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Thread: Wood Fired Hot Tubs

  1. #1
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    Talking Wood Fired Hot Tubs

    I'm putting this in cabins and remote living, because you can be off the grid to use one of these. If the Mods want to move it to general discussion, that's fine with me. Whatever works best.

    I was wondering if any of you here had any experience with wood fired hot tubs? They obviously take longer to get up to temp, but you don't have to worry about using electricity at an alarming rate.

    Here's a link to a company that sells them. Any comments, questions, good, bad, and maybe if anybody knows if there is a dealer for wood fired hot tubs in Alaska? Anyone have any experience with one of these? Any info is appreciated, thanks.

    http://snorkel.com/index.php
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    Here's a Haines, Alaska based manufacturer of what you seek.

    http://www.woodentubs.com/

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for the link Austin, I'll check it out.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


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    You bet...happy soaking!

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    Default One awesome site!

    Austin, that is a link to one awesome site! I had been contemplating on installing a deeper than normal bath tub at my remote home, after using an ofuro in Japan while studying there. Talk about relaxing, man-o-man... SeaOtters ware is the real deal, thanks.

    Gord
    "He was a man of no patience, you could see it in him. That was a notch against him. In the wild country, a body needs patience".

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    I like the fact that the heater is outside the tub in that link that you posted Austin. In the snorkel models, it is inside the tub, which obviously would necessitate a bigger hot tub to reap the same benefits. The prices look like they are actually a little less expensive than the Snorkel models as well.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

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    I noticed the outside burner as well...I like that from the room standpoint and it may be easier to load wood into. I'm not sure if it would be more susceptible to freezing damage during non-use periods? Perhaps there is a drain plug for the stove that doesn't drain the entire tub?

  8. #8

    Default wood fired hot tub

    Had one for 16 yrs, what do you want to know about them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitewater View Post
    Had one for 16 yrs, what do you want to know about them?

    How long does it take to get the tub up to temperature during the winter?

    Once you've got it warmed up, do you use an insulating blanket and cover, or do you drain it after every use(during the winter)?

    What brand and what company did you get it from?

    Any advantages or problems you've encountered.

    Thanks for any info.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

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  10. #10

    Default Wood fired hot tub

    Heat gain is about 10 F / hour, depends on air temp, dryness of fuel, and size of tub. If you split the wood it heats faster, ditto emptying ash built up on the bottom.

    Cover is closed cell white foam, salvaged from old gym mats. Covers get waterlogged after time. Over the cover goes a blue tarp.

    No, we don't drain every night as we use it most nights. If you live near some construction, you can fire it with scraps, save your stove wood for serious heat indoors.

    Bought from Snorkel Stove factory direct, got the plain version with black steel bands, no benches, etc. If I was going to do it again, would buy a smaller one, takes less wood to heat and warms up faster.

    Down side: if you're not home for a spell it'll freeze, also ash and soot fall in when the wind is shifty. Maintanence is easy but regular: keep it skimmed of pine needles, leaves and twigs, empty ashes, pour in a cup of bleach every 4-5 days. Keep the water level over the top of the soft aluminum stove so it doesn't melt.

    If it rains keep the inside of the stove dry, ash and water makes lye that corrodes aluminum and iron. If you can put it inside a workshop or garage with your truck or 4 wheelers, it'll keep all pretty warm and heat up faster.

    Hope this helps, anything else, just ask.

    Whitewater

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    Thumbs up Good info

    Thanks for the information whitewater, there's a lot of good information there that I can use. I was planning on buying a smaller version for specifically that reason, shorter heating times.

    A cup of bleach every 4-5 days huh? You don't add chlorine at all, or have a filter system? I'm assuming if you're doing it that way(which sounds good to me), you periodically drain the water to keep it clean?

