Wooden Hot Tubs: 24 Most-Asked Questions


There’s a lack of information around frequently asked questions relating to wooden hot tubs, which is why I decided to answer them all together in this one article.

This guide is especially useful if you’re thinking about purchasing a wooden hot tub. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to get in touch with me using the contact page.

1. How do wooden hot tubs work?

Wooden hot tubs work using one of three heating methods: electric, gas, and wood-fired. Electric wooden hot tubs use a 240V circuit to power the heater in the tub. This gives you control over the water temperature via a control panel near the tub.

Gas wooden hot tubs use a gas line for operation. When the gas heater is turned on, a small fire ignites. And as the hot tub water passes over the heating element, it heats up. 

Wood-fired wooden hot tubs use a log-burning stove for operation. The hot tub water heats up by absorbing heat from the stove.

2. Do wood-fired hot tubs need chemicals? 

No, wood-fired hot tubs don’t need chemicals. Compared to other types of hot tubs, wood-fired tubs are usually used differently. Users typically fill the tub, use it 2 to 3 times and then drain the water. With this short-term use, there is no need for chemicals in wood-fired hot tubs. 

However, if you plan on leaving the water in the tub for a while, you will need to add a filtration system and sanitize the spa water with chemicals.

3. How do you keep the water clean?

To keep the water in your wooden hot tub clean, you’ll need to clean and scrub the inside of the tub regularly. Do this when the tub is empty so that when you fill it with water, the water will be free of debris and other particles. Ensure you rinse the tub after scrubbing it.

You can also scrub the sides of the hot tub using a soft brush and a mild bleach/water solution.

4. How often do you have to fill a wood hot tub?

If you have a wood-fired hot tub and you’re using it without chemicals, you’ll need to refill the tub after every 2 or 3 uses.

But if you have a gas or electric heater and a filtration system, you can use chemicals to sanitize the water in between soaks. This way, you only need to drain and refill the tub every 3 months (depending on usage).

5. How much wood does a cedar hot tub use?

A cedar hot tub uses a moderate size wheelbarrow load of dry wood. This wood goes into the wood stove or aluminum tub heater, which then powers the hot tub.

If the hot tub is in a location close to a forest, then you can easily get wood from the surrounding area. But if you’re not close to some trees, your only option is to go and buy wood from a wood supplier.

6. How long does it take to heat up?

A wood-fired hot tub takes an average of 2.5 hours to heat up completely. Typically, most wood-fired hot tubs spend between 2-6 hours before heating up to 104°F (40°C). 

Some factors that can affect the heating time of a wooden hot tub include ambient temperature, the initial temperature of the hot tub water, the size of the hot tub, and the volume of water in the tub. In addition, using an insulated cover can speed up the heating process.

7. How long will my wood-burning hot tub stay hot?

Your wood-burning hot tub will stay hot as long as you keep adding more wood. But you can expect the temperature to drop by around 15-18°F (8-10°C) per day. 

If you want the tub to remain hot until the next day, add a little more wood. This way, you won’t have to wait long for the hot tub to heat up. The dryer the wood you use, the longer the tub will stay heated.

8. How much maintenance and upkeep is a cedar hot tub?

You’ll need to treat your cedar hot tub every 6 months using linseed oil and a wood protection agent. Do this for the external parts of the tub but don’t treat the inside of the cedar hot tub. 

In addition, cleaning the inside of the tub with non-caustic soap and a brush or high-pressure cleaner will extend the hot tub’s life expectancy by 10-15 years. Also, you shouldn’t paint a wooden hot tub because it can damage the wood. 

9. How much water do you need to fill a cedar hot tub?

On average, you’ll need about 400 gallons (1500L) of water to fill a cedar hot tub. Most cedar hot tubs require between 350-900 gallons (1300-3400L) of water to fill them. 

For instance, a standard cedar hot tub that can contain 4-5 people will need about 450 gallons (1700L) of water to fill it. Meanwhile, a large hot tub that can contain 6-8 people will need about 650 gallons (2500L) of water to fill it.

10. How do you keep a wood fire hot tub from freezing?

If you have electricity, a stock tank heater is the most simple, effective, and inexpensive way to keep a wood fire hot tub from freezing. 

