The Ultimate Guide to Wood Fired Hot Tubs

Ultimate Guide to Wood Fired Hot Tubs

What is a wood fired hot tub?

Wood fired hot tubs are what they sound like: hot tubs powered by wood. They’re for soaking in just as you would with any other hot tub, but there’s no electricity required. They can be used off-grid where electricity is unavailable, making them a perfect fit for cabins, cottages and recreational properties. They can also be used residentially where owners may prefer the look, experience, function, economic benefits, chemical-free natural soak, or sustainability of a wood fired hot tub that electric tubs just don’t offer. Some wood fired hot tubs can even be dual-fuelled with propane, gas, solar or electricity, making them compatible with any setting - including residential neighbourhoods and short term accommodations. 

wood fired hot tub on the ocean

Wood fired hot tubs vs. electric spas

While they certainly have their place, electric hot tubs provide a completely different experience than wood fired hot tubs. Some of their drawbacks include professional installation, maintenance and repairs, expensive heating bills due to the fact that they’re being powered even when not in use, the requirement of chemical water treatments, they have a limited lifespan, and ultimately, are a tech-dependent product that require electricity to operate. In contrast, wood fire hot tubs create a natural experience which rely only on earth's elements. With just the fire crackling, there’s no humming jets or filters to interfere with the sound of birds chirping, trees rusting or waves crashing. With wood fired hot tubs, you can fill them from your natural water source - whether it be the lake, river, a well, or even the ocean (if it’s an AlumiTub). 

Unlike electric hot tubs, wood burning hot tubs are often constructed from natural materials that can be found in nature - like cedar or redwood, have no mechanical parts to contend with (and therefore don’t generally require repairs), and are ultimately gentler on the earth thanks to both what they’re built with as well as how they’re heated, consuming renewable energy only when they’re in use. AlumiTubs are 100% recyclable and built with sustainably and locally sourced woodBeyond the connection to nature, most wood fired hot tubs don’t require professional installation, are lightweight enough to be supported by most surfaces, and can be assembled or moved into place without machinery. And they’re far more economical - both in terms of their upfront cost and ongoing operational costs. They are in their very essence, a natural way to soak under the stars. 

wood fired hot tub under the stars

If your cabin, cottage, lake house, chalet or country home is off-grid, wood fired hot tubs are the most practical solution, but this isn’t to say they’re the only one. There are alternative and dual heating options that include gas, propane, and solar, all of which provide different experiences and features for each property's unique requirements, the benefits of each we dive into below. 

To operate a wood fired hot tub, you need to chop the wood, stoke the flames, circulate the water with a paddle to evenly distribute the heat, and put logs in the fire to maintain the heat. If that all sounds too labor intensive for your lifestyle, then a wood fired hot tub isn’t for you. Similarly, if bells & whistles like underwater speakers, lights, and jets are your thing - don’t get a wood fired hot tub. If connecting with nature IS your thing, and you’re up for the task of embracing the ritual of heating a wood fired hot tub, it’ll offer you an experience unlike any other. Think fast food vs. gourmet, coffee pods vs. french presses, a can of generic beer vs. a craft pint in a chilled glass. Fast food and coffee pods have their place in our busy lives, but taking the time to pour over your experience with intention will result in a deeper, richer and more luxurious experience that’s worth the time it takes to prepare. For many of us, it’s the ritual of putting our heart into what we enjoy most, whether a special meal, fancy cocktail, gourmet coffee drink, or pared down wood fired hot tub soak, we know for certain that fast doesn’t always mean better, and sometimes the art of slowing down is exactly what we need most. Wood fired hot tubs aren’t about instant gratification, and in our view - that’s the whole point. They allow us to slow down and be still for a moment, requiring a ritualistic labor of love to fill and heat the water to whatever temperature you choose to soak in. 

alumitubs wood fired hot tub on the ocean at spirit of the west

How to heat a wood fired hot tub 

Operating a wood fired hot tub is simple, but it takes practice to get the temperature exactly where you like it. Similar to lighting a fire, you’ll need matches, kindling, paper, some bigger pieces of wood, and of course, a source of water and a hose to fill it with. 

