What is a wood fired hot tub? (Features, costs, pros, cons and more)

Thinking of buying a wood fired hot tub? Keep reading to learn the key points about wood fired hot tubs including features, cost, maintenance, pros, cons, and a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

If you're looking for a place to unwind after a long week, a wood-fired hot tub might be just what you need. But before making a purchase, it’s essential to make sure that it is the best fit for you.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What is a wood-fired hot tub and does it work?

As the name suggests, a wood-fired hot tub is a type of hot tub that is heated using wood as the fuel source.

Wood-fired hot tubs are mostly round in shape and typically consist of a large wooden barrel or tub, often made of cedar or redwood, and uses a stainless steel or copper stove, located externally, where firewood is burned.

The stove is connected to a metal coil or pipe system that runs through the water in the tub, allowing heat from the fire to transfer to the water and warm it up.

Most hot tubs like these are designed for holiday or weekend use. They’re popular for their traditional aesthetic and are common at holiday rentals and retreats.

They’re unlikely to have the advanced filtration systems of spa pools. To ensure the water is clear and safe, they are usually filled with water and heated up for a few days’ use and then emptied.

One of the key advantages of a wood-fired hot tub is its simplicity. There are usually no electrical connections or complex heating mechanisms involved. They offer a more rustic and back-to-basics bathing experience, closer to soaking in a natural hot spring.

What are the pros and cons of a wood fired hot tub?

Now that you have an understanding of what a wood fired hot tub is and how it works, it's time to explore its pros and cons and hopefully help you weigh the benefits against the potential drawbacks.


Low running costs

One of the obvious advantages of wood-fired hot tubs is the running cost as they only require dry wood to run. Depending on the cost of firewood in your area and how much you use the tub, you could expect to pay around $3.00 to $5.00 per session.

Additionally, wood-fired hot tubs have fewer mechanical parts and typically don’t require complex electrical systems – further reducing maintenance and repair costs.

Doesn’t require water sanitisers

Some wood-fired hot tubs, including Stoked Stainless™ Wood Fired and Alpine Spas™ Navrik™, don’t require any water sanitisers. This is most beneficial for people who prefer the natural feel and smell of untreated water.

Please note: While some hot tub manufacturers claim their tubs don't need sanitisers, in our experience, we believe all spa or hot tub water should be treated to ensure water is safe and free from contaminants. Spa World™ always recommends using an APVMA-approved chemical sanitiser in all hot tubs, spa pools, and swim spas to avoid the risk of water-borne illnessnes. Even if the water is not kept for more than a few days. In Australia, an APVMA-approved sanitiser is required by law for all hot tubs, spas, and swimming pools.

Aesthetic design

Most wood fired hot tubs have a traditional nature-inspired design. Their exterior panelling is typically made with cedar wood panels.

The natural aroma of cedar adds a sensory element to your soaking experience, which can further enhance relaxation and connection with nature.


Since wood-fired hot tubs don’t need an electrical connection, they can be placed almost anywhere on your property, including backyard gardens, patios, decks, and even remote camping locations.

However, it is important to keep in mind that wood fired hot tubs should always be placed on a flat and solid surface for optimal stability and safety.


Exposed metal elements

The metal components of wood-fired hot tubs, such as the stove and chimney, can become extremely hot to the touch. This can pose a safety risk, especially for children or pets.

Water temperature monitoring

Unlike electric or gas-powered hot tubs, wood-fired tubs do not typically have automatic temperature control systems.

You’ll need to do this yourself which can require extra time and attention. It can be challenging to achieve and maintain the desired water temperature without a built-in thermostat.

Ease of use

Enjoying a wood-fired hot tub requires advanced planning and preparation. You need to make time for gathering or purchasing wood, starting the fire, and waiting for the water to heat up.

This can become a time-consuming task, especially if you plan on using it frequently. Also, beginners might find it challenging to regulate the fire, control the heating process, and maintain a consistent water temperature.

Water hygiene

While one of the pros you may hear about wood-fired tubs is they don’t require water sanitisers. However, without sanitisers to treat and sanitise the water, bacteria and germs could grow rapidly – exposing you to skin infections and other skin problems.

To reduce bacterial growth and skin-related infections, it is recommended to clean and drain the water after each use.

Regardless of how often you change the water, Spa World™ always recommends using an APVMA-approved chemical sanitiser in all hot tubs, spa pools, and swim spas to avoid the risk of water-borne illnessnes. Even if the water is replaced regularly. In Australia, an APVMA-approved sanitiser is required by law for all hot tubs, spas, and swimming pools.