If water availability is not an issue, drain all but 4-5 inches (10-13cm) of water and let it freeze. These few inches of ice won’t damage the tub. Rather, they will help keep the bottom of the hot tub and the base of the staves (the walls of the tub) “seasoned.” When you are ready to use the hot tub, simply refill it and fire up the stove. 

If water availability is an issue, you can anchor 8-10 floating empty plastic milk jugs at varying levels in the hot tub. When the water freezes and expands, the jugs will act as shock absorbers, preventing the hot tub from getting damaged. 

However, if you do not drain the hot tub and notice a few inches of ice on its surface, start a small fire and let the stove heat slowly. This will melt the ice in the tub.

11. How long do wooden hot tubs last?

Wooden hot tubs can last for 20 years or longer. But it’s unlikely that a wooden hot tub will last for more than 30 years, especially if the hot tub is not well maintained or is left outside in the elements.

Although wood is a tough material, it weakens when constantly exposed to heat and water. So, no matter how much you maintain your wooden hot tub, the wood will eventually rot. 

12. Do you put chemicals in a wooden hot tub?

You can put chemicals in a wooden hot tub; however, most owners prefer to drain the hot tub after each use. The downside to this is that it’s time-consuming and also wastes a lot of water. But if you must use chemicals in your wooden hot tub, it’s best to avoid harsh chemicals like chlorine.

13. Do wooden hot tubs have bubbles?

Wooden hot tubs don’t have bubbles, so if you want bubbles in your wooden hot tub, you’ll have to install an air bubble system. The system should be installed on the bottom of the tub. The bubbles would then come from the bottom and go up to the water’s surface. 

14. Do cedar hot tubs have jets?

Wooden hot tubs don’t have jets, specifically wood-fired wooden hot tubs. But you can install jets in gas or electric-heated wooden hot tubs. One advantage wooden hot tubs have over acrylic hot tubs is that in a wooden hot tub, you can install the jets however you like to suit your personal needs better.

15. Do cedar hot tubs need chemicals?

Cedar hot tubs don’t need chemicals. Most people prefer to drain the hot tub after each use instead of adding chemicals. The only problem is that this is time-consuming and it also wastes water.

So if water accessibility is not an issue for you, you can choose to avoid chemicals and change the water more often. But if you don’t want to drain your tub each time and prefer to use chemicals, it’s best to avoid harsh chemicals like chlorine.

16. Do cedar hot tubs leak?

Yes, cedar hot tubs leak, especially when they are new. A new cedar hot tub would leak for the first few days after assembly. After the first few days, the wood will have swollen properly and formed a tight seal, thereby preventing leakage.

Another thing that might cause a cedar hot tub to leak is when you overuse chemicals. Excess chemicals can attack and destroy the wood, thereby causing leaks. Improper hot tub assembly can also cause leakage in cedar hot tubs. 

17. Do wood-fired hot tubs need electricity?

Wood-fired hot tubs don’t need electricity. They only require dry firewood to run. They generate heat from a log-fuelled fire in a stove. Because wood-fired hot tubs don’t need electricity, they offer several benefits like better operating costs and considerably faster heating than electric hot tubs.

18. Are wood-fired hot tubs eco-friendly?

Wood-fired hot tubs are eco-friendly. Wood is a natural source of renewable and sustainable energy. In addition, when wood burns, it releases no more CO2 than if it were left to rot, so it’s carbon neutral. 

Also, when wood burns, it releases the solar energy it has already stored for its growth. So you’re only contributing to the climate’s natural balance and not adding more CO2.

19. Are wood-fired hot tubs safe?

Provided all the instructions and guidelines are followed, wood-fired hot tubs are safe. Hot tub owners must also take the necessary precautions to ensure safety. 

Many people use wood-fired hot tubs without incident. However, there are very strict criteria surrounding how log-burning hot tubs should be used and managed, especially in a business setting. 

20. What features can a wooden hot tub have?

Some of the features you can find in a wooden hot tub include exterior cladding, hot tub cover, steps, benches, jets, air bubble system, heater, chimney, chimney guard, and a decorative rim that can serve as a surface to place books, phones, candles, etc.

Some wooden hot tubs even come with a drink holder that you can easily reach from within the tub.

