Hot tubs are a relaxing way to relieve stress. Soaking in a hot tub can relieve sore muscles and joints, especially after exercise. Many people find that it’s easier to sleep after using a hot tub. However, buying your own hot tub can be expensive, with many models costing several thousand dollars. Fortunately, there are free plans for building a homemade tub. Some of these tubs can cost as little as $75.
Mother Earth magazine gives step-by-step instructions for building your hot tub, along with a lot of other useful advice. The tub you’ll build is wood-fired and, when the article was published in 2010, the whole set-up cost less than $1,000, with the most expensive part being the wood-fired heater. The water for this tub will not remain hot the way commercial tubs will. You’ll need to build a fire several hours before you plan to use your tub. The tub itself can be made from metal or polyethylene plastic. Author Greg Kossow chose a 100-gallon plastic tank made by Rubbermaid, which is available for purchase from most farm stores.
The how-to guides offered by sustainable living project, Steward Community Woodland, don’t offer step-by-step instructions, because project members feel different approaches are needed depending on the people, resources and situation. Instead, they focus on techniques and ideas. The guide for building a wood-fired hot tub discusses different types of tubs, such as old whiskey barrels, a pond liner and a dozen straw bales or a 400 gallon orange juice concentrate container, which is available from some agricultural supply stores. It also offers different suggestions for heating your hot tub, such as using an ordinary household radiator over a fire pit or building a fire directly under the tub. A third method involves building a fire right inside the hot tub by installing a snorkel stove in it. Information on insulation, hygiene and safety is also provided.
Many homemade hot tubs are small and they may not have jets. J. Kelly McCoy’s website describes how she made a tub big enough for a large party. It also has 22 jets. McCoy’s hot tub cost about $1,200 when she built it in 2005, and she provides tips on how and where to find inexpensive parts. Her website includes pictures illustrating each step, and she describes how to install the jets and plumbing, too. However, you’ll need to have a basic knowledge of electricity because she doesn’t include wiring schematics.
Homesteading author Robert C. Herman's website describes how to build a cheap hot tub that uses less than 60 gallons of water. His tub is solar powered and cost him about $100 to build, along with some recycled hardware. According to Herman, if you have basic plumbing and building skills, you can build this hot tub. He uses a 100-gallon poly stock Rubbermaid tank that’s just big enough to fit two people, if they don’t mind being cozy. Larger tanks are also available. He includes a drawing, along with a description of how to build a thermosyphoning water heater. He addresses subjects such as where to site your solar collector and how to insulate your tub.