Wood Fire Hot Tubs FAQ


Relax, rejuvenate & restore in a classic way

The Perfect Addition to Any Recreation Property. Relax in hot water listening to a crackling fire in one of Backcountry Hot Tubs Wood-burning Cedar Hot Tubs, also known as Japanese soaking tubs. These traditional, cooperage–style cedar hot tubs are hand-crafted from 100% Canadian Grad-A clear western red cedar, giving you quality and craftsmanship that stands the test of time. Using no electricity, this uniquely designed wood-burning hot tub heater takes about 2-3 hours to heat your tub water from 7.2° C to 40.6° C (45° F to 105° F). Our Saunas only take 20 min to heat up as well. Filtration and chemicals are not required as you will change the water frequently. Find out how we can make your special spot a paradise today.

Why purchase a wooden hot tub?

First, because they're awesome. Second, because they look cool. And third, they are like a piece of history. In the past, castles and palaces had wooden hot tubs. But back then, the water needed to be heated separately. Our hot tubs come with wood-burning stoves to heat the water. Live like a king for a fraction of the effort!

How big are the hot tubs?

We sell almost any size of hot tubs, small enough for a romantic dip or big enough for a football team! Our best-selling model is made for up to six people, but we sell models ranging from 2-30 person capacity.

When can I use my wooden hot tub?

You can use your wooden hot tub all year round. It can also be used with hot or cold water. This means you can use it as a refreshing pool in the hot summer months and as a relaxing hot tub in the cold winter months. We recommend combining your hot tub with one of our wooden saunas. There is nothing like going back and forth between a hot tub and a sauna – it is the peak of relaxation.

How long will my wooden hot tub last? How do I make it last longer?

Your wooden hot tub should last at least 30 years. Treating the hot tub semi-annually (1-2 times per year) with linseed oil (externally only) and a wood protection agent and cleaning the inside of the hot tub with non-caustic soap using a brush or high-pressure cleaner will extend the hot tub's life expectancy by a further 10-15 years. Do not paint the hot tub or treat the inside of the wooden hot tub. You do not have to clean or treat the underside of your wooden hot tub, as the hot tub is designed so that dampness on the hot tub bottom does not occur.

Where can I put my wooden hot tub?

Your wooden hot tub must be placed on stable, flat ground. We recommend placing the wooden hot tub on a gravel, wood chip, or stone / concrete tile base. We do not recommend placing the wooden hot tub directly on dirt or grass. Depending on local conditions, a drainage system could be recommended. 

What is my wooden hot tub made of?

Your beautiful new wooden hot tub is made out of Canadian red cedar. This is the absolute best for this application. It is strong, elastic, and durable. It is highly warp-resistant and one of the longest-lasting woods. Additionally, red cedar has a beautiful appearance that we know you and your guests will appreciate.

Does my wooden hot tub come fully assembled?

No! However, we also offer assembly services to Canadian customers. The hot tubs are easily assembled by matching the wood components together using the "tongue and groove" principle. Standard tools and a little bit of time are required. One requirement of self-assembly, however, is that you take no longer than seven days to assemble your wooden hot tub fully. After this time, the natural wood may warp if not fully assembled. Contact customer service if you have any questions or concerns.

Are there any special set-up instructions?

Yes, there is a specific method when filling your new wooden hot tub for the first time.

First, fill the water (usually with a hose) until it reaches the 4-inch (10 cm) mark. Leave the hot tub like this overnight. This will allow the wood to swell and make the hot tub walls and floor dense and consistent.

Continue this process daily until the hot tub is at 80% capacity. Then, each day, add four inches of water (10 cm) and let it sit overnight. This will allow the wood to swell and help extend the life of your wooden hot tub.

How do I operate my wooden hot tub?

After the initial filling process (outlined above), filling your wooden hot tub becomes faster and easier. Simply fill the hot tub with your garden hose to 80% of the hot tub capacity. You may also use water sourced from a lake, a river, or the ocean. Ensure to cover the stove surface by at least 1.5 inches when the heater is installed inside the hot tub. And remember never to heat the hot tub when it is empty. This can cause a fire and/or irreparable damage.

