The history of hot tubs

The fascinating origins of cedar hot tubs.

Throughout the ages, especially since the days of ancient Rome, people have loved the calm pleasures and therapeutic benefits of soaking in warm water. People, everywhere, feel an affinity with water and love to engage in the simple pleasures of soaking. The Romans were brilliant in popularizing recreational activities around water and tubs and to this very day, we are all very aware of the healing effects of warm water. Barrelmaking or cooperage goes back thousands of years. It is an age-old tradition and cooperage is still appreciated, today, for storing liquids such as wines and spirits.

Very early on, cedar and oak were used for their natural resistance to decay and the way the wood expands when soaked. Cooperage ushered in the earliest forms of those wonderful hot tubs.

The 1970s literally burst upon the home leisure scene and plastics became the new woods. Confusing though this was, people lost no time in forgetting all about beautiful, natural woods. If you heard the word “spa”, the words “hot tub” would soon to follow. People were just beginning to get used to the luxury of a good soak, even at home. Although people tried to become accustomed to the new ‘wood’, for many of them, this notion simply didn’t take off.  They wanted the feel and properties of real wood and nothing but the real thing would do. Wood was welcomed back whole-heartedly and people, everywhere, relished the joys of hot tubbin again.

Northern Lights hot tub at the Aman Le Melezin Hotel

Northern Lights has revisited the age-old tradition of cooperage (barrelmaking) and combined it with the up to date manufacturing technologies of the twenty-first century. We are very proud to be among the world’s finest cedar hot tub artisans.You will honestly not find a better-made tub. We use only Clear Western Red Cedar. If you have ever seen this type of wood before, then you know how gorgeous it is. We have very high standards. You  need not give a thought to decay because you won’t ever get any. Resistance to decay has long been the strong point of cedar wood. You will love its aroma ! You will feel so calm and relaxed. The cedar’s aroma is a favourite around the world.  With regard to its durability, the Clear Western Red offers a porous structure that ensures your water remains where it needs to be – inside your hot tub. It also boasts of having among the highest insulating values of most common woods. We provide our clients with the best in fine craftsmanship. We honor the time-tested art of barrelmaking by ensuring top quality precision with the help of Computer Aided Milling and Computer Aided Design. Working to tolerances of 1/64″, our state of the art Laser Guided Milling guarantees 100% accuracy. You simply won’t find better and our Quality Inspection Program means you receive a brilliant finished product that exceeds our high standards and those of our valued customers.

Northern Lights Hot Tubs have all the amenities of modern plastic spas (see our product specifications) including 2-stage pumps, electric, wood or gas heaters, spa controls, filter system (See Electric System), jets, and other options such as ozonators and digital top side control units. Traditional Chofu Wood Fire Heating Systems are available as an option for people living in cottages or remote locations. All our exact specifications meet your own higher standards for utility and home use. Why do our cedar tubs stand out, making them the obvious choice in spas? They are simply streets ahead of other spas, in terms of quality and workmanship. They are without exception favourites, both for ambience and for aromatherapy. No other natural wooden tub offers anything like it. Our tubs are almost 44″ deep (48″ high), which provides a unique buoyancy or floating effect. You will have a ball. You will experience the ultimate in relaxation. Try out our state of the art jets systems and the dizzying smell of Western Red Cedar and we know you will agree that the total package and outright pleasure of our wooden tubs will convince you in a heartbeat!

hot tub specifictionsNorthern Lights Cedar Hot Tubs have been popular among architects and designer as well as home owners, spas and world class resorts. It is our commitment to quality as well as our ongoing support both before and after every order that has made us the leaders in hot tub manufacturing. Today you can find our hot tubs on every continent. We have warehouses in both North America as well as in Europe to better service our customers.


The ancient art of healing the soul is part of the unique experience of a hot tub. The added depth and simplicity makes our tubs truly unique when compared to other plastic spas. The circular design makes our hot tubs a great place to gather with family and  friend(s) in a “round table” tradition.

Hydro Massage

With the option of powerful yet quiet jets, our hot tubs can provide both a spiritual healing as well as a more traditional spa hydrotherapy massage. We use powerful adjustable jets that sooth and gently massage the muscles and joints.

Environment Commitment

Our commitment is both to our customers as well as the environment. Northern Light’s (Lights) manufactures hot tubs using 100% sustainable forestry practices. You will not find our hot tubs in landfills and our hot tubs have the smallest manufacturing carbon footprint of any other style of the hot tub or plastic spa. Our high-efficiency heaters and pumps reduce operational costs. We pride ourselves in respecting our planet now, and in the future.


Our hot tubs are built on reliability, simplicity and longevity. We don’t make the hot tub with TV’s and fridges because this is not what our customers want. Instead we manufacture quality hot tubs that surpass our customer’s expectations. You will find all our hot tubs contain industry leading components from our pumps to our digital heaters.

Design Flexibility

A wooden hot tub has the distinct advantage of fitting almost any setting from small hot tubs, to outdoor hot tub! From standalone installations to deck integrations our tubs have no limits. Designers and home owners are always coming up with unique design installations that makes a hot tub truly unique. Just visit our design studio to see some of the more common installation as well as our photo gallery which has lots of award winning designs to stimulate the imagination!

