Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Creation of a Spa Bath

Hello everyone.  I am alive, no worries.  Just been busy recently doing many things here like constructing a composting toilet, making cornhole (yay games), clearing out storage in Thames to save some cash for the trust, weeding, mulching, planting, hiking, fishing, and bonfires.  But a lot of energy has been spent making a spa bath here which works in a totally unique way that I thought I'd like to highlight here.

First thing, we need a big ol' bath tub to have our spa bath in.  We chose a spot right by the gazeebo that is near my tent, and started digging a hole.  Next was to make a frame to hold the tub and also create a deck around it that joined up to the gazeebo.  I may have mentioned before, but it was interesting building a structure on non-level ground. Something I had never thought of before was to drive big posts into the ground (or even auger out holes to put in even bigger posts) and then attach the main supports to these posts so that it is all level.  Then we added joysts between the inner and outer frame which gave us a complete frame to put the decking wood onto.  Below is a picture of the tub and deck all completed (minus the bench seats that Nico and I added on later).

The next part of this spa bath is to have some way to hold and heat up a whole lot of hot water.  Here, there is an unexhaustable source of firewood, so we made a fire pit!  We also got a 1600 Liter vat to hold the water.  I learned a whole lot about concreting and brick laying in this part.  A hole was dug into the side of a little hill to make a flat area to have the firepit.  We mixed and poured concrete into the bottom to make a level ground to build the walls up from.  We then built walls on three sides to support the huge vat, and added a concrete pipe as a chimney in the back.  And vuallah! a cheap way to heat tons of water.  

The fireplace and vat are uphill of the tub so that when the water is hot and ready, we can open the valve to let water flow down.  We used 50mm alkathene piping (I dunno if it is called something else in the US, but it is a black barely flexible plastic tube).  There are valves both at the vat and at the tub so that we can have control at either end of the water flow.  Once you are in the bath sometimes it is good to top up with some more hot water without having to get out.  It was a bit of a puzzle to get all the fittings together and get it all connected, but once we did, we were ready to have a bath!

Since we've been a bit short on rain (and hence water at the house) we filled up a tank of water from the river on the land and pumped it into the vat.  It took about an hour and a half of having a fire in the new pit to get the water up to about 140 degrees F.  Then with the gravity feed and the 50mm (2") piping, it took only about 3 minutes to fill almost the whole tub!  We even had to mix in some cold water cause it was too hot!

Then finally, enjoy :)
There are some tarata leaves in there which is the New Zealand lemonwood.  It makes the bath smell all nice. Also in the background there are the benches in their finished state.  As far as I know we are the only people who have a spa bath (or hot tub) set up in this fashion, but it works great here and costs very little.

I've got some more pictures of the whole building process up on my picasa site:


  1. Nice work, it looks sweet! You becoming a carpenter?

  2. Getting there, wait till you see the composting toilet I'm working on. I'll post something about that once its finished. Nicole says "Dave does look like Jebus"

  3. Haha, awesome. I say hi to Nicole. Hope to meet her sometime soon.
    PS- If you want the stash back, you can use vasoline (or the kiwi equivalent) for snorkeling expeditions.

  4. Never thought of that to keep the stash. I like the beard more than the stash though, so it's no biggie for me to trim it occasionally.