    Also, I've heard that the heating area on the Snorkel's, takes up about 1/3 of the hot tub. Any thoughts on that compared to the tubs that Austin posted a link to, with the heater outside the tub?
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


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    Mine is a 5x3 with the Scuba Stove from the Snorkel guys. In summer we leave the water in it and allow 3-4 hours to heat it. Winter at near 0* temps and using fresh 36* well water it takes 5-6 hours to get the tub to 105*. Figure an hour less at 30*. In winter we fill it, heat it, use it, and drain it the next day. We leave 1" of water in it and let it freeze, which keeps the cedar seasoned. If you let the tub dry out it'll leak badly until the wood soaks up some water and swells again. I don't use benches because freeze/thaw would tear them up. The stove and stove fence are about 2-3" above the bottom and out of the water for the 1" winter freeze. Cheap plastic milk crates work great for seats, but we don't even use those anymore.

    To maximize the heat output you need to empty ashes before lighting a new fire. A chimney damper is a must. I use flexible 1/2" foam as a floating cover and add a tarp when the tub isn't being used. The stove takes much less than 1/3 of the tub. My 5x3 easily fits 4 adults. 5 if you want to get touchy feely with each other's feet. If you leave the water in it chlorine is a really good idea. We don't bother with chlorine in fresh water in the winter. There is no filter system.

    When mine wears out I'll buy another one of the exact same thing.

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    Thanks Mr. Pid, I guess I'm off to do a little more research.

    Do you remember the shipping costs for the tub to get it here?
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    No idea, but mine was shipped several years ago, long before 30% fuel surcharges!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    No idea, but mine was shipped several years ago, long before 30% fuel surcharges!
    I hear ya there! I just talked to a guy in the lower 48 today about getting a semi load shipment up here, and he said they are charging $2.20/mile at this point. Needless to say, I try to buy as much as I can here in Alaska if it's available, but I just wanted to get an idea of what they were charging now.
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    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

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    CHOFU HOT TUB HEATER PRICE REDUCED!!
    Stainless Steel, Wood Fired
    Includes Connecting Fittings For Tank
    1 year warranty
    Description

    This Chofu model is a precision built wood-burning water heater designed specifically for hot tubs. It circulates water using the principal of thermosiphon (the pumping action created by rising hot water), eliminating the need for a circulating pump or electricity. This unique feature opens up a whole new range of possibilities for alternative hot tubs. Now you can have a basic soaking tub without pumps, chemicals, or high maintenance. With the Chofu heater you can retrofit an existing tub or put together a low-cost soaking tub, using a wooden tub or stock tank.

    The stove body of the Chofu is made with high quality stainless steel, grade (316), so it can be used outside, without worry. And since the firebox is also made of stainless steel, it will withstand years of service without danger of burning-out. The smoke outlet on the Chofu features a unique vented collar that provides secondary combustion of unburned gases, for reducing smoke emissions and chimney sparks.

    The Chofu utilizes a sophisticated heat exchange design for efficient water heating. The stainless steel stove body surrounding the firebox is a double-walled water-jacket with a 1-inch space between, making the entire firebox (except the front) a heat-transferring surface. Additional heat transfer takes place in a water-filled baffle plate that runs horizontally through the firebox. The baffle deflects the path of the fire, so it gives up more heat into the water jacket before going up the chimney.



    Installation
    The Chofu will connect to any tub using accessories provided (see connection kit): flexible neoprene tubes, stainless steel pipes, and thru-wall tub ports. (Thickness of the tub wall must be specified to determine the length of thru-wall ports.)
    Installation requires these four basic steps:
    (1) Preparing a brick or cement foundation next to the hot tub to receive the Chofu heater.
    (2) Cutting 1 7/8-inch holes in the side of the tub wall for thru-wall ports.
    (3) Installing pipes to connect heater and tub.
    (4) Installing the stove pipe, (8 feet recommended)


    Operation
    The Chofu operates like a conventional wood stove, achieving its fastest heating rate from dry hardwoods. It uses 17-inch wood with an 18-inch x 14-inch x 14-inch firebox. The most efficient heating comes from using 17-inch x 1 1/2-inch x 1 1/2-inch wood, loaded at 45 min. intervals.