Limited features

When it comes to features, wood-fired hot tubs can’t compete with electric, hydrotherapy spa pools. While they may be great for soaking in and enjoying the atmosphere, hot tubs lack the additional comforts and features of a spa pool like moulded seats, lighting effects, hydrotherapy jets, music, aromatherapy, and more.

Fading wood panels

One potential drawback or concern with wood-fired hot tubs is the wooden panels. Exposure to the elements such as sunlight, moisture, and temperature changes can cause the wood to lose its colour or fade.

Regular upkeep and refinishing or applying protective coatings to the wood panels may be required to keep it looking good.

Higher price

Wood-fired hot tubs typically range in price from $12,000 to $18,000, which is comparable to mid-level portable spa pools.

These mid-level portable spa pools usually have a lot more features like hydrotherapy seats, automatic filtration systems to name a few.

To learn more about the specific brands of wood-fired hot tubs and their pricing, please click the button below.

How to use wood fired hot tub

If you’re considering buying a wood-fired hot tub, it helps to know how they work and how to use them. To help, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide.

Important note: The following steps are provided as a general guide on how to use a wood fired hot tub and certain models may have their own unique procedures. Please refer to the owner's manual and follow the specific instructions provided for your particular brand and model of wood fired hot tub to ensure safe and proper usage.

Step 1: Prepare the tub

Start by filling the wooden tub with water using a regular garden hose. Ensure that the water level is sufficient to cover the stove's heat exchanger or coil.

Step 2: Gather firewood

Collect a suitable amount of firewood, preferably hardwood such as oak or maple, which burns longer and hotter. Make sure the firewood is dry to ensure efficient combustion.

Step 3: Start the fire

Place the firewood inside the stove and ignite it using kindling or fire starters. Ensure that there is enough airflow for the fire to burn properly.

Step 4: Monitor the fire

Keep an eye on the fire, adjusting the airflow as needed to maintain a steady flame. Add more firewood as necessary to sustain the heat.

Step 5: Heat the water

As the fire burns, the heat will be transferred from the stove to the water through the heat exchanger or coil. This process usually takes two to three hours or even longer, depending on the type and amount of wood used and the outdoor temperature.

Step 6: Check the water temperature

Use a thermometer to periodically check the water temperature. Adjust the fire or add more wood to increase the heat if needed. If the water gets too hot, consider partially removing or adjusting the firewood to reduce the heat.

Step 7: Maintain the temperature

Continuously tend to the fire to keep the water at a comfortable temperature. This may involve adding more firewood or adjusting the airflow.

Step 8: Test the water before entering

Before getting into the hot tub, use your hand or a thermometer to ensure the water temperature is suitable. For your own safety, water temperatures should not exceed 40°C(104 °F). For healthy adults, 37°C or 100°F is the suggested safe temperature.

Step 9: Enjoy and relax

Once the water is at the desired temperature, you can finally step right in and enjoy a soothing and rejuvenating soak.

Step 10: Post-use maintenance:

After using the hot tub, allow the fire to burn out and the water to cool down. Properly dispose of the ashes and clean the tub as per the manufacturer's instructions to maintain its longevity.

Are wood fired hot tubs worth it?

There’s no doubt wood-fired hot tubs have a rustic charm that many people find appealing. There’s a real back-to-basics appeal with these types of hot tubs.

However, before you commit to this type of hot tub, there are some things you’ll want to consider to ensure it’s the right option for you.

For example, what do you want it for, how often would you like to use it, is comfort important to you? What about the water supply? These tubs are typically emptied and refilled every few days so you’ll want to make sure you have adequate water supply and water costs aren’t a factor.

After weighing up the pros and cons, you may find that an entry to a mid-level portable spa pool is a better long-term investment. They’re about the same price range as a mid-market hot tubs, but have a lot more features like hydrotherapy jets, lighting and moulded seating – plus they’re designed to stay heated and ready to use 24/7.

To learn more about the differences between hot tubs and spa pools, click the button below.

In Summary

If you’re after that back-to-basics charm and ambience, then a wood fired hot tub could be a great option.

If you think you’d enjoy using a hot tub every day, then an electric spa pool could be a better option.

Our advice? Visit your local hot tub and spa pool showrooms and try the different brands and options for yourself.

Most Spa World™ showrooms allow you to try out a spa pool. You can book a ‘wet test’ by clicking the button below.

DISCLAIMER: The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd – the parent company of Spa World Ltd:

Stoked Stainless™ trademark is owned by Stoked Stainless Limited. Cedar Hot Tubs™ , Alpine Spas™ trademark is owned by Alpine Spas Limited

Affiliations: Vortex® Spas, Fisher™ Spas and Spa World® are trademarks owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd. The Jacuzzi® brand is owned by Jacuzzi Inc. and exclusively licensed for use to Spa World™ in Australia and New Zealand.

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