Making a Wood Fired Bath Tub

imageimageimageimageimageLiving off the grid is challenging and having a tub to soak in is paramount to health. We have a perennial spring that moves pretty fast so I wanted to utilize it for water. It’s at the base of our property near the creek, which is about a 10 min walk from the woods where we tucked the yurt. I relished the possibility of having a place I could take a bath and relax, and a tub close to the spring, so close in fact that one can not only see the creek but also revitalize in the sound of its rapidly moving water. So we set out to do just that.

Looking online, there weren’t any detailed plans, so we had to make our own. We found a free steel tub one day as we were hunting for treasure at the Habitat for Humanity Restore (of course a cast iron claw foot or any large metal tank would work too). That set the pace for the entire project, which so far we have only spent $7 on (for the caulk and the drain and plug for the tub as ours was missing one).

First we chose the site. As I said, I wanted it close to the water for the ease of getting water to the tub and also for the added benefit of the sweet environment water habitats provide. I chose a spot nestled between two rocks, proving that one can do this project just about anywhere. Flat ground may be easier, but because I bermed one side that saved me some cob fill. When choosing a site, think about how you’ll get water to it and the amount of flow around the tub (preferably not in a busy social area, so you can an soak up the peace and quiet while there).

Next I dug out of the side of the sloping earth to make a level site and dug about a foot beneath the surface of the ground. I did this so I could assure a level spot for the tub’s 4 corners. And because I planned on setting stones under the four corners and pouring gravel amidst that as a type of foundation, I wanted it low enough to just reach level after I set the tub.

Once the site was excavated, I found a host of similarly sized foundation stones and put them in the four corners of the excavation site. I filled in the spots between the stones forming a parallel channel. Of course, you want to have a channel for the fire’s heat to flow under the tub, so leave ample space (I left about a 6 in wide gap, also about 6 in high). Then I filled the space between the earth and the stones with gravel and cemented it in with a cob mixture (mix 2 part sand, one part clay, and depending on how wet your clay is, add water to make a stiff dough consistency) (also, there are many other sites you can research cob and how to find out more about making a good mix so I won’t go into that here. If, in the end, your cob doesn’t turn out right: fear not, add water and make it again. This is such a fun building project because its harkens back to your childhood days of playing with mud in the woods making pies. Mmmm!).

 

Letting that dry, I dug out the middle channel a little deeper. Once dry, I set the tub on the cobbed stone foundation and checked for level. We decided to allow a bit of slope toward the drain, to make sure the water would drain easily. When we eventually started filling the tub, we found that we made more of a slope than we realized and thought this may be a mistake. But as we filled the tub with water, we found that the side on the up-slope (also where the fire is, so definitely not where we are sitting) not having as high of water level as the down slope was just fine because our feet were there and so it was inconsequential that the water wasn’t high. Slope is flexible.

After setting the tub, I filled in the bermed side’s gaps with more cob, also using rocks as filler. Using rather large rocks, to small stones saved me from having to make more cob. The point here is to of course make a seal to trap the fire chamber that runs beneath the tub. One can also use cob to build up around the tub to provide thermal mass = keeping your tub water warmer for longer!

I filled in the other side with cob as well, and then set to placing the stove pipe. I chose to put a 6 in diameter pipe 2 ft long half under the tub, fit it with an elbow connecting with a 5 ft pipe going up. 5 ft is a good length (or even longer) to make sure you get sufficient draw from the fire. Essential for warming the underside of the tub!

I cobbed this in, again using small rocks also, to produce a good seal to close off the fire chamber. Smoke, like water