tubs it is very clear information.thank you very much posted with images nice posting.

Retha Ison said...

“The tub was more suitable for polar bears than people.” - LOL! I've read this part just when I'm about to state my admiration to your tub. I like the design though; perhaps I could purchase something like that meant for humans. :)

Retha Ison

Mike said...

Nice post. I am glad that I found it. I am curious how the tub has held up for you over the last year? I am considering building a cedar tub and wondering if this is a good route. Also, do you have to empty the tub every time you're doing so that it doesn't freeze (since it won't stay hot without a fire in it)?
Thanks!

SCC said...

The tub has held up great over the past year. I would recommend SNORKEL. The tub is never supposed to be empty--that hurts the integrity of the wood. In the deepest cold of winter I usually drain the tub leaving a foot of water in the bottom then let that freeze to maintain the tub's shape. This is what SNORKEL recommended when I called. In the sub zero temperatures it uses a lot more wood to heat and doesn't maintain its temperature for long without a fire, despite the thick double covers.

Steve Nelson said...

That's a cute snorkel duck! Haha. Kudos to you guys for building it yourselves! Good decision in getting a hot tub too. Seeing as how you guys seem to be such an active couple, hot tubs can be a good therapeutic relaxation to sooth your tired muscles after a strenuous activity. Hope you're enjoying your new hot tub!

Steve Nelson

Leena Wolf said...

Nicely done! Seems like it took you a great deal of effort to build it. No wonder it looks like it was done by a professional. I would love to get soaked in that after a long hike.

Leena Wolf