Cold Weather Testing: How to Winterize Your Wood Fired Hot Tub
We may not live in igloos, but we do know a thing or two about cold weather. Canadian winters aren't for the faint of heart, and if there's one thing we do well - it's making the most out of very, very cold weather. We love the apres ski life so much, 'winter' is literally our daughters middle name.
AlumiTubs aren't your fair weather friend. Designed with three layers of insulation and a submerged firebox, our wood fired hot tubs are built for all season, all terrain performance - even in the literal freezing cold. We're often asked, "will your wood burning hot tub work in Calgary/Winnipeg/the Northwest Territories/Ottawa/New York/The Catskills (insert other cold place) winters"? The answer is yes. No matter how cold it is where you live, an AlumiTub will achieve 104+ degrees, or whatever your perfect soaking temperature is, just like an electric hot tub would. But unlike electric hot tubs, there's no button to set it and forget it.
To create your winter wonderland with an AlumiTub, we've put together our top tips and tricks from customers across the continent, including way up in the North Pole. Unlike traditional cedar hot tubs, AlumiTubs are triple insulated to perform all winter long. Our unique marine grade aluminum hot tub has unparalleled heat retention, making it not only easier to heat up, but allowing it to hold its heat for days at a time with just an armful of wood a day.
Unlike electric hot tub temperature controls, AlumiTubs wood fired hot tubs have three different variables to control the heat.
The first is the temperature of the water you're using to fill your hot tub with.
The colder it is, the longer it will take to heat. While there's nothing you can do about the temperature of the water in a river, lake or ocean you're sourcing it from, there is a trick we love. If your house is set up with an efficient heating system like on demand heat, you can set the temperature of your exterior hose water to enjoy hot water right from the tap. This can either be used as is, or to expedite your wood fired heat time if you want a hybrid solution. We love this option in a pinch, especially when you haven't worked up the courage to tend to tend to the fire in sub zero conditions, or you're coming back from a day of ice fishing or skiing. But for many of our customers who are off-grid, this one isn't an option, and you'll have to heat your tub the old fashioned way (which is kind of the whole vI've).
The second variable is the temperature outside.
If it's minus ten, twenty or colder, you'll want to spend as little time outside tending to the barrel hot tub as possible. You can help expedite your wood fired hot tubs heat time by placing insulation beneath the hot tub, wrapping it around the foundation of the tub before placing the cedar cladding around it, and keeping the rigid insulation below the cedar lid while it's heating and between uses. The combination of these steps can significantly improve the heat time and reduce the amount of wood required to keep it hot all weekend long.
The third variable is the the quality of wood you're using to light the fire with.
Dry wood is the most important factor! As anyone who has ever sat around a campfire knows, the dryer the wood the less smoke and the more efficiently the fire will heat. Each of these factors will have an impact on the time it takes to heat to hot tubbing temperature, and more wood will be required to hold the heat in freezing temperatures than in the warmer months - so if you're reading this in the summer, dry that wood and stack it high so you can enjoy your wood fired hot tub when your body needs warming the most.
We build our wood fired hot tubs to last a lifetime, handbuilding each one with precision and high quality enduring materials made to stand the test of time.
We want your AlumiTub to weather the decades with grace, but there's two simple things customers need to do to ensure it lives up to its potential. The first is to always fill the tub with water before lighting the fire. This is a step you'll want everyone at your property to know as failing to do so will result in damage to your tub, and possibly yourselves and your property. And the second cardinal rule is that it's never left to freeze. Those are the only two things that can go wrong, and they're both entirely preventable with simple, low-maintenance care.
Keeping your AlumiTub from freezing is intentionally easy.
We designed it to ensure winters don't age your wood fired hot tub like it does with cedar hot tubs. With traditional cedar barrel hot tubs, the winter months lead to leaks and rot because it can't be easily kept dry, meaning water left in the cracks of the wood will cause it to expand and retract. This process is what causes regular wood burning hot tubs to have a shorter lifespan. With our marine grade aluminum hot tub, it's easy to keep dry by draining and wiping it. You can roll it on it's side or cover the tub completely by removing the chimney and using the firebox plate and cedar lid to keep all components of the tub covered.
If your AlumiTub uses a drain kit, open the drain valve to ensure no standing water is left in the PVC, as this will cause it to crack. If your AlumiTub drainage is set up with a snap drain instead of the drain kit, you won't need to worry about it freezing. If your property is on the grid and you have electricity and there's no risk of power loss, you can also use a water de-icer or trough heater to keep the water above freezing temperature. This is a great option if you don't want to drain it because water is limited at your property and you'll be using it through the colder months. If you will be using it regularly all winter long, you likely won't need to drain the water or use a de-icer because the water will be kept above freezing temperature simply by keeping it in use. Just be sure to keep the fire going strong enough so that the water is kept above freezing temperature.
Check out our customer Kevin MacLean's video below to see how he uses his AlumiTub wood burning hot tub in extreme winter conditions:
Ryay Fowler also has some great tricks:
"I ordered a tub from you five years ago with the idea of turning this feed shed into a hot tub shack. 8track player, velvet paintings, movies n darts. It worked out better than I thought. I live in northern BC and wanted to use it year around. And do!. Even works at -40° 😀"
"I bought our hot tub from Alumi-Tubs about 5 years ago for the guest house I rent out on airbnb. It has worked great. It’s easy to clean for new guests, and I can also leave it empty in winter without damaging it like a wooden hot tub. I leave a little booklet in the house that explains how it works and sometimes I show them. They love it!" - Leo Downey, Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch & Cabins
Bralorne Adventure Lodge has a ton of great videos of AlumiTubs in the winter months too.
Check out our customer winter gallery to see AlumiTub wood burning hot tubs in their winter habitats and get inspired on how to create your winter wonderland with our wood fired hot tub.
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