Using a hose, fill your wood burning hot tub with water. AlumiTubs are unique in that they can be filled with salt water directly from the ocean. Water isn’t always abundant at off-grid properties and we don't want to see it go to waste, so we recommend filling your tub from a natural water source if you have access to a lake, ocean or stream. You can pump it from the lake or ocean, fill it with a garden hose, and re-use the water for the garden when you're done with it or drain it back into the ocean or lake (so long as you aren't using chemical water treatments). Always fill the hot tub with water before lighting the fire, or you risk the firebox combusting, which can cause property damage, bodily injury, and a broken hot tub. 

Once the tub is full of water, build a fire in the firebox by placing crumpled paper in the bottom of the stove, placing kindling on top, then adding small, dry logs. Note that the wood should be very dry! If you’re a true woman of the woods, you already know how important dry wood is to achieve a roaring fire, but many city folk tend to get this step wrong and wonder why their water is taking longer to heat than expected. Light the paper and leave the stove lid open to allow airflow. A draft will help establish the fire. Once the fire is established, add larger pieces of firewood, controlling the fire with the lid which acts as a dapper controlling the air intake. Check the temperature of the water and once it reaches 10 degrees within your desired hot tubbing temperature (usually 101-104), stop adding wood, put the firebox lid on, and allow the temperature to rise on its own. Some wood fired hot tubs stoves are more efficient than others, requiring more or less wood to establish and maintain the fire. AlumiTubs don’t face a challenge of getting hot, but rather, of becoming too hot, so stop adding wood before it reaches your desired hot tubbing temperature to avoid overheating the tub. If it does overheat, add cold water with a hose and stir the water with a paddle to evenly distribute. Because the stove is submerged in the water, this “snorkel” style stove heats very effectively and is more energy efficient to their external stove counterparts. We’ll dive into the pros and cons of internal vs. external fireboxes below.

Maintain the fire to keep the water at your desired temperature. Wood fired hot tubs are all designed differently, with some offering more heat efficiency than others. AlumiTubs outdoor hot tubs are designed to offer superior heat retention and will maintain their temperature throughout the day with just an armful of wood, and will drop just 2-3 degrees overnight. AlumiTubs are built with 3 layers of heat retention, and intentionally designed with an internal wood stove for optimal heat properties and safety. Put the cover on overnight when you go to bed and it will stay within 2-3 degrees. Put a log on in the morning while you drink your coffee, and by the time you're finished eating your avocado toast, it'll be back up to hot tubbing temperature and ready to enjoy for the day.

heating a wood fired hot tub

How long does it take to heat a wood fired hot tub?

Wood fired hot tubs take a few hours to heat. It’s worth noting that the initial heat is different from the time it takes to heat back up after it’s already been heated. Factors that affect the initial heat time include: the temperature of the water being used to soak in, the temperature outside, the quality of the firewood being used for the fire, the type of firebox / wood stove the hot tub is designed with, whether there’s insulation around the tub, the gallons of water held by the size of tub, if lids are being placed on top of the water while it heats, whether you stir the tub with a paddle or filter to circulate the water for even heat distribution, and the type of materials the tub is constructed with. Traditional cedar wood burning hot tubs don’t have a lining, meaning there’s no insulation, and therefore the heat loss is higher. Similarly, chofu style fireboxes are less efficient than submerged fireboxes (snorkel style stoves).

Energy efficient hot tubs offer insulation and an internal firebox, and similar to your home, the better insulated the hot tub, the longer the heat will be retained and the more cost effective it is to heat. Compared to other cedar hot tubs, AlumiTubs are cost effective and energy efficient for this reason. It’s important to use a lid on top of your tub when not in use, as it will reduce heat loss from the water's surface. We also recommend placing the insulation provided with your AlumiTub on top of the water, beneath the lid to maximize heat retention overnight.

winter wood fired hot tub

Alternative heating and filtration for wood fired hot tubs

Dual-fuelled hot tubs can also expedite the initial heat time by augmenting the wood fire with propane, gas, solar or electricity, depending on what type of power you have access to. This isn’t a necessary addition to your wood fired hot tub, but there’s some benefits to having the flexibility, such as when you’re out for a hike in the mountains or snowmobiling on a winter's day and want to return to a super hot hot tub, or when you’re in a dry season where fire bans are in full effect. For residential use, you can also set up your hose temperature to 102-04 degrees and fill the tub directly with hot water.

