Wood Fired Hot Tub Renovation — No Leak Liner

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 8, 2014      
On the way to WildSnow Workshop.

With better weather for working outside, tub on the way to WildSnow Workshop.

The 550 gallon tank.

With a diameter of 64″ this 550 gallon HDPE water tank should fit nicely inside our wood fired hot tub. What could be better than a bathtub made from Ptex? The used wood tub we bought was ruined for self sealing because it had sat outside for several years unprotected from the weather, resulting in a lot of cracking and warping. Since we have to haul water to the tiny house at WildSnow Field HQ, we need a tub with zero leakage.

Snowmobile is so handy.  Here it steadies the tank for cutting.

Snowmobile is so handy. Here it steadies the tank for cutting. Working with HDPE is almost like cutting wood, though you do have to be careful of cutting tools getting hot and melting the plastic. A light spray with water before you begin can help. We found cutting the top off the tank to be easier than expected. Carrying the floppy thing afterwards, however, was a challenge. We ended up making two handles with long strips of duct tape, yet another use for the Swiss Army Knife on a roll.

Measure and cut, or cut and measure.

Measure and cut, or cut and measure.

Sawzall makes the hole for the drain on the tank.

Sawzall makes the hole for the tank (now a wood hot tub liner) drain.

Vacuum up layers of caked dirt before inserting tank.

Vacuum up layers of caked dirt before inserting tank.

Lou loosened the rings and we took out half the boards, then lowered the tank into place.

Lou loosened the rings and we took out half the boards, then slid and lowered the tank-liner into place. They do make liners for these wood fired hot tubs, but they’re fragile vinyl. Making this liner cost slightly more but it’s beefy HDPE that should hold up to storage in cold temperatures and other backcountry abuses.

Perfect fit!

Perfect fit!

Eventually Lou may craft a wooden rim.  In the meantime, we'll use a decommissioned urethane fire hose.

Eventually Lou may craft a wooden rim. In the meantime, we’ll use decommissioned urethane fire hose.

Lou adds a heat shield in hopes the stove won't melt the tub liner.

Lou adds a heat shield in hopes the stove won’t melt the tub liner. Turns out this is merely unnecessary but probably better to have than not. When the snorkel stove is fired up and the hot tub is filled to the proper level, most heat is absorbed by the water.

We back up the trailer into our yard to fill and test the tank.  Note our new sewer line in the background.  Repair hot tub project wins over repair landscaping project.

We back up the trailer into our yard to fill the tank for testing. Note our new sewer line project in the background. The backhoe operator had a time. Repair hot tub project wins over repair landscaping project. All we need now is a car up on blocks to complete our transition to another lifestyle. Does having a Jeep parked in the yard count?

After slaving away in the hot sun, Lou's spirit gets lifted with a new tool. -- a torch attachment for propane tank.  Very necessary to start fire in Snorkel Stove.

After slaving away in the hot sun, Lou’s spirit gets lifted with a new tool — monster “weed burner” torch attachment for propane tank. Very necessary to start fire in wood fired hot tub snorkel stove. Not necessary to start the remnants of our lawn on fire, as is happening in this photo. To quote His Blogness: “Say hello to my little friend, best tool I’ve bought all year!”

In case you missed it, here’s how the wood fired hot tub came to WildSnow.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


16 Responses to “Wood Fired Hot Tub Renovation — No Leak Liner”

  1. Scott Nelson October 8th, 2014 11:25 am

    You might be a redneck if…… Looks great and probably bomber!

  2. Billy October 8th, 2014 12:09 pm

    I guarantee you’ll enjoy soaking in your tub more than the guy with the multi-million dollar, helicopter accessed, backcountry estate hot tub.

  3. Phil October 8th, 2014 5:02 pm

    Where, or maybe a better word is how, will you sit? Please tell me you won’t use lawn chairs in the tub.