21. Are wood-burning hot tubs legal in the UK?

Wood-burning hot tubs are legal in the UK. But if you own a wood-burning hot tub within a commercial setting such as a holiday home, you must comply with the “Domestic hot tubs in a business setting” guidelines, also known as HSG282.

A wood-fired hot tub lacks pumps, a filtration system, and pipework. Therefore, you can’t install an inline dosing system for sanitizer as required by HSG282. This doesn’t immediately rule out a wood-burning hot tub from a holiday let setting, but it does mean you have to adapt your approach.

22. What types of woods are best for a wooden hot tub?

Red Cedar

Red cedar is the best thermal insulator among the other common softwood species. It has very low shrinkage and is far superior to concrete, steel, and brick. Due to its high degree of dimensional stability, red cedar perfectly accepts oils, paints, stains, and other coatings. Red cedar is also free of resin and pitch. As a result, it has excellent gluing properties. 

Yellow Cedar

Yellow cedar, particularly Alaskan yellow cedar, is the toughest and most durable cedarwood available. It has excellent strength, wear properties, and great impact resistance. It also has an incredibly straight grain and is highly decay-resistant. 

Teak 

Teak is an extremely durable material even when it comes in contact with water. Teak has a high oil content, which is why a teak hot tub can regain its natural look, even from a weathered state.

Thermo-processed wood

Thermo-processed wood is made through a chemical-free process using steam and heat vapor. During the thermal modification process, the resin is removed from the wood.

This prevents the wood from secreting resin even in high temperatures. In addition, thermo-processed wood is darker than natural wood, more weatherproof, and more resistant to rot.

Larch

Larch belongs to the heaviest and most resilient conifer wood available on the market. It is resistant to insects and decay. It is also tough, durable, and waterproof. 

Larch is highly eco-friendly and people-friendly and is considered a warm building material. It is also very light and decorative. It has a high wood density and resin substance. 

23. Where to buy wooden hot tubs

Roberts Hot Tubs

Roberts Hot Tubs produces finely crafted wooden hot tubs. Their most popular models are western red cedar tubs, but they also offer Alaskan yellow cedar and teak. Their hot tubs are available in several shapes and sizes.

Snorkel Hot Tubs

Snorkel Hot Tubs offer Western red cedar hot tubs with either wood-fired or gas and electric heating systems. All their wood is hand-selected for quality, ensuring you get the best in precision and craftsmanship.

Berkeley Heat

Berkeley Heat is well known for its hand-produced wooden hot tubs. They have plenty of options available, including customizable wooden hot tubs.

24. Wood Fired Hot Tub Manufacturers in North America

Forest Cooperage

Forest Cooperage produces hot tubs that can be powered by wood stoves or electric heaters. The tubs start at $2,199, with additional accessories available for purchase. However, prices may vary due to the fluctuating cost of lumber.

Goodland

Goodland is a Canadian brand that uses locally-sourced materials and sustainable Western red cedar to make rectangular hot tubs. For $5,975, you can get both a two-person wooden hot tub and a submersible wood-fired stove.

AlumiTubs

AlumiTubs specializes in wood-fired cedar hot tubs built to last a lifetime and guaranteed to never leak. All their hot tubs are suitable for saltwater use and they offer superior heat properties compared to wooden tubs. 

In addition, their hot tubs are preassembled and easy to maintain. Each material is locally sourced and 100% recyclable. The tubs are available in two sizes: 4-5 person tub and 6-8 person tub. Prices start at $4,471.

BZB Cabins and Outdoors

BZB is an American company that manufactures its wood-fired hot tubs in Estonia, a leading country in prefab architecture). The hot tubs offer full therapy pool treatment and arrive onsite already assembled. BZB’s wood-fired hot tubs cost $3,875.

Snorkel

Snorkel makes submersible wood-fired stoves and barrel cedar hot tubs. Tubs and stoves are available for purchase together and separately. A tub and stove start at $5,265.

Northwest Timber Tubs

Every piece of wood in a Northwest Timber Tub is hand selected and comes from certified sustainably managed forests. The company offers custom-made tubs, as well as a standard tub with a pared-back rectangular design for $5,250 and a submersible stove for $750.

Softub Spas

Softub Spas produce portable hot tubs that use electric heaters. The tubs are made in the USA from a durable foam material that makes them easy to roll up and transport. For $4,295, you can get one with hydrotherapy jets and underwater lights.

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