Hybrid / dual -fuelled wood fired hot tubs offer the most flexibility, the quickest heat time, and the simplest operation. While it’s not necessary, it’s a good mid-point solution between wood fired and regular electric spas offering, in our humble opinion, the most user-friendly soak, while preserving the natural elements a wood fired hot tub has to offer. Wood stoves require no mechanical installation, while alternative heating systems do, and are also less economical to operate. But if the utility of a dual-fuel system is appealing to you, there are some simple applications that are still aesthetically pleasing, and can offer functionality and convenience that you and your family may value.  

For property owners with access to electricity, wood fired hot tubs can be made compatible with filtration systems, extending the life of the water and requiring fewer fills, helping conserve water and time spent changing it by using a pump/filter of your choice. Not all tubs offer this option, but it can be nice to have the flexibility to install one should you find you’re using your wood fired hot tub frequently enough to warrant the benefits of filtration. AlumiTubs can be made compatible with both dual heating systems and filtration, just be sure to request it at the time of purchase. By using a filtration system, your wood fired hot tub water can last as long as any other spa / regular electric hot tub. For weekend or occasional use, this isn’t necessary as the water can be maintained chemical free for several days of heavy use at a time. We also recommend this water pre-filter for hot tubbers with hard well water.

wood burning hot tub

How to clean and maintain a wood burning hot tub

Wood fired hot tubs are exceptionally easy to maintain If your wood burning hot tub is being used occasionally, such as weekend use at the cabin or cottage, it can be used chemical free and with very simple maintenance. However, if you intend to use your tub more often, such as daily, you’ll want to consider how you want to keep the water clean. The options are as extensive or minimal as you’d like, ranging from chemical-free hot tubbing, to treated and filtered water solutions. ‘Maintenance’ is a broad subject however, and applies beyond just the time it takes to change or clean the water for safe and enjoyable hot tubbing. Maintenance also applies to keeping your wood burning hot tub in tip top shape, which can be made more complicated with cedar hot tubs as opposed to wood fired hot tubs that are designed with a foundation / lining. Not all wood fired hot tubs are alike, so this subject is more nuanced based on the type of wood fired hot tub you purchase. Wood fired hot tubs with no lining are generally the highest maintenance type. These are essentially wooden hot tubs constructed of redwood or cedar which have many drawbacks that wood fired hot tubs with a liner solve for. 

cleaning a wood fired hot tub

For the purpose of outlining maintenance of wood fired hot tubs, we’ll focus on those with a liner, like AlumiTubs which are designed with a marine grade foundation as the core construction of the tub. Our aluminum design offers a hygienic element so that unlike cedar hot tubs, bacteria and algae can’t accumulate within the cracks of the wood. This makes maintenance simple, allowing users to simply drain, rinse, wipe clean with soap and water using a soft cloth, rinse again and refill. How often this process is required depends on the level of use, whether you’re using salt or fresh water, if you cover your tub with lids between uses, and whether you’re using chemical water treatments or pumps and filtration.

Wood fired hot tubs don’t require chemical water treatments like electric tubs do because they don’t stand with hot water in them for weeks and months at a time. Japanese onsen hot tubbing involves showering before entering the tub and soaking in chemical-free, natural water. Because AlumiTubs are inexpensive to heat and the water can be repurposed into the natural environment it came from, like the ocean or lake, many of our customers opt for Japanese bathing. For those with limited access to water or more frequent use however, chemical water treatments yield a longer water lifespan, extending it for weeks or months at a time.

wood burning hot tub

They do need to be drained and cleaned regularly if you’re not using a filtration system, and they don’t require chemicals to clean. Marine grade aluminum is resistant to algae (that’s why it’s for marine use), and if your wood burning hot tub is used without chemical water treatments, it can be repurposed for irrigation or replenished into the natural environment. If you do use chemical water treatments to extend the life of your water, you can still repurpose it IF you neutralize it first. Neutralizers are very important to ensure you aren’t contaminating the environment. There are also natural water sanitizers like organic silver treatments, salt, peroxide, and ion treatments.

If your tub is for weekend-use, no water treatment is needed. Just empty, rinse, wipe down with soap and water, and refill when you’re ready to use it again. If you’ll use it residentially or daily, you may want to consider using chemical water treatments or salt water from the ocean if you’re lucky enough to have access. This can extend your water for 7-10 days. And if you’re on the grid, setting up a pump in conjunction with chemical water treatments will extend the lifespan of your hot tub water for weeks or months at a time. Check out our videos page for a tutorial on how to clean your AlumiTub.

