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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 How do the tubs do in cold climates? Will they freeze?

A Our tubs were created in Alaska for hot tubbing in that harsh climate. Roger Evans came up with the concept and brought it to fruition while a physics student at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. There are three ways to deal with freezing when you leave your tub untended in sub-freezing temperatures for an
extended period:

  • If electricity is available, many owners swear by using electric stock tank heaters to keep their tub from freezing.
  • Next best is to drain the tub, leaving about 4-6 inches of water in the bottom. That small amount of water won’t damage the tub when it freezes and will help keep the boards seasoned.
  • The last resort is only for when you don’t want to drain your hot tub, for example if there is no fresh water supply available. Leave it filled and anchor air-filled plastic milk jugs at various levels or an inner tube near the floor of the tub to allow space for ice to expand into. The sidewalls of the tub can usually withstand expansion forces, but as the water freezes from the top down, the forces from the latter stages of freeze expansion are concentrated on the bottom boards. They are likely to break if there’s no room for expansion. Note, trying to thaw a 500 gallon block of ice is a slow, tedious process and must be done with a very slow fire. If you build a hot fire in the stove it will melt the ice surrounding the stove, then boil away the water and melt the stove.

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

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