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Frequently Asked Questions
about our Underwater Woodstoves

Q How do your underwater woodstoves work?

A Operation of Snorkel® and Scuba® Stoves is very simple and is exactly like a fireplace or wood stove. Lay a fire in the bottom of the stove starting with crumpled paper, then small pieces of kindling, then small/split firewood. Simply touch a match to the paper at the bottom by the air intake. Place stove door so the air intake is fully open; the fire will begin to draw immediately.

Q How do you control the heat?

A You control the rate of burn by regulating the airflow to the fire. This is done by sliding the stove door across air intake or "snorkel.” A damper is also used to regulate the burn rate of the fire. When the water gets within 10 degrees of tubbing temperature (101°-104°), adding a final, normal fuel load should be sufficient to warm the tub to temperature. When the water gets to your desired temperature, slide the door over the air intake so it’s almost closed, making the fire burn very slowly. If you’ve installed a damper in the chimney, you can use that along with the stove door to fine-tune the rate of burn.

Q Freezing Weather — Wood-Fired Hot Tubs

A The Snorkel Stove was invented in and designed for the cold temperatures of Fairbanks, Alaska and it and our hot tubs work well in very cold climates. How you deal with a wood-fired hot tub in very cold weather depends on your usage pattern and whether or not electricity is available. If you are using it at least once a week you should be fine in all except the most extreme weather as the water (with appropriate covers) shouldn't lose more than about 15-18 degrees per day in all except the most extreme weather. You do, however, want to avoid having the entire tub freeze solid as that will most likely damage the bottom boards.

If you will be leaving your tub untended for extended periods of time in sub-freezing weather, here are some things you can do to prevent damage to the tub from freezing:

  • If you have electricity, a stock tank heater is the most simple, inexpensive and effective solution to keep the tub from freezing.
  • If water availability is not an issue, drain all but 4-5 inches or so and just let that freeze and refill when you return. The few inches of ice won't hurt the tub and will help keep the tub bottom and base of the staves (the walls of the tub) "seasoned". When you are ready to use the tub simply top it off and fire up the stove.
  • If water to refill the tub is an issue you can anchor 8-10 floating empty plastic milk jugs at varying levels in the tub. When the water freezes and expands the milk jugs will act as shock absorbers so the tub isn't damaged. This approach is most useful when water to refill the tub is a problem.
  • If you do not drain the tub and notice a few inches of ice on the tub surface, just start up a small fire, and let the stove heat slowly. You can allow several inches of ice to form on the surface of the tub without doing any damage.
  • If the tub does happen to freeze completely, caution is advised. You can melt the ice by starting a fire, but a fast burning fire quickly melts the ice around the stove. The water can then boil away exposing the stove to air which will cause the aluminum to melt. Without water surrounding the stove it could melt. We recommend adding some water to the top of the frozen surface while melting the ice. You should try and heat your tub up at least once a week, and of course, heating it up means you get to enjoy it, too.
  • Some owners with tubs at cabins where there is no water available during winter months leave their tubs full, but secure with a rope a large, partially inflated inner tube to the bottom of the tub. This allows the inner tube to take the stress of the expanding ice so that the tub is not damaged. (The inner tube needs to be completely submerged near or at the bottom of the tub).

Q How long do your stoves last?

A Because they are water-cooled, Snorkel and Scuba stoves will last indefinitely but you need to make sure to keep rain water out of the stove: it can combine with the ashes to form a caustic acid that can eat through the stove.

Q What size and kind of wood do your stoves use?
A You can use pretty much any type of wood as long as it has not been chemically treated with preservatives etc. Standard cordwood split one additional time is good for optimal burning/heating. Lengths the stoves can handle are as follows:

Snorkel Scuba
Flat across the bottom 26"  21"
Diagonally bottom to top 38" 30"

Q Can you move the tubs?

A The tubs can be easily moved if there are no hydrotherapy jets mounted and there is room to maneuver it. Simply drain it, remove the fence and chimney (wood fired systems), tip it on its side, and roll it. Two adult males should be able to maneuver a dry 5’ or 6’ tub. Three or more make it easier and are necessary for larger tubs. Using a couple of planks, it can easily be rolled into the back of a pickup truck and transported when tightly secured. If you have a jetted tub, remove the jets and hoses before rolling.

Q How long do the tubs last?

A Our tubs should last 15-18 years with reasonable care and maintenance. Misuse of chemicals and allowing the tub to go through cycles of holding water then drying out completely can significantly shorten its life.

Q Any special considerations before I purchase a gas or electric Snorkel Hot Tub?

A If you are considering a gas or electric-heated system, please call us as there can be several things to consider in your planning and decision-making process. Examples include gas and/or electric supply capacity, high altitude burners for elevations over 2,000 feet, low nitrous oxide burner requirements for Texas and Southern California.

Q How do you keep the water clean?

A Many of our wood-fired tub owners opt for Japanese-style tubbing: they drain the tub after a couple of uses, give it a quick cleaning, and refill it. Other wood-fired tub owners leave their tubs filled and add chlorine or bromine. Those who wish to avoid these old standbys use alternative sanitizers like our Instant Ions or the Ahh Natural Spa Pad. Our gas and electric heated tubs have automatic full spectrum (copper, silver and zinc) ionizers as standard equipment.

Q Where can I get the Adobe Acrobat Reader program to open .pdf files?

A You can download the free Acrobat Reader at Adobe.com.

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