Internal vs. external wood fired hot tub stoves

Internal wood burning hot tub fireboxes are known as a “snorkel” stove design, while external fireboxes are commonly referred to as a “chofu” stove. The main distinction is that the internal firebox heats the water by sitting in the hot tub itself using convection, while the external firebox is piped from outside the hot tub using a process called “thermal siphoning”. Internal hot tub stoves have faster heating because 100% of the heat generated from the firebox transfers directly into the water, making it more efficient to heat. Internal fireboxes generally take 2-4 hours for initial heat vs. 4+ hours with an external stove. It’s also a safer way to heat your wood burning hot tub because the submerged firebox can’t burn a person and is also partitioned by a wood fence which is used to prevent contact with the chimney, which is very hot and will cause burns; while external fireboxes are extremely hot to touch on any element of the unit, just as a wood stove would be.

With all of the benefits of an internally submerged firebox, you might be wondering why anyone would choose an external one. The main benefit of a chofu/external firebox is that it frees more seating inside the tub, by about 1-2 seats. So depending on how many people you want to be able to accommodate in your wood burning hot tub, this might be a factor for you, but we’d suggest just sizing up to a larger size for the sake of safety and heat efficiency. Some people also prefer the way they can load firewood and stoke the fire in an external unit as opposed to the internal fireboxes which are top loaded. Lastly, external fireboxes rely on piping which can freeze and crack in the winter, whereas internally located fireboxes use convection to heat the water and don’t run the risk of freezing.

How to use your wood burning hot tub in the winter

Not all wood burning hot tubs are made equal, and some designs will function better and endure harsh winters better than others. Cedar tubs which are unlined will take a bigger beating than those that are lined with aluminum, stainless steel, fiberglass, or plastic, and are less effective at powering your tub to 102-04 degree hot tubing temperature than those which are designed to be more heat efficient. AlumiTubs can be enjoyed year round in any temperature. We've had customers use their tubs in -50 degrees and even colder conditions while maintaining hot tubbing temperature. If there's risk of the water freezing and you won't be using your tub, it's important that you drain, wipe dry, remove the chimney and cover the firebox and all other components of the tub. Never let ice form in or around your AlumiTub. Customers with the Standard tub can use a trough heater / water de-icer to prevent ice from forming. Note that this requires electricity and won't work if there's power loss. If the tub will be in regular use, keep the water hot by maintaining the fire in the firebox to keep it from reaching freezing temperature. 

Heating your wood fired hot tub in subzero temperatures is entirely possible, and can be the perfect retreat from a day on the slopes or spent ice fishing. Freezing temperatures will increase the initial heat time and use more wood to maintain the water temperature for all wood fired hot tubs, but the range of time and wood consumed depends on several variables, including how cold the water is, the air outside, whether your tub is insulated, the efficiency of the firebox, and whether you have energy efficient lids to place over the tub when not in use. Wood fired hot tubs with a lining are generally designed to sustain all season use, with the following factors impacting its performance: 

  1. Heat efficiency  - The heat efficiency of your wood fired hot tub affects not just the initial heat time, amount of wood used, and heat retention once it’s up to temperature, but also how hot your wood fired hot tub can get in freezing temperatures. We can’t speak for all wood burning hot tubs, but those like AlumiTubs which are designed with an aluminum foundation can easily maintain hot tubbing temperature in weather as cold as -50 degrees. 
  2. Where water can access the tub - If your wood fired hot tub can be fully covered with lids, and the drain system you installed for your tub can be emptied if it relies on pipes, or the drain plug left open, then there’s nowhere for water to freeze. It’s a good idea to ensure the ground or surface your tub is placed on won’t result in water build up around the tub too.
  3. Drainage - For AlumiTubs, we instruct our customers to drain their hot tub using the Drain Kit we sell, or a sump pump. Drain the water away from the tub to ensure it doesn't freeze around the base of the tub. To prevent your drain kit from freezing and cracking, use a 1" internal plug (snap drain plug) and leave your drain kit open during the cold months. If using a snap drain plug, empty the tub using a sump pump and then pull the plug and leave the Drain Kit valve open until it’s ready to be filled again.