    The Chofu has a high and low speed draft control to regulate the heating rate. It operates with the draft wide open for fast heating, and closed down to maintain temperature once the water is hot.



    Features
    • High grade stainless steel stove body
    • 1/8-inch steel stove front
    • Heavy cast iron door and grates
    • Hot Tub Connection kit (see photo)
    • Generous size firebox, 18"L x 14"W x 10"H
    • Vented smoke-outlet for secondary combustion.
    • 3/4-inch drain for freeze protection.
    • An ash drawer for easy removal of ashes.
    • A long handled ash rake


    Specifications
    • Dimensions: 16" wide x 23" long x 18" high
    • Weight: 59-lbs.
    • Stove body: Grade 316 stainless steel, inner wall 20-gauge, outer wall 22-gauge
    • Stove Front: 1/8-inch steel
    • Firebox door and grates: cast iron
    • Firebox dimensions: 18"L x 14"W x 10"H
    • Heat exchange surface area: 9 sq. ft.
    • Smoke outlet: 4 5/8-inch (reduced to 4-inch)
    • Circulating pipes: 1 3/4-inch O.D.
    • Drain: 3/4-inch I.D.

    Heating Rate Information
    Although the heating rate is variable depending on dryness of wood, frequency of loading, etc., the average heat output of the Chofu CHS is 32,000 BTU’s. A 200-gallon tub can be heated at approx. 20ºF per hour.

    Note: The heat output of the Chofu increases after an initial 45-min. warm-up period that heats the stove body and establishes a bed of coals.
    Heating Schedule
    55ºF to 105ºF
    Gallons
    Time
    100
    1 1/2 hours
    200
    2 1/2 hours
    300
    3 1/2 hours
    400
    4 1/2 hours

    Not for pressurized water, 10 psi maximum water jacket. 4" x 2' sections of Stainless steel stove pipe and a finishing cap are also available. A minimum of 8' of the 4" stove pipe is required to create sufficient draw and firebox heating. The cap will make the pipe stack a bit top heavy and therefore requires some stack support. Ideally you would utilize 5 sections of pipe with the cap for proper draw but 4 sections will work. The cap is a very good idea in any area where a fire danger may exist.
    A-CHOFU: $650

    This is right out of Backwoods Solars Spring 07 book:


    Worth considering by those who prefer to heat with wood. A real neat unit I think.

    Gord
    "He was a man of no patience, you could see it in him. That was a notch against him. In the wild country, a body needs patience".

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    Thanks for the link Gord. Some good stuff there as well.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Thomas Jefferson

  18. #18

    Default follow up to wood fired hot tub

    you wrote: "A cup of bleach every 4-5 days huh? You don't add chlorine at all, or have a filter system? I'm assuming if you're doing it that way(which sounds good to me), you periodically drain the water to keep it clean?"

    There's enough free chlorine in bleach to kill germs, algae and keep the tub smelling good. The downside to bleach is that the HTH ( high test hypochlorite) releases it's chlorine in about a half hour, so there's not as much long term benefit like you'd get with a floating chlorinator that takes the white tablets that release bromine over a longer time. But bleach is cheaper.

    The tub cover will start to get green in maybe a week with no chlorine, that's the signal to add bleach.

    No filter system, we just drain and refill. We drain it maybe every 6 weeks or so. The drain is closed with a rubber stopper, just pull it and drain w/ a hose that runs down hill.

    On the 6 ft diameter the stove and fence take up maybe 15-20 % of the total area. Not a problem. There used to be two stove options, I got the bigger one. No experience with smaller tubs and smaller stoves, sorry.

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for the info whitewater, I'll keep that in mind.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Thomas Jefferson

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    I have a friend who built one from plans he found on the net. I'll have to see if I can find the link. His uses a snorkel type stove that was built in Anchorage. Building the tub was an interesting project. He figured out the angles needed for the circumference and ripped all his own 2x4s and even bent the all thread used to band the tub. He uses it at his cabin in Big lake and loves it.
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