Ofuro Tubs

Northern Lights oval ofuro tub

Ofuro Soaking Tubs originate from Japan where bathing is not just a bath but rather a spiritual ritual. The Ofuro bathing practice differs from North American and European bath tubs, Ofuro bath tubs are ‘zen’ like providing a sensual pleasure and a feeling of well-being and harmony with the natural surroundings, perhaps in a garden or spiritual landscape. Japanese bath tubs help to restore mental and spiritual well-being by providing a private relaxation space, and they promote good health by stimulating circulation.

The mechanics of an Ofuro Tub require a deep chin down soak which means the tub is a deeper tub than normal bath tubs. Traditionally Japanese soak in very hot water heated by means of a quiet non-electrical Wood Fired Hot Tub Heaters. The thick cedar construction of our Ofuro’s means that the tub will maintain its heat much longer than a regular tub. Our ‘Fuoro Tubs” are made of clear Western Red Cedar which is a close cousin to the traditional cypress wood used in Japan. Red Cedar has the distinct advantage of being naturally resilient to decay and bacteria. It also is known for its high insulating value. The pleasant aromatherapy of cedar heightens the experience! Our tubs use an architectural stainless steel strap system which allows the tub to naturally expand and contract with out worrying about the wood splitting.

Traditional Bathing Practice

The Japanese Soaking Tub bath meant much more that just getting oneself clean. After shedding one’s clothes and daily concerns, they then lathered, scrubbed and rinsed thoroughly before entering the tub. Once the body was clean, they then stepped into the Tub sinking slowly into the deep, pure and clean hot water. Soaking, submerged to the chin, it is a time for relaxation and contemplation. Soaps and shampoos are not typically used although mineral salts and light fragrant oils are often added.

Ofuro Tub Choices

Northern Lights Cedar Tubs manufactures two distinct styles of Ofuros. One is oval in shape that is perfect for a two person soaking hot tub, the other is a round round version (50″OD). All our Ofuro tubs have 25″ of interior height (30″ exterior height) which is an ideal depth to provide a full body soak while still being able to enjoy the visual surroundings.

Japanese soaking tubs can also be installed indoors. However because there is no liner, we suggest proper tiled floor drains or a shower basin be installed. Most people like their Japanese baths very hot so one should also consider proper ventilation . Garden or deck hot tubs settings require very little consideration other than heating method.

Two main stream heating choices are available including the traditional wood fired heater and our electric hot tub heating system. Ask the sales team if you desire to use a propane heater.

The electric hot tub heater comes with a quiet circulating pump, 1.4/5.5kWelectric heater with LCD controller and a 50sq.ft. filter. This system can be used for those that want to enjoy more of a traditional spa style usage without the frequent water changes and the tub is usable in the winter without the worry of pipes freezing.

The wood heated option uses our small Timberline wood heater. It allows the hot tub to be heated without having electricity available. When the grid power is available this system can further be uprade if desired with various electric heater options. With any of these you then gain the benefit of having the water filtered and keeping the water warm without constant attention to the fire. Such an addition is also recommended if the tub will be used in freezing weather.

All tubs come fully assembled with a standard center positioned stainless steel drain that connects to any 1 1/2″ PVC drain pipe (other positions available on request). Optional accessories include matching stairs, shelf, back rests, and insulated covers with child -proof locks.

These tubs can be heated in a variety of ways:

  1. Our electric heating system comes with a 1.4/5.5 KW Balboa digital spa pack and a 1/8 HP circulating pump & filter. This system allows bathers to control the temperature with the touch of a button. The filter system helps keep the water clean without the need for frequent draining. The kilowatts produced depends on the service voltage, 1.4 kW is produced with 120v service. We can also offer a higher end spa pack that produces 4 kW of heat and has advanced programming options as well as wireless remote control capabilities using an iPhone.
  2. Have Lots of free wood? Use our wood fired hot tub heater! Because of the smaller volume of water these tubs can be heated in about 1-2 hour, with only the cost of wood. No electricity is required, but because there is no filtering water will get murky faster and water will need to changed often.
  3. Have lots of free wood and have access to grid power? Use our wood fired hot tub heater and augment it with a pump and filter system to keep the water clear! Further consider the addition of an electric heater to the filter system so once you have heated the water with the wood heater you can keep the water at the desired temperature without constantly attending to the fire. The electric heaters vary from a simple inline heater to more sophisticated digital spa packs similar to those mentioned under choice 1. Filter and electric heat options is recommended when used in freezing weather.
  4. No grid power available and don’t like the work involved with wood? Consider a propane heater with a solar PV powered circulation pump. A propane heater requires a circulation pump. We can supply a very efficient pump that is powered off a small inverter, which in turn obtains its power from 24 VDC batteries charged by an 80W PV solar panel. A cold tub is heated in less than an hour.

Deep hot tub - Aquatherapy Tub

You asked for it, we designed it. The largest, deepest hot tub on the market! This hot tub stands 5 feet tall and is over 7 feet wide, this tub is designed specifically for therapeutic benefits. We designed this tub for two needs: Muscle Recovery and Muscle Rejuvenation.

Aqua Therapy

This hot tub is designed for customers that want more out of a hot tub. Until now hot tubs were limited in their ability to allow movement. The extra depth of this tub makes it ideal for aqua therapy. Yes “exercise” in a hot tub! Our specially designed aqua seat arrangement opens up the rest of the hot tub allowing a full range of aqua aerobics. You’re entire body can float in this tub. It is even possible to do simple swimming exercises such as treading water.
Northern Lights aquatherapy tub