For those in extreme winter temperatures, laying down a base of insulation (about 2") will maximize heat retention. Use the rigid insulation provided with your AlumiTub by placing it on top of the water, beneath the lid when not in use. We also recommend using our Firebox Plate to cover the entire tub, helping retain heat from the water's surface. 

winter wood fire hot tub

How to winterize your wood fired hot tub

Failing to keep your tub from freezing is likely to result in damage and can even result in physical harm the next time you go to use it. Winterizing your wood burning hot tub to prevent freezing can be as simple as wiping the water out before leaving it at the cabin or for extended periods of time where freezing may be a risk. It can also be much more complicated, depending on the tub you have. If water is a commodity at your cabin or cottage, or the lake you source your water to fill the tub with is frozen solid, you can leave your AlumiTub filled so long as you have electricity to power a trough heater (otherwise known as a stock tank heater). It’s a simple solution used by farmers and can also be used in your hot tub to keep the water above freezing temperature. Just be sure to check the volume of water it’s suitable for, as it may not be enough to keep a large tub from developing ice. If your tub won’t be left unattended, and you’d like to use it during the winter, keeping it from freezing can be as simple as heating it by lighting a fire in the firebox and maintaining a low flame just to keep the water above freezing temperature.

winter wood burning hot tub

Assembling your wood burning hot tub

Selecting a location:

The optimal location of your wood fired hot tub will depend on the filled weight of your tub and whether you’ll rely on electricity for filtration. Most wood fired hot tubs can be assembled on any level spot on the ground, a deck, patio, or concrete pad, depending on where the drain is located. The area you allocate for your tub will depend on its size, with most ranging from 4-7ft in diameter. 

Your wood fired hot tub manual will indicate the weight of your tub empty and filled, and you’ll need to be sure that if it’s placed on a structure, that it’s designed to support its filled weight at full seating capacity. A lightweight wood fired hot tub allows you to have more flexibility in its placement, as well as delivery, access, and portability should you want to move it again or take it on the road. 

AlumiTubs weigh just 220 lbs empty (5,000 lbs for the Standard tub holding 450 gallons of water, or 6,500 lbs for the Large tub holding 650 gallons) and can be rolled into place with two sets of hands, can fit through most gates and transported in any standard size pickup truck or trailer towed behind and SUV. As with any wood burning hot tub, you’ll want to be sure you consider the location's distance from flammable objects. The chimney should be at least 10 ft away from any structures as sparks do fly from the chimney and can certainly pose a fire hazard, especially in dry season. 

The size of the tub and its dimensions are worth noting if you’re developing a deck or structure so that you leave enough space around it to load firewood into the firebox, without risk of coming into contact with it when it's hot. When choosing a location, consider how you'll drain water from the tub, what water source you'll be using to fill it, whether you want access to power for a pump, filter or alternative heating method, and where you'll be able to store things like firewood and lids for the tub when not in use. If placing your AlumiTub on pressure treated wood, place rigid insulation beneath the tub to create a barrier between the aluminum and the pressure treated wood or concrete. This will prevent the aluminum from reacting to dissimilar metals found in those materials. You'll also want to do this if placing on crushed gravel to ensure a level surface and avoid denting the tub. The outside dimension of AlumiTubs Standard tub is 71.5 inches and 84 inches for the Large tub. Both tubs are 38 inches deep, which is the dimension you’ll need to know if you’re planning to roll it through a gate, fit it onto a small trailer, or between the wheel wells of your pickup truck. 

wood fired hot tub on lake

How to drain your wood fired hot tub

How you plan to drain your tub is one of the key factors to consider when deciding where to put it. There’s simple solutions to drain your wood fired hot tub, but because each application is different, it’s helpful to plan this step before receiving your tub. We’ll say it again, not all wood fired hot tubs are equal, so it’s worth consulting with the company you’re purchasing from to determine the best drainage solution for your property, especially because if you plan to use it without chemical water treatments or a filtration system, you’ll be emptying it after every few days of use. 

