First Soak in Our Wood Fired Hot Tub

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.

Here is the end of the project! Isn't she a beauty?
Here is the end of the project! Isn’t she a beauty?

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.

diy cedar hot tub
Check out this beauty! Way better than our metal water trough, right?

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’!

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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.

Our simple fence made from the remaining T&G cedar that we used to build the floor of the tub.
Our simple fence made from the remaining T&G cedar that we used to build the floor of the tub.

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!

The final fill!
The final fill!

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!

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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!

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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.

Soaking in our wood fired hot tub.
This is a view I don’t think we will ever get sick of. There are many a sunset to be enjoyed soaking in our hot tub!

We sat in the tub and admired everything we’ve done on this property. We looked at the deck that we built from trees we cut down on our property and milled into lumber with our Alaskan chainsaw mill.

Everything you see here represents over nine months of hard work. It seems like A LOT and a little at the same time.
Everything you see here represents over nine months of hard work. It seems like A LOT and a little at the same time.

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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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

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Comments

  1. Brandon Boots says

    Congrats!!! I love following along, and I feel a sense of pride for you every small milestone you cross. Best wishes and keep up the good work!

  2. Thomas Duchesneau says

    Very glad it worked for you. You have learned a skill which will come in handy for the futuer; for stock tanks, silos, et al.

  3. Elizabeth Fuerst says

    I can understand your rationale in wanting to build confidence, skills and knowledge of carpentry before undertaking your forever house. Your lovely cedar hot tub looks professionally done and very inviting. It will be the go-to spot after a hard day working on your very own property. Congratulations on sticking with it. Never give up.

    • says

      For the deck? I guess we had plans for the individual chairs so that’s what we did! It also gives more versatility for seating arrangements I suppose :-)

      • Eric says

        Yes, for the deck. I say that because personally I would want to be able to snuggle with my sweety while enjoying the view and some food/drink.

  4. Mark says

    Very well done and congratulations! Having built an earth oven and a fancy shmancy chicken coop/run, I can certainly appreciate all the planning, hard work, wrong measurements, having to redo things, and the pure physical ache that goes with it all. On the tail end, I can also appreciate the spoils: freshly baked pizza, bread, soups, roasted chicken (not my own) and vegetables and dessert, along with fresh eggs every day and “chicken television”. For you both, you get the hot soak with a killer view, and best of all, each other’s company, knowing you did it together. Again, very well done and well deserved. I look forward to seeing more of your journey, and thank you for sharing it.

    • says

      Mmm… freshly baked pizza soups and chicken sounds amazing! We look forward to doing some of those projects as well but later in the future. Yes, many projects big or small take a lot of planning and come with a lot of hard work. Some may think it’s just an earth oven, but I imagine even that can get complex and time-consuming – something very few understand. In the end, yes, it’s nice to see the benefits of such efforts!!

  5. Bob L. says

    Congrats, on your excellent hot tub. I think it is so amazing that you guys are starting to do exactly what I started studying to do 7 years ago. I am just about ready to get a piece of land, build my bunker-house-barn, my chicken coops, rabbit coops, my solar panels out of my portable sawmills wood. Also I plan on large gardens, fruit and veggies totally off the grid. Composting toilets, making candles, soap, lotions, oils, canned goods, stews and sauces, and repair small engines on the side, what side??? Thanks for all your info and encouragement. Bob

  6. Karen S. Mergner says

    You have accomplished your heart’s desire because the two of you made commitment long before you started your epic journey; you planned and foresaw what time and resources you would need and worked together to make decisions to make sacrifices for the greater good. You trusted in your love for each other; and your determination to keep on is truly a credit to you and your families. Intelligent Design in the working out…. God bless you and keep you.

  7. says

    Nice setup! I also want to build a wood fired hot tub, but I have a question… Will you refill the tub with new water each time or are you going to let the same water and add products and a small pump so water moves?

    • says

      Great question! We will see how long we can use the same water. Today we added some peroxide to see what it does (water was a little murky) and right now, we’re testing out a pump / filter combo that if it works, we’ll hook up a small solar panel to run it. Hopefully the combo should stretch the same water for a while but for how long, I’m not sure :-/ Also, a cover should help keep down on the dirt and grime which we hope to build soon.

      • Melanie says

        Please keep us up to date on how you will maintain the water and what works as we are very interested in the maintenance part. Thanks!