  • Caution: Do not empty the hot tub until the stove has completely cooled down.

What about the cold winters in Canada?

Our hot tubs are invented and designed for the cold temperatures we know and are custom to here in Canada, and it and our hot tubs work well in very cold climates. How you deal with a wood-fired hot tub in very cold weather depends on your usage pattern and whether or not electricity is available. If you are using it at least once a week, you should be fine in all except the most extreme weather, as the water (with appropriate covers) shouldn't lose more than about 15-18 degrees per day except the most extreme weather. However, you want to avoid having the entire tub freeze solid, which will most likely damage the bottom boards.

If you will be leaving your tub untended for extended periods in sub-freezing weather, here are some things you can do to prevent damage to the tub from freezing:

  • If you have electricity, a stock tank heater is the most simple, inexpensive and effective solution to keep the tub from freezing.
  • If water availability is not an issue, drain all but 4-5 inches or so and just let that freeze and refill when you return. The few inches of ice won't hurt the tub and will help keep the tub bottom and base of the staves (the walls of the tub) "seasoned". When ready to use the tub, simply top it off and fire up the stove.
  • If the water to refill the tub is an issue, you can anchor 8-10 floating empty plastic milk jugs at varying levels. When the water freezes and expands, the milk jugs act as shock absorbers, so the tub isn't damaged. This approach is most useful when water to refill the tub is a problem.
  • If you do not drain the tub and notice a few inches of ice on the tub surface, just start up a small fire, and let the stove heat slowly. You can allow several inches of ice to form on the surface of the tub without doing any damage.
  • If the tub does happen to freeze completely, caution is advised. You can melt the ice by starting a fire, but a fast-burning fire quickly melts the ice around the stove. The water can then boil away, exposing the stove to air which will cause the aluminium to melt. Without water surrounding the stove, it could melt. We recommend adding water to the frozen surface's top while melting the ice. You should try and heat your tub up at least once a week, and of course, heating it up means you get to enjoy it, too.
  • Some owners with tubs at cabins where no water is available during winter months leave their tubs full but secure with a rope, a large, partially inflated inner tube to the bottom of the tub. This allows the inner tube to take the stress of the expanding ice so that the tub is not damaged. (The inner tube needs to be completely submerged near or at the bottom of the tub).

What can I add to the hot tub water?

You may add any natural and biodegradable product to the water for relaxation. For example, add salt, herbal extracts, or essential oils to heighten your wooden hot tub experience. However, adding non-biodegradable products to the water could cause bacterial/algae growth.

How long does the water take to heat up?

It depends. Our hot tubs come in many sizes (ranging from 2-8 person capacity), so naturally, the heating time depends on the hot tub size. Heating time also depends on the external temperature, the wind conditions, and whether the hot tub has been covered (insulated). Generally, heating time ranges from 1.5-4 hours.

How do I manage the ash from the oven?

How often you clean the ash depends on how often you use your wooden hot tub. For infrequent users, once a month should suffice; for frequent users, we recommend clearing out the ash once a week. Use a shovel to remove the ash. Use the specially designed ash-removal shovel available on our website under "accessories" for the best results.

How do I drain the wooden hot tub?

The wooden hot tub has a drainage valve. Simply connect a hose to the valve and release the water. Changing the water each time you use your wooden hot tub is unnecessary. Instead, change the water only when necessary.

How do I manage water cleanliness?

Watch out for algae growth or a greasy film. This is a sure-fire sign your water needs changing. You may use a UV-purification system, though chlorinated supplements are not recommended (these may degrade the wood).

My new wooden hot tub is leaking? What's going on!?

Relax! This is totally normal. Because wood is a natural product, each piece has its own intricacies and features. Eventually, the wood will swell and settle, and you will no longer experience leaks.

How long can I leave my wooden hot tub empty?

You should not let your wooden hot tub sit empty for an extended period of time. This can cause the hot tub to dry out and can cause warping, affecting the hot tub's density and consistency. However, if your wooden hot tub does sit empty for a long time and the tension straps fall, follow these instructions:

  • Using short screws to avoid damaging the stave or the wall, screw four screws underneath the tension straps into the wood.
  • If the tension straps are loose, you should tighten them carefully until the staves are even and fixed to the floor section.
  • Fill the hot tub with 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) of water so the hot tub floor can become consistent again.