Every AlumiTub is installed with a 1 inch threaded drain port on the base of the tub to allow for a pipe connection, so the water can drain to your desired place. We also offer an optional Drain Kit that stubs out from the side of the tub. Just open the valve to drain in the right direction. Instead of the Drain Kit, you can also use a submersible pump / siphon, or we can add a hose fitting for you to create your own drainage option. We can also customize the placement of the drain for you. Some customers prefer it on the side, to use a kitchen sink drain, or attach a small rope to the drain plug so it's easy to pull out when the tub is full. The Drain Kit allows easy drainage with the use of a valve located on the outside of the tub. It connects to the base of the tub under the firebox allowing for drainage to a convenient location - such as a garden, or back into the lake or ocean it came from (so long as it’s neutralized first if you were using chemical water treatments). To navigate water away from the tub use a 1" hose with a mechanical clamp to secure to the Drain Kit. Depending on your hot tubs location, you may want a different drainage system. If you won't be using the Drain Kit, a 1.25" snap drain plug can be used to plug the tub from the inside and a pump can help drain the water faster. If using a drain kit, a 1" snap drain plug can be used from the inside so the external PVC valve can be left open during freezing conditions.

How to assemble your wood fired hot tub

Cedar wood fired hot tubs can be difficult to assemble without carpentry experience, even when they come in a wood fired hot tub kit. AlumiTubs are a pre-assembled unit with minimal setup. Check out our video tutorial here to see how easy it is. AlumiTub wood fired hot tubs are assembled by placing the tub on a flat surface, wrapping insulation around the outside of the tub, placing the cedar planks beneath 2 ratchet straps holding them in place until you’ve made your way around the tub, and securing the cedar with 3 metal bands. Remove the ratchet straps, pop the chimney in, hang the thermometer around the cedar fence, fill it up and light the fire - it’s quicker than just about anything you can find at Ikea.

wood burning hot tub assembly

Residential vs. off-grid wood fired hot tub use

Wood fired hot tubs are a match made in heaven for off-grid properties, but with their simple, classic cedar aesthetic, economical benefits, non-mechanical and installation-free set up, residential tubbers are often looking to create the natural experience a wood fired hot tub has to offer at their home. It’s important to consider your municipal bylaws before purchasing, as some areas have policy's against wood smoke. In most circumstances due to the submerged nature of the firebox, they’re not considered an open flame, and while most aren't CSA certified making them classified as a household wood stove, they operate in much the same way and can usually be enjoyed in most neighbourhoods. When in doubt, consult with your local fire department as it's not worth risking being unable to use it. Should you face limitations to wood fire use, or simply prefer the more modern offerings life has to offer, you can still have your cake and eat it too. Dual fuel wood fired hot tubs can offer you the best of both worlds, providing solutions to heat your tub with propane, gas, electricity or even solar energy. You can also install a simple water filtration system to extend the cleanliness just as long as you would in an electric hot tub, making it as practical for residential use as it is for cabins and cottages.

Wood burning hot tubs are also in high demand from Airbnb and short term accommodation providers. No wonder why! They can increase the volume of bookings and offer a unique experience that helps hosts earn more per stay. For hosts who don’t want to use chemical water treatments, the tub will need to be emptied and refilled between each booking. If you have a high turnover rate, we recommend installing a simple filtration system, using chemical water treatments like bromine, and even installing a dual fuel heat alternative like propane to simplify the experience for your guests. We receive several requests each year from hosts desperate for help because their guests damaged their hot tub by lighting the fire before their tub was full of water. This results in a warped firebox that renders it unusable for their next booking, and can damage other components of the tub and even cause physical harm. It’s no secret that people don’t always follow instructions, so streamlining the way the tub heats can help mitigate those risks and help hosts avoid interruptions. If you want to keep your wood fired hot tub basic without alternative heating or filtration, just be sure your guests are well aware of the importance of filling it with water before lighting the fire, keep the manual on hand, and help them get started by showing them how to get the fire roaring. Have dry wood for guests to load the firebox with, have them keep the lids on between uses, and show them how to top the fire up with logs now and then to keep it at temperature so they don't have to start from scratch the next day.  

