Wood-fired hot tub owners, lend me your ears…
January 12, 2012 2:06 AM   Subscribe

I live in Europe (specifically Luxembourg) and would like to buy a 4-person tub, but would be interested in hearing more on what it’s like to own and run one of these things. I’m thinking I’d fire it up it once or twice a week in the winter, so I can soak after mountain biking and chill with the family (we've 3 little boys). Can you tell me about water usage, wood usage, heating time, draining, lighting, cleaning, icing up and over-heating, smoke, paddles, lids and covers, seats and steps, concrete bases, summer time plunge pool usage, whether your family and friends enjoy using it, safety, getting from house to tub, any other things I need to think about. How often do you use yours and for how long do you generally soak? Are you in general pleased with it? Thanks This previous question answers some of my own, but I'm specifically looking at simple wood fired tub usage.
posted by guy72277 to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, another MeFite in Luxembourg? You could try asking my neighbour.
posted by stereo at 5:59 AM on January 12, 2012

You should be aware that hot soaking tubs can be dangerous for young children. Because of their much smaller body mass than adults their core body temp can become dangerously elevated very quickly. They cannot soak for nearly as long as you can, therefore your own bodily perception of comfort and safety will not give you reliable feedback on how much is too much for them.
posted by txmon at 8:01 AM on January 12, 2012

We have a wood-fired hot tub. It takes minimally 3 hours to heat (in the summer), and in the winter it can be more like 5-7 hours starting from cold, cold stream water (which is what we use to fill our tub). We use ours less than we'd like to because heating it is such a huge time commitment (we have to be around to stoke the fire / add wood every half hour or so).

We have one of these attached to a 300-gallon stock tank. It's enclosed to make a dry sauna.

We drain between uses when it hasn't been used for a while, and use white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and tea tree oil to clean the empty tub. When we are using it frequently, we don't drain and use a high-concentration peroxide (available at spa supply stores) to "shock" the water between uses (and then drain every 3-4 uses depending on how much sediment is in the tub).

We use an oar to stir the tub when heating, because all the hot stays on top if you don't. Definitely stir before entry, otherwise water displacement will send all the nice hot water over the side when people get in (unless it's over-hot in which case this is useful). Just run more cold water into the tub to cool it down.

We have kids in our tub sometimes, just make sure it's more like 100F (37.7C) -- adults generally like it more like 110F (43.3C) or even hotter. I also used the tub a lot when I was pregnant because it felt sooo good. I would get in before it was too hot, and then my husband would get in and I would get out when it got to be around 107F (41C) or so.

We have paving stones around the tub to walk on, and little vats of water to rinse feet before getting in.

We have a policy that everyone showers before getting in the tub. No dirty butts in the tub!!

Our tub is roofed with open sides (just support beams) and we have hooks attached to the beams to hold towels, robes, clothes. We shower inside the house and then don flip flops and towels/robes to get to the tub. In the winter it's great to walk still wet from your shower because you get very cold and the tub feels soooo good after you're already cold. We also have a cold dunk tank (which is just a cast-iron bathtub) for cold-dunking when you get too hot -- it feels great to cycle cold/hot/cold/hot.

We have little shelves around our tub to hold candles and beverages. Generally the tub is only lit by candles which makes it very serene.

I could add more but this is getting long, feel free to memail me if you want more info!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:57 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hey rabbitrabbit, thanks so much for the comprehensive post (haven't worked out how to memail yet), but you have answered most of my questions anyway. I had never thought of the stock tank/chofu heater combo - could really reduce the overall budget because I was thinking of getting a cedar tub, which looks great, but is a major investment.

Stream water would be ideal, but we are far from any rivers. I might try to incorporate a large rainwater storage tank in our coming building plans as I don't want to have to use tap water. I'll have to look into this shock water treatment too - namely how long the water can stay in the tub (if I'm trying to conserve water) and also if it's safe to drain it into a nearby field.

5/7 hours heating for cold cold water was more than I imagined, but still fits with my mountain biking-then-soaking plans (showering between - like the no dirty butts rule).

Vats of water for feet and the cold-dunking tank sound like a great idea.

You've really inspired me to go forward on this. First step - source a Chofu and a stock tank.

I may take you up on the offer of memailing in the future when I have more questions.
posted by guy72277 at 12:09 PM on January 15, 2012

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