In the last few decades, spa technology has improved significantly. In their original form, hot tubs were heated by a wood fire, had unreliable temperatures, and came with a demanding maintenance schedule! That is in stark contrast to the modern electric-powered spas we see today.
Timber hot tubs do indeed seem appealing. In part, this is thanks to the aesthetic photos posted on social media. However, they are a hassle to deal with and are not the go-to in modern life. In this article, we will compare and contrast traditional timber hot tubs and modern spas, and give you a sound understanding of the progress that has been made.
How Did Traditional Timber Hot Tubs Work?
Timber hot tubs are round in shape and resembled a half wooden barrel in their appearance. These half-barrels are then filled with water and connected to a heating system. There are three different heating systems for timber hot tubs. The traditional method of heating was with a wood fire, however, modern timber hot tubs utilise gas and electricity.
Heating your Hot Tub
Heating a Traditional Hot Tub
Hot tubs were traditionally heated using a wood fire. To use a wood fire heater on a wooden hot tub, a log-burning stove was attached to the side of the tub. The temperature of the water was then controlled by adding wood to the log-fire stove and controlling the stove’s airflow. The more air that reached the fire, the hotter the flame would burn. By limiting the airflow, you were also able to reduce the amount of heat produced by the flame.
The temperature of hot tubs was not reliable as they are today. It was quite easy to accidentally overheat the water or let it cool down too much. This heating system is a safety hazard and thanks to innovation, has been largely eliminated.
Heating a Modern Hot Tub
Modern hot tubs are much more efficient to heat and use either electricity or propane. Hot tubs powered by electricity are far more common than propane-powered hot tubs.
Using electricity and modern heaters to heat your hot tub means that you have full control of your hot tub temperature. Eliminating the need to adjust your temperature via fire and airflow also means that you can be assured that whenever you choose to use your hot tub, it will be at your preferred temperature.
Using electricity is also much more eco-friendly. Timber hot tubs do not contain insulation like a modern spa; multiple layers of inbuilt insulation plus a tight fitting hardcover on top ensures minimal heat loss. Large amounts of heat were lost through the timber and required the heater, aka fire, to be continuously burning. The additional water used to complete water changes is also unsustainable, especially if you are in a drought-prone area.
Cleaning your Hot Tub
Cleaning a Timber Hot Tub
Traditional timber hot tubs need to be cleaned much more frequently than modern ones. Traditional tubs required a water change every 2-3 uses. In addition to changing the water, they also needed to be wiped down and rinsed to keep the hot tub clean and in good condition. The only way to use a timber hot tub without having to do a water change every 2 to 3 uses is to add chlorine or bromine to the water as a sanitiser. However, these chemicals can be detrimental to the timber and cause a shorter lifespan.
Cleaning a Modern Hot Tub
Modern hot tubs require less cleaning and maintenance than their traditional timber counterpart. Modern hot tubs will need to be maintained approximately every 4 to 6 months. This major clean should include a water change, a wipe down of the internal surfaces and a general check for any maintenance issues. You can read our information on maintaining a hot tub here.