Wood Fired Hot Tubs: Soul Soothing Genius or Instabait BS?
A deep dive into the world of off-grid cedar soaking tubs—how they work, why they're awesome, and which to buy
Photo by Brit Gill courtesy Goodland
Welcome to Cabins Etc, the newsletter for cabin lovers, cottage enthusiasts, and DIY dreamers. We/I am/are back again with another Wednesday Deep Dive exclusive for our Certified Cabin Lover tier thought leaders.
Today’s issue—the latest in a long history of genuinely insightful features, such as why Geodesic Domes are scientifically dope, and how A-frames jumped the shark and become cool again—once more leans into the ETC portion of our syllabus with a red hot guide to WOOD FIRED HOT TUBS, the ultimate in off-grid relaxation
What may seem specifically invented to break thumbs smashing that IG like button actually have a rich history of wellness for the mind, body, and soul—i.e. wood fired hot tubs have been warming bohemian bums in perfect harmony with nature for eons. Beyond soaking in a natural hot spring, it’s difficult to imagine a more grounding and soothing outdoor experience than enjoying a cedar soaking tub full of steaming hot water, feeling the crisp air around you with nothing but the sound of a crackling fire and scent of smoke in the background.
Like many of you reading this rn, I spend all too much time daydreaming about building a little cabin in the woods. More recently though, with material prices still damn high and the reality that building a house/cabin/cottage can take upwards of 16 months, I’ve been spending more and more time thinking about building a little DIY A-frame, maybe a cool shaped deck, and plopping down a ready made hot tub to complete the barebones package. For like $10-15k that could actually happen (BYO Land). So, I put together this little guide (with the generous help of Kat Englishman, shout out you, Kat, if you’re reading this) to touch on all I would need to know to actually make an informed decision on buying (or building) my own wood fired hot tub.
So here we go. (Spoiler: scroll to the bottom for a few choice tubs I actually might buy myself.)
(Spoiler #2: next week we’ll be diving deep into how to become a successful Airbnb magnate with the legend Robuilt. It’s gonna be good!)
Photo by Shayd Johnson
From Japan with love
In it’s most pure form, a wood fired hot tub is a simple soaking tub that uses a wood-burning stove rather than an electric heater to heat either fresh or saltwater. They typically have a circular or barrel shape (or rectangle if you go with newcomer Goodland), and are most often than not made from cedar wood, for its natural antimicrobial properties.
The modern North American version you’re likely picturing in your head was initially inspired by traditional Japanese ofuros, which are deep soaking tubs crafted from hinoki cypress wood designed for deep spiritual, mental, and physical restoration and capable of cleansing more than just your pores.
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