Wooden hot tubs, particularly cedar, are recommended by many for a low-chemical hot tub experience. But with urban myths about leaking, cleaning issues, and wood cracking, it’s not uncommon to wonder are cedar hot tubs good?
Here’s what I learned looking into it:
Cedar hot tubs are among the best hot tubs manufactured. They are easy to clean and maintain, have a great water depth compared to traditional hot tubs, and rarely develop leaks despite the building material.
But you might wonder how long a cedar hot tub will last and what makes them so durable.
I’ll go over a few things you need to know that will help your cedar hot tub last longer. Cost is always important when buying a hot tub, and I’ll cover factors you need to consider before purchasing one.
This article will also cover how a cedar hot tub works, whether it needs chemicals and how to clean it. Read on to find out more!
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How long do cedar hot tubs last?
A cedar hot tub can last up to twenty years if regularly cleaned and maintained. Overuse of chlorine or bromine is the most common reason for cedar hot tubs to develop leaks and fail.
What makes a cedar hot tub last so long is the antibacterial and anti-decay properties of the wood.
The wood is also low maintenance and repels both moisture and insects. Even though cedar is one of the best woods to use for hot tubs, it can only last as long as you care for it.
Cleaning the hot tub and doing it the right way is extremely important to the tub’s overall lifespan.
Because wood is an organic material, you can’t use bleach directly to clean it as it will damage the surface. So a mix of water with a tiny amount of bleach and a scrub brush works great for cleaning your hot tub after draining the water before refilling.
Another important way to ensure your hot tub will last for years is proper water maintenance.
You’ll need to add sanitizers and oxidizers to your water to prevent bacteria growth. But overuse of chlorine or bromine is the #1 way wood hot tubs develop leaks. So for that reason, many wood hot tub owners opt for non-chlorine sanitizers or ozone systems.
You’ll also need to pay attention to the pH of the water. Too acidic, and you’ll irritate your skin and damage the wood, too alkaline, and you’ll have stains in your tub.
So, Blake’s been building a cedar hot tub in the past few months while I’ve been puttering in the garden.
This weekend, we assembled it into tub form and 😍 pic.twitter.com/HJFcZYbV5H
— Kendra Fortmeyer (@kendraffe) July 27, 2020
How much is a cedar hot tub?
Cedar hot tubs average about $8,500 but can range between $7,500 and $13,500, depending on diameter and depth, with the heater included (usually sold separately). Yellow cedar is typically 11% more than red cedar and gas heaters are 21% cheaper than electric heaters to purchase.
There are a few factors that determine the price, so you’ll need to know what capacity you need.
The type of heater your hot tub uses will also affect the overall price. A wood-fired heater is the least expensive as well as the most environmentally friendly.
Solar-powered and electric heaters are more costly, but gas heaters are definitely the most expensive out there. When deciding which hot tub to purchase, make sure you consider the price of electricity, wood, or gas in your area.
The sanitation system you choose will also incur an additional charge. Some manufacturers will have the systems included in the purchase of your hot tub, while others won’t.
You might want to purchase a used hot tub instead of a new one.
Yes, it could be cheaper but make sure you check out the actual cost of refurbishing it if needed. Trust me, I’ve done it before, and I ran into a couple of unexpected expenses.
Now you’re probably a little nervous about purchasing your first tub but don’t freak out yet.
Here’s my recent article on 23 Crucial Things to Know Before Buying Your First Hot Tub. This is a must-read, so click that link to check it out!
Just click that link to read it on my site.
— Visit Colorado (@Colorado) June 16, 2016
How does a cedar hot tub work?
Cedar hot tubs are made from 2×6 tongue and groove boards held together with steel bands. They are typically deeper than an acrylic tub. A stand-alone heater heats the water, and the water is chemically treated as a normal hot tub is. They do typically require assembly after delivery.
So assuming you didn’t pay 2-3 times the regular shipping fee to get a factory assembled hot tub, you’ll need to assemble it at home. Don’t fret! It’s pretty simple.
All you have to do is follow the instruction manual for assembly. Don’t worry; IKEA didn’t print the instructions!
The wood is already pre-cut, so you just need to fit the pieces in their right places. You’ll need a few tools like a Phillip screwdriver, wrenches, and a mallet.
After assembling, you’ll need to add some water to your hot tub.
Don’t go for a dip just yet! Do not fill your tub with water at once. The wood will need to swell and form a tight seal, so fill it gradually over a period of 7 days or so.
You may notice tiny leaks in those first few days. That’s totally normal, but assuming you assembled it correctly, it will be good to go within a week.
Once you turn on the heater, it will take between 1 to 5 hours for the hot tub to reach a soaking temperature of 104 degrees F.