wood fired hot tub

Wood fired hot tub delivery

How you’ll receive your wood fired hot tub is another factor to consider when purchasing. Some are more lightweight than others, and it goes without saying that there’s a clear benefit to choosing a model that doesn’t require a forklift or crane to get it into your yard. For off-grid properties, access can be limited, so it’s important to consider how you’ll get your hot tub to its location. Most companies can solve for this by delivering it curb side to a residential address, or by having you pick it up from a nearby shipping depot, which usually substantially reduces the shipping cost. AlumiTubs weigh 220 lbs and fit in a standard size pick up truck, trailer or boat, and will be forklifted from the depot into the back of your truck or trailer. Here’s a video to see what the process looks like. You can also check out our “AlumiTubs in Transit” gallery to see different modes of transportation to off-grid properties, including by ATV and kayak! 

portable wood fired hot tub

Receiving your AlumiTub is easy. Your tub will be packaged on a pallet with the tub on its side and the seats, stove (firebox), insulation, accessories, and cedar cladding secured on the inside of the tub. If you plan to receive your tub at a depot, you'll need a trailer or a standard size pick up truck with a 6 foot bed and 48 inches between the wheel well. A forklift will load the tub into your truck or trailer for you. Bring 2x 20 ft ratchet straps (or a combination of shorter lengths) to secure the tub once it's been loaded into your vehicle. Once on site, you'll want a second set of hands to help unload and move the tub.

If you’re ordering a US customers ordering a Canadian made wood fired hot tub, you’ll benefit from pricing in Canadian dollars, saving you roughly 30%, as well as by saving the taxes and duty. There’s usually a brokerage fee of $150, and of course, the shipping price will be higher depending on where you’re located, but in most circumstances US customers save a fair bit of money as opposed to purchasing their tub from an American supplier. AlumiTubs ship everywhere throughout the US and Canada and will make arrangements for border crossing and delivery. 

wood fired hot tub

Wood burning hot tub lead times, and why you should wait

There’s a reason why the best wood fired hot tub manufacturers have long lead times for production. We’ll say it one more time - not all wood fired hot tubs are equal! There’s substantial differences in the quality, function, and longevity of wood burning hot tubs, and waiting a while longer to receive yours will be a decision you’ll be glad you made years down the road. Faster isn’t always better, and for companies that prioritize quality craftsmanship and premium materials for their wood fired hot tubs, they don’t have excess stock sitting in a warehouse waiting to be shipped. Wood burning hot tubs are a very popular item, for all the reasons we’ve discussed in this post, and they simply shouldn’t be fast to manufacture. If you’re buying from a wood burning hot tub provider who can readily ship your tub, there’s a good chance they’re importing it from China and they’re not Canadian made to the high standards we set for ourselves in the industry. There are several reputable wood fired hot tub producers with high quality products, but each of them have a lead time because they're usually made-to-order and are in high demand. 

AlumiTubs are handcrafted by skilled craftsmen who pour over every detail of their work and pressure test it for quality before it leaves our shop. AlumiTubs are guaranteed to never leak, making them a sustainable choice that will stand the test of time and never need replacement. When you place your deposit on our website, we assign you our next shipping date and invoice you for the remaining balance of your order before it ships. The lead time will never increase, but there’s a chance you’ll receive it earlier than expected as we ramp up production. 

Check and authenticate customer reviews. AlumiTubs are the leading manufacturer of wood fired hot tubs in Canada. We've been operating for over 20 years and our track record can be proven. With 100's of 5 star reviews, 1000's of customer submitted photos enjoying their AlumiTub, and several 5 star accommodations using our tub for their guests, you can trust we're building a great product that's made to last.

wood burning hot tub

Key features and differentiators of wood fired hot tubs to consider before purchasing

Before buying a wood fired hot tub, here’s the main features, functions, and materials that make one more superior than another. You’ll be glad you spent the time doing your homework so you can enjoy your wood burning hot tub with ease, and for decades to come: 