  8. John and Jane says

    We love watching your progress. Your hot tub and deck looks great. You both did alot of thinking to plan what to start with first! Brilliant…..That hot tub and deck was a tricky job but will refresh you both and give
    you inspiration to continue on….!
    We have the beautiful pastureland acreage 14.1, in South Georgia, we have an old 24×32 foot
    homestead….that needs a new roof, it has no cellar, so has natural air flow under it..has no heat
    no a/c…no water…we are also, because of your water issues are reconsidering using large water
    containers. We survived for two weeks and did many projects….in 97 degree heat because of
    the fact that a large beautiful Magnolia tree acts like a canopy around our place, a huge oak tree
    also shades most of the southwest side, we have a large covered front porch, a large open back
    porch,….and a nice sized new firepit that we built to burn yard debris……and the real fun thing we
    had was a double hammock we hung under the magnolia tree…so we could hear and see the birds, the sun, the sky, hear the cows and the train in the far background .

  9. says

    I find your prioritizing of project fascinating, and look forward to follow your adventures the next few years. Good Luck! Any idea why you are going to start the house and how many square foot you are considering.

    • says

      Hey Jana! I assume you meant to ask when we’re going to start the house…. it’s going to be a 24×36 floor plan with a garage on the bottom and an apartment on the top. In a way we have started as in we spend A LOT of time planning, but we’ll probably start excavator work later this summer, and we may or may not get to the concrete work for the foundation. It depends on our bandwidth and even funds available. It is nice though that we have a roof over our head (a pretty comfy one at that) so it takes the pressure off of the project which will make it go more smooth!

      • says

        Oops, sorry for the spelling error, and thanks for being a mind reader!

        Can I assume the garage/apartment will be a separate unit from the house. I am excited to see how you handle the two story construction. Are you hoping to have the garage/apartment closed in by winter?

        • says

          The garage/apartment will be separate from the house. We don’t imagine that we’ll build a house for many years… why would we need to? 800+ square feet for the two of us is plenty, and we should have plenty of time before our family is large enough that 800 square feet is not tolerable. We don’t aim to have the barndominium (garage/apartment/barn) closed in by winter. That was the original plan but now we see that it’s not a reasonable goal. If it happens then great, but we have too much on our plate at the moment to manage such a project and we need to let our bank accounts recover for a couple of months!

  10. joel says

    just found your, you tube videos today.
    What area of the Northwest are you living in?
    We are in Tri Cities.
    My wife and I are retired , we will follow as you stay on the path to fulfill a beautiful future.
    Sincerely, Barker’s

  11. Sid Frantz says

    Great job on a beautiful tub. We opted for a commercial tub (we are on the grid). I’m wondering how you will handle winter use. In Minnesota, it seemed impractical to have a wood-fired tub in the winter. If it gets drained after each use, that’s a lot of water at the end of the year.

    • says

      We aren’t sure on the practicality of this tub over winter. I imagine Minnesota gets much colder than where we are at, but our big concern is that of freezing. We do think we will use it frequently and that if the temperatures will be extremely low for a prolonged period of time (rare) then we can keep it heated enough to keep from freezing, or we could try to install a propane system on it to keep the temp above freezing, or we could build a small structure around it, but those are the ideas. We won’t engage in a fill/drain cycle as drying out wood tubs frequently isn’t ideal. Well be sure to update with what we find works or doesn’t!

  12. Dustin Horn says

    This project is Awesome! and I am living Vicariously through your Journey.

    Idea: Free Standing Coat Rack from tree limbs to hang some nice Hvy Robes on?
    Candle holders from same wood mounted to railings?
    **I suck at Romance per my wife; but I try hard.

    You provided an answer to my question I had, and did not even know it. Now I know how much space the internal stove would take up. I think I will go Chofu (http://www.islandhottub.com/woodhtr.html)

    You can make a “cheap” cover out of 2″ Blue Foam Board, and use same T&G boards on top to match. I have picture, but unable to post here.

    Not to kill the buzz but did you do the calcs? Pi(R)^2*H * 8.35lbs (Area x Density) to know how much weight you have on that portion of deck. Don’t forget to add the “live weight” of up to 4 bathers. You might be fine, but if not you could maybe sister a joist. I know Engineers are annoying, but safety is essential.

  13. dan rapson says

    One word to remember on the timber framing-Splines. I have a brother in law who wants to finally build a TF home in the mountains west of Denver. It is a great way to build, and also a very energy efficient process.

    Let me know if there is any way I can be of help to you two….

    bee well;peace….dan

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