Well, we have some exciting news on the blog today – we’ve officially finished our DIY wood fired hot tub! This project has been in the works for about 8 months, we’ve been through a lot of turmoil, and we’re so happy that it’s finished! Here’s the scoop on how the last loose ends of the project were tied up.
The Beginning of The Last Stretch: The Stove
When we first decided to build a wood fired hot tub on our property, we honestly thought it would be pretty simple. We thought that we could pick up an 8′ diameter stock tank, plumb in a cheap external stove (a washing machine drum!) and call it a day. Long story short, we decided to build our own hot tub out of cedar for longevity, looks, quality, and to gain new skills.
While our hot tub came together quite well (watch our completely diy cedar hot tub video series here), the last hurdle we had to address was that of the wood stove.
We decided that we wanted a submersible wood stove because that would be the most efficient way of heating the tub. An external stove, whether DIY or something like the Chofu, would have resulted in a lot of heat loss as well as loss of space on the deck.
We didn’t want to buy a brand new submersible wood stove (retailed at $700-900 depending on the brand and size) so we looked into building our own. We contacted a local welder to see if he could get the job done but we had a hard time getting a quote on just the materials cost, and from what we understood, material costs alone could exceed the cost of just buying a done-for-you submersible wood stove.
We looked for used wood stoves (or something that could work as a wood stove) on Craigslist in the past, but it’s not something that you can buy when you want! While they do appear on Craigslist, they are few and far in between.
Help From a Helpful Neighbor
Then, we saw our neighbor out and about one day and it came to his mind that he had a friend who had a hot tub + stove that hadn’t been used in years. He was confident that he would sell the entire thing to us for a great price.
A couple weeks later, we were able to get in contact with this kind man and indeed, he was more than okay letting it go to us. We were able to pick up the submersible wood stove for just $250, and I think we’re going to go back to snag the tub from him as well even though we plan to use our own as it’s smaller and therefor, will heat quicker.
Quickly Installing the Wood Stove
Of all parts of this hot tub project, installing the wood stove was pretty easy! The thing is somewhat of a monster so it did take a little bit of effort to get it secured to the edge, but four bolts and a handful of stainless steel screws later, our tub was rockin’ and rollin’!
Building the Fence
While we were eager to fill the tub back up and stick wood in the stove, we knew that we didn’t want to drain the tub more than necessary so while it was still empty, we built a quick stove from leftover cedar. We’re pretty handy with what we can build out of scrap wood.
Filling the Tub Up for the Last Time
For the last time (for now!), we filled the tub back up. Even though we are completely off the grid with limited water, we are able to keep a 625 gallon cistern at the top of our property filled with water, so adding a few hundred gallons to our hot tub isn’t a big deal since we can easily fill the cistern back up with a couple trips to town.
While it took us a couple of weeks of filling the tub, caulking and being patient, our tub is completely swollen so even after putting four bolts in to attach the stove, it doesn’t leak a drop!
Our tub filled in a matter of 20-30 minutes and the stove is large enough that it displaces a bit of water, which results in a quicker fill time!
Starting the Wood Fired Hot Tub
Even though it was past 11pm at night and we had to be up at 7am, we decided to fire up the stove to see what would happen! After all, we’ve been anticipating this moment for months, it would be torture go to bed without trying out the stove!
We have to say – we’re happy with the efficient design of this stove. The fire lit extremely easily, the stove built heat quickly, and the draft was perfect for keeping the fire oxygenated.
It took a while to get the stove completely hot, but once it was, the temperature climbed quickly. When we first started the fire the water was at 67 degrees Fahrenheit. 1.5 to 2 hours later, our tub reached a peak temperature of 102 degrees. This was on the surface – the bottom of the tub was cooler which was welcomed as 102 is pretty toasty for soaking more than 20 minutes.
In the future, I suspect we will try to keep the tub at around 98 degrees just so that we can stay in the tub for a longer period of time!
Confirming Everything We Thought: The Tub is Awesome
Even though we were exhausted having our first soak at 1am, it was extremely rewarding. We’ve been working on the hot tub project almost since we arrived on our property nine months prior.
We listened to the crackle of the stove, breathed in the steam rolling off of the water, and looked up at the starry night sky. In this moment, everything was perfect.
We know that having the deck will be enjoyable not only as a place to invite guests over for dinner and drinks, but also as a place to stretch and take care of our bodies. Having the hot tub and a clean place to stretch will help us stay in top-notch shape while taking on the building of our home.
Looking Forward: On to Bigger Projects
Part of the reason we haven’t yet started on our house / barn is that we’ve had our energy pulled in a million directions. Building the deck and this hot tub was a critical skill-building project for us as well as an investment in the well-being of our bodies and minds during the big build.
While we still have some personal loose ends to tie up before committing to starting our home, the time is nearing closer and closer with every passing day. We’re catching up on our timber frame reading (just bought nine books!), going over our plans, and have a lot of ideas churning in our heads.
Stay tuned for more updates and a video of our hot tubbing experience!
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