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HISTORY OF CEDAR BARREL HOT TUBS

October 3rd, 2013 forestlumber

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The people of Japan have been using wooden baths for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  The baths are called “ofuros”.  Traditionally, the Japanese shower before entering their wooden bath.  The bath is used for a relaxing hot water soak.  Even to this day, most Japanese households have a wooden soaking tub.  Forest Lumber & Cooperage’s soaking tubs have been given the thumbs up from people of Japanese ancestry, which is a big complement to us.

The cedar barrel hot tub is relatively new in North America.  It started in the 1960’s in the wine yards of California.  When the grape harvest was over, the farm workers/ hippies would use one of the wooden grape crushing barrels, fill up with water and devise different ways of heating the water using a wood fire.  Some of these homemade submersible wood burning stoves were of ingenious construction, varying from stoves made from old beer kegs to defunct whiskey stills.  At the end of the season, everyone was having fun.  These people were uninhibited, and I am sure swim suits were not a common occurrence.  At some point, some entrepreneurial young person realized that the popularity of a wooden soaking tub could be marketed.  They were right, and they were very successful at hand crafting these wooden tubs and selling them to the general public.

5x3 wood fired  high res. 008It did not take long for the larger money making machine to take this idea, mass-produce them out of plastic and add different bells and whistles.  These new plastic tubs could be stamped out in a factory by the hundreds at minimum cost.  These low production costs were passed on to dealers.  Every one wanted to become a dealer because of high profit margins.  Now every town has a least a couple of dealers.  Unfortunately, the plastic tub manufacturers had spread rumors that wooden tubs are unsanitary and hard to maintain.  This could not be further from the truth.

In the past 15 years, there has been an increased demand for wooden hot tubs.  People are recognizing the quality of a hand crafted product and feel more attracted to sustainable wood products than throw away plastic.

Cedar barrel hot tubs have regained the reputation in the market place that they deserve.

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LIFE SPAN OF CEDAR BARREL TUBS

August 9th, 2013 forestlumber

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The life span of a hot tub is only as good as the quality of the wood from which it is made.

Western Red Cedar and Redwood are the two best woods for barrel hot tubs, saunas and water tanks.  For longevity the wood needs to be “first growth” Some of these trees can be up to 1000 years old.  They have had a long time to build up the natural chemical extractives that make the wood incredibly decay resistant.  Unfortunately Redwood and  Eastern White Cedar are now only available in “second growth” which are trees that have been re planted and are only about 60 years old.  They are low in the extractives that give the wood its decay resistance  The second growth has wider annual rings and a large proportion of sapwood.   Sapwood is the white wood under the bark that conducts the water up and down the tree.  The sapwood is where the tree does its growing.  This sapwood will eventually turn to heartwood as it builds up its mineral extractives.  The purpose of the heartwood is to support the tree and give it strength.  Sapwood has no decay resistant properties and should not be used at all in hot tubs.  The life span of sapwood in cedar is only about 7 years at the most.  This having been said I still see many hot tub manufacturers allowing second growth and sapwood into their products.

I will give you a perfect example that illustrates the decay resistance of first growth Western Red Cedar heartwood.  In a history

Cedar Barrel Hotubs book about logging on the West Coast of North America there is a photo of a huge cedar tree that fell over in a wind storm.  Three Douglas Fir trees grew on top of this blown down cedar.  The fir trees were cut down by loggers and the stumps were left behind.  When the growth rings on these stumps were counted, the fir trees were found to be 600 years old.  That means the cedar tree had been dead and on the ground for at least 600 years.  It turned out that this cedar log was still in such good condition that it was used to make violins!

I am not saying that our hot tubs will last 600 years, but we can easily say they will be good for 30 years plus.

Forest Lumber & Cooperage is located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia in the center of Western Red Cedar country.  We purchase cedar that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.  This is your guarantee that the wood is from a forest that is sustainable and  properly managed.  We use the absolute best wood to give you the ability to enjoy your cedar barrel hot tub for many years.