  4. Lou Dawson 2 October 8th, 2014 9:07 pm

    I’m growing a mullet, and we did use lawn chairs for the test sesh (grin). Have to install some benches, we have the original ones, they require punching through the liner so I’m proceeding slow. It’s like through drilling a boat hull, gotta do it right. Lou

  5. John October 8th, 2014 10:34 pm

    HA!! That seems pretty lucky/perfect being able to find a tank with the exact right diameter. Does this mean I now need a hot tub quiver in addition to my ski quiver? Make sure to be cautious if you are trying to melt ice in the tub if you’ve been away from the tub for a while. I’ve heard of a couple people frying their stove trying to melt a completely frozen tub.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 October 9th, 2014 4:57 am

    John, thanks, we heard you can’t leave water in it that would freeze, if you do you have to wait till summer for it to thaw. They say if you do have to leave water in for extended period with risk of freezing, you leave a submerged inflated inner tube or plastic jugs, that can compress in the ice to prevent damage. Our plan is to only use it periodically in the winter, and drain it each time. Lou

  7. mark October 9th, 2014 8:09 am

    wow you guys are hauling water for this? impressive!! can’t help but think that a wood fired sauna would be better suited for your situation, maybe you already have one though. It is the best soak there is. Ours would freeze up, wasn’t too bad just start a fire but it would take a long time and lots of wood to thaw. Have fun!!

  8. Lou Dawson 2 October 9th, 2014 8:19 am

    Mark, the water hauling isn’t that big a deal when you have a gigantic haul truck. It’s just a matter of having a big enough tank. If the aluminum Snorkel brand stove is fired in a frozen tub it’ll ruin the stove, so we have to be careful. Took about 3 hours to heat during first test, which was fine. Very efficient, actually, and way cheaper than heating with electricity. Lou

  9. Mark October 9th, 2014 11:23 am

    I’m sure you have a box full of tips on these things. But here’s one more, I cut some 2″ blue foam insulation to float on top and keep the heat in during warm up and to keep temps high between soaks. I’m sure your right on freezing and the stove but ours didn’t seem to mind. Probably not worth the risk on the welds though. Love the leak solution, I use to pound cotton into the seams ala boat building but yours will be bomb proof.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 October 9th, 2014 11:57 am

    Thanks Mark, yeah, lots of blue foam is in the equation! We use that stuff for nearly all our insulating, rodent resistant and moisture proof. Expensive, but it saves from a lot of problems down the line. Lou

  11. Brian October 10th, 2014 11:03 am

    So you are hauling water in every time you want to use it? this doesn’t seem very practical

  12. Lou Dawson 2 October 10th, 2014 11:07 am

    Brian, we’re used to hauling water up there, no big deal. We fill the tank here at home and it’s in the same truck we drive up there anyway when. Nonetheless, no, we’re not going to be doing it dozens of times in a winter, just for special occasions. More in the summer when we can get the truck closer and don’t have to deal with running the hose down a short hill in the snow. If we build a bigger cabin we’ll still be on a private water tank system. Lot’s of people do it that way. Most municipal public systems originate at some form of tank as well, it’s just a matter of scale. Lou

  13. Gerald Vonberger October 21st, 2014 5:12 pm

    No-leak liner sounds like what we need for our hot tub. We are trying to repair it right now. It leaks quite a bit. I can’t tell where the leak is, so it’s probably just better to line the whole thing.

  14. alan sailer January 6th, 2015 1:13 pm

    Looks like you are doing a great job restoring the old tub. I have a similar tub with a persistent leak and would be very interested in the source for your homemade liner. I understand that it is a HDPE water tank, but the exact manufacturer would be welcome information.


  15. Sandy English August 8th, 2016 12:02 pm

    I have been looking for a solution to my 18 yr old snorkel…vinyl liner worked for a few years, but started to leak also…lived off grid for 22 years now and am happy to say I am going to do this…did you use rubber washers or silicone for the holes to to attach the stove to the tub? Cool deal..thanks for the info…Sandy English, Colorado

  16. Lou Dawson 2 August 8th, 2016 4:18 pm

    Hi Sandy, I used both silicon and rubber washers, look at toilet tank bolts/washers. I was bummed I had to drill the holes but they’re working fine. Can always reach down in there when the tub is dry and re-silicon, but start with a rubber washer system, again, toilet tank bolts looked to me like they might be the solution, or something along those lines. I’d also suggest, while you’re at it, cut the liner an inch or two higher than the tub rim so you have room for extra water when people get in. Wish we’d done that. At least with our tub, the correct water level for the stove is pretty near the top, and it overflows when a few people get in.

    Remember the heat shielding, HDPE has a low melting point.

    Alan, there are not that many companies making those tanks. Easy to find on the internet. I know it’s roto molded. We bought it from a local supplier so we could verify the dimensions.


  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version