  1. Aluminum or stainless steel lining: AlumiTubs pioneered the original aluminum wood fired hot tub to solve for the common setbacks found in traditional cedar hot tubs. That was 20 years ago, and other wood fired hot tub providers have followed suit for good reason! We highly recommend choosing a wood fired hot tub with either an aluminum or stainless steel foundation for its durability, longevity, hygiene, winter use where the tub not only heats more effectively, but can be left empty and kept from freezing, and all of the other reasons we’ve talked about in this post. Designed with the functions cabin owners need, and with the freedom to take it wherever adventure leads (thanks to being a pre-assembled unit), marine grade aluminum is not only more functional, but will stand the test of time. If weight and portability aren’t a factor for you and you have a plan to get it into its final location, stainless steel is another great option. Fiberglass and plastic are also better options than all-wood hot tubs in terms of being lower maintenance and less likely to leak, but they’re not as hygienic as the metal options, are heavier weight and less sustainable because the plastic will wear out from frequent exposure to hot water and chemicals over time, can’t be recycled when they run their course and will eventually sit in a landfill, can’t be customized with drainage ports, filtration units or alternative heat sources, and are less aesthetically appealing than their natural metal counterparts. 
  2. Internal wood fired hot tub stove: Wood fired hot tubs with internal / submerged fireboxes are more heat efficient and safer to use. They heat the water directly, and the submerged part of the firebox is not only protected with the cedar fence which prevents contact with the top of the stove and chimney which are extremely hot to touch, but the submerged part of the firebox is also cool to touch. With the heat efficiency of an internal wood stove paired with lid use and insulation sandwiched between the hot tub and the cedar cladding, AlumiTubs have superior heat quality, reducing the initial heat time and retaining its heat for days at a time with just an armful of wood a day.
  3. Canadian made quality craftsmanship and materials: Quality materials that are locally sourced, supporting our domestic economy and small businesses within the community and reducing our carbon footprint while providing customers with a precision-built handmade wood fired hot tub that’s built to last. We build each of our wood fired hot tubs in our own shop where we inspect and pressure test each, even filling it with water to guarantee no leaks before leaving our shop. We can vouch for the quality of each and every hot tub we ship out the door and are designed to last a lifetime.
  4. Customizable with dual heating: Every application is different, so it’s helpful to choose a wood fired hot tub that can be customized for your unique setting. Where the drainage port is located on the tub, ports to support filtration and dual heating sources are all factors that can be immensely helpful options for future use, even if they’re not important decision elements to you right now. With a tub that’s made to endure the decades, it’s nice to know you can add function should you please.
  5. Seating capacity and depth: 2 person hot tubs heat slightly quicker than the Standard 4-5 person wood fired hot tub, but all of our AlumiTub sizes retain their heat at hot tubbing temperature with just an armful of wood a day. We also manufacture a Standard and a Large wood fired hot tub, which is ideal for families and friends. While the volume of water to heat is an additional 200 liters, adding an hour or two to rise to hot tubbing temperature, because it holds its heat so well, it will maintain its heat for days at a time with just a few logs a day just as our Standard tub will. We always encourage customers to get a garden hose or string out to make a 5ft, 6ft diameter and a 7ft diameter, pretend sitting in it and decide then how close you'd want your friends or family members to be from you. Depth is also an important factor, as if it's too shallow, the tallest person in your group may have a cold shoulder, but if it's too deep, the seats may be too low for the smaller members of your group (like kids), to comfortably keep their heads above water. AlumiTubs are 38 inches deep to accommodate the most comfortable depth for different people - and no one has a cold shoulder.
  6. Aesthetic: Choosing a wood fired hot tub that fits the setting of your home, cottage or cabin is an important element. For this reason, we like the classic cedar hot tub look as it so seamlessly compliments any aesthetic. Plastic, fiberglass and electric spas can be an eyesore, but natural wood is always in, unless you have a super contemporary build, in which case a wood fired hot tubs probably won't be your thing. AlumiTubs design is rooted in Canadian heritage. Functional, simple, pure, and made from natural materials that will enhance your properties natural backdrop.
  7. Service: Just like anything, you get what you pay for and it's worth doing your homework before buying - especially for a large purchase like this one. There are wood fired hot tub companies out there that operate more from a money-centric ethos than one of an independent business who take pride in their products performance. At AlumiTubs we don't cut corners on our manufacturing, we ship your tub on time every time, we guarantee your wood fired hot tub will never leak, and we'll always respond to your questions by offering support. We're a family wanting others to experience what we love about wood fired hot tubs. We genuinely take pride in what we do and pleasure knowing we got to share something good with other families. We've been at it for 20 years and we intend to be here 20 years from now still making wood fired hot tubs we're proud to put our name to. There's several great independent wood fired hot tub companies out there, and we highly recommend sending an email or giving the business a call before placing an order to vet that the fit feels good. It's not like buying a pair of shoes, and you'll want to know that the company has your back should you need it down the road. 
wood burning hot tub canada

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