That time also depends on external factors like outdoor temperatures and what the temp is coming out of your hose.
Once the water starts heating, cold water flows down while warm water flows upwards. Your heater will constantly have water moving this way.
Emptying the ash from your heater needs to be done 1-4 times a month depending on how often you use the hot tub.
Drain your hot tub every 3 months just like a regular hot tub. Most hot tubs have a bottom drain, and so unlike acrylic tubs, 100% of the water will drain right out!
We haven’t reached all of our #renovation goals at @AdobeOasis over the last eight months — mañana, mañana, mañana — but it sure feels good to fiiinnnaaallllllyyy soak the bones in this Alaskan yellow cedar hot tub from @RobertsHotTubs with a panoramic view of #SantaFeNM. pic.twitter.com/lybypn8f7Y
— virtualDavis (@virtualDavis) May 8, 2019
Do wood-fired hot tubs need chemicals?
Wood hot tubs do require some form of sanitation, as well as chemicals to balance pH and alkalinity. However, many prefer to use non-chlorine sanitizer and shock, or an Ozone system to avoid harsh chemicals like chlorine. Bromine is not usually recommended for wooden hot tubs due to its corrosive effects.
So I mentioned Ozone as an alternative sanitizer.
Ozone is a natural cleaner that ionizes organic matter such as dead skin and bacteria that is left in the tub after each use. Typically you would use an Ozone generator attached to the hot tub’s plumbing system.
They also have UV light sanitizers as well.
For non-chlorine shock and sanitizer, I really do like BAQUA Spa products from Amazon, which are great chlorine-free and bromine-free chemicals for the most natural hot tub experience you can get!
But another good way to sanitize a wooden hot tub is with a Hydroxyl Radical Injection system.
That sounds fancy and a little scary, but it basically just converts oxygen into atomic oxygen which acts as a totally natural sanitizer. No chemicals needed other than pH and alkalinity adjustments.
You can learn more about that on their website (not a paid endorsement) – https://clearcomfort.com/products/
My better half, Tim, designed and built this entire thing by himself (stove and all). The precision and patience!! 🤩 This #offgrid, wood-fired, cedar hot tub is downright GORGEOUS! Checking for leaks now. Fence for stove and bench seating still to come. #DIY #Welder #Carpenter pic.twitter.com/Jte61IbulF
— Jess Puddister (@Jess_Puddister) June 21, 2019
How do you keep a wooden hot tub clean?
A scrub brush and a mild bleach-water solution are all you need for keeping your wooden hot tub clean. Drain on schedule every 3 months, and scrub the interior with the solution. Then rinse, and refill.
As I mentioned earlier, keeping your hot tub clean is essential for its lifespan.
Even more important is your health. A dirty hot tub is a breeding haven for bacteria, especially if you go over the limit of persons allowed at a time.
For day-to-day cleaning, you’ll need to keep your wooden hot tub sanitized with one of the systems I mentioned above (chlorine, Ozone, Oxygen, or a non-chlorine sanitizer).
The water can’t be too acidic or too alkaline. Simply purchase hot tub test strips from your hot tub store. These strips will tell you if you need to put additives in the water to decrease or increase acidity or alkalinity.
In addition to using Ozone, you can also use hydrogen peroxide to sanitize your tub.
For this, you’ll need to know how much water is in your tub, and the peroxide also needs to be 27% solution. For every 100 gallons of water in the tub, you’ll need to add 1/3 cup of peroxide.
BAQUA Spa products from their Amazon store are great chlorine-free and bromine-free chemicals for the most natural hot tub experience you can get!
On a month-to-month basis, you need to check the interior and exterior of your hot tub for cracks, decay, cuts, and other issues.
If you don’t use your hot tub that often, you can get a water sparkle agent to keep it looking clear and inviting.
It won’t be useful for anything else, but it might be worth the purchase. If your hot tub water is green, you’ll need to use a coagulant like an Algaecide to destroy algae. But I personally find that to be rare in hot tubs while common in pools.
Twice a year, the filtration system needs to be removed, inspected, and cleaned as well.
Did I cover all you wanted to know about cedar hot tubs and whether they are any good?
In this article, I covered the reasons why cedar hot tubs last up to 20 years.
They’re moisture resistant, anti-decaying, and the wood is dense. You also learned that these hot tubs could be expensive, and their capacity, type of heater, and condition need to be factored in.
I also covered how the cedar hot tub actually works, from assembly to draining the tub. Also, you learned that while the hot tub needs to be kept clean, there are a number of environmentally friendly alternatives to chlorine and bromine.
We discussed the use of Ozone, sand filtration, and UVC filters. I also went in-depth on how to clean a cedar hot tub.