Creating a Wood-Fired Hot Tub in Your Backyard with Help from TikTok DIY

Creating a Wood-Fired Hot Tub in Your Backyard with Help from TikTok DIY

Soaking in a hot tub can provide several benefits, including stress relief, pain relief, and improved cardiovascular health. It’s no surprise that hot tubs are popular investments. The cost of a standard hot tub can range from $2,000 to $11,000, with an average cost of around $6,000 according to Angi’s List. However, the cost of the hot tub doesn’t include the electric or gas bill, maintenance costs, or repairs required to keep your hot tub in good working condition. Besides, you’ll need to learn how and when to shock your hot tub to avoid it becoming a bacteria-laden spa. For some people, the benefits of a hot tub outweigh the cost and effort required to maintain it. What if we told you that you could build an affordable, easy-to-maintain, and completely off-grid hot tub with a simple TikTok hack?

If you’re dreaming of soaking in a hot tub under the stars this summer without breaking the bank, you don’t have to invest in a high-tech hot tub. A TikTok video shared by Sydney Emett (@Lifesrad) shows how she and her husband, Alex Emett, built their wood-fired hot tub. Here’s how they did it, the questions they answered along the way, and the science behind the hot water magic.

Grab a coil kit and a container


We Built a Hot Tub Just In Time For Winter. We LOVE IT & Can Take It Anywhere! #woodfirehotub #stocktankhottub #diyhomeprojects

♬ Forever Noah Kahan 2.9 – Noah Kahan

In their viral TikTok video, Sydney and Alex Emett are seen stacking pave stones to create a fire pit around a large steel coil. Their steel coil kit with tub attachments was purchased for about $650 from Salty Barrel Hot Tubs, an Australian-based company specializing in portable, wood-fired hot tubs. Of course, any thick steel coil would likely work for this simple wood-fired hot tub hack, as long as the metal itself is durable enough to withstand high heat — Salty Barrel’s coil is made with 304-grade stainless steel. “The only tools we needed were pliers to get the fittings on, a screwdriver to tighten the hose clamps, and then a drill for the inlet and outlet,” explained Alex (via TikTok).

The heating coil system can be attached to nearly any large, heat-safe container or Salty Barrel’s portable hot tub base. In the TikTok, Alex and Sydney use a 170-gallon CountyLine brand tub, which can be purchased for about $199.99 at Tractor Supply Co. Alex attaches the water inlet and outlet hoses to the barrel by drilling two perfectly sized holes, then uses the attachments included with the kit to make the seal watertight. After filling the tub with water and lighting a fire inside the fire pit, steam can be seen rising from the tub as the two happily hop in! As a charming bonus, the fire also provides nice ambient lighting and extra nearby warmth for moonlight soaks.

Cool science and hot safety tips

Wood fire hot tub system

Salty Barrel Hottubs

This DIY luxurious hot tub is surprisingly eco-friendly and affordable, but how does it work? And is it safe? The hot tub doesn’t use electricity or natural gas to heat the water; it doesn’t even need a pump to push the water through the coil. Instead, the system relies on a scientific phenomenon called thermosyphoning. Cold water naturally settles at the bottom of the tub, where it flows in through the water inlet and into the large metal coil. Fire heats the water, which causes it to rise through the coil, getting hotter and hotter as it goes. When it flows back out through the water outlet, it pulls more cold water into the coil behind it, and the process repeats!

One potential downside to the setup is that it can take a while for the water to heat — roughly 1 to 2 hours for a tub of the Emetts’ size. Some folks may also worry about the water getting too hot due to the lack of temperature controls, but as Alex explains (via TikTok), “It’s not like we’re boiling this thing. It’s literally just 105 to 110 degrees.” The couple also keeps a cold water hose nearby to lower the temperature inside the tub if needed. Of course, once the water is warm, you can also douse the fire to stop the thermosyphoning process. Cleaning the tub is also easy and chemical-free; drain, wipe, and cover it when not in use.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.