I left my wooden hot tub empty for a long time, and now it leaks. Do I tighten the tension straps?

Not under normal circumstances. The tension straps are made, so they do not have to be tightened. The dry wood absorbs the water, swells, and becomes dense and consistent.

My wooden hot tub is sitting empty. Should I cover it?

No, you should not. Air must circulate in the hot tub to prevent mould formation.

Is my wooden hot tub portable?

Yes, it is. If you are redesigning your yard or landscaping, you may carry, roll, or lift your wooden hot tub to a different location, depending on its weight.

Our wooden hot tubs range from 4.5 feet (130 cm) in diameter to 8.5 feet (250 cm). Each wooden hot tub has a height of about 3.3 feet (100 cm).

General Warnings:

  • Fire and hot water can cause injuries. Do not leave children unattended around the wooden hot tub.
  • Please do not use the wooden hot tub when influenced by prescription medication, alcohol, or recreational drugs.
  • Do not leave the hot tub unattended when the stove is burning.

General Information:

  • Please note that all information included here is based on best practices. However, local conditions and other factors must be considered to ensure a successful experience for each wooden hot tub user.


Your tub will seal itself and achieve a watertight seal through the natural swelling of the wood that occurs as water is absorbed into the wood.

Begin to fill your tub with water using a standard garden hose. If your water supply is limited, see tip#4 in the following section on leaks. Once the tub has begun to hold water, you can expect some dripping and leaking. It may hardly leak if you have done a superior job. However, if your tub is not as tight as some, it may leak more.

Don't get nervous if you see small streams of water. As long as you have closed your gaps to less than the thickness of a matchbook cover and there aren't more than a half dozen or so such gaps between the staves, the tub will be able to swell and seal itself. If your tub is holding water above the minimum water level of the stove, and you plan on keeping a careful eye on the water level, you can start a small fire and heat your tub up a bit. The warm water helps the wood swell. Don't let the water drop below the minimum water level on the stove. The swelling and sealing process may take three days to one and a half weeks to run its course. Cold winter weather can cause the swelling process to take longer. Occasionally, a tub may drain completely after the initial filling, but the wood absorbs water and swelling, so keep adding water. 



At first, tannins from the wood will leach into the water, turning it reddish brown. This leaching process may last anywhere from 2 - 3 months, depending on the amount of tannin in the wood. The tannins are not harmful and indicate the amount of natural preservatives in the wood, but they can discolour bathing suits. The discolouration of the water can be controlled with chlorine and related standard spa chemicals.

Because the tannins leach out quickly at first, you will have to replenish the chlorine fairly often to keep the water clear, but this should decrease noticeably after a few weeks. As always, when adding chlorine to a tub, dissolve it in water in a bucket first.


Additional FAQ

Q. How much does it weigh?

A. The entire shipping weight of a 6' x 4' kit is approx. 675 lbs, including crate. The tub, minus the stove and benches, can be easily carried by 4 people.

Q. How many gallons does it hold?
A. 6' x 4' tub holds 600 gallons.

Q. How do you control the temperature?
A. Start with a roaring fire until you get close to temperature, say 95F, then reduce the size of the fire until it reaches 102F - 106F. When you get to the tub temperature, keep a small fire going. The fire can also be slowed down by adjusting the draft. It is better to control temperature by fire size than by closing the damper because a build of creosote can result. It is also easy to cool down the tub just by adding cold water.

Q. How long does it take to heat up?
A. It takes  3 1/2 to 4 hours to go from 40F to tub temperature 105F. This is four times as fast as a conventional spa heater. 

Q. How much wood does it take?
A. A moderate size wheelbarrow load of DRY wood.

Q. Can we use salt water?
A. Yes. The stove is made of salt water -certified aluminum, and all hardware included with the tub is non-corrosive. The cedar is not affected by the salt.

Q. Does the tub come with a warranty?
A. Your total satisfaction is our goal. The stoves have a 1 year. Through high-quality materials and craftsmanship, we have built a lot of life into our tubs and stoves, and average life expectancy is 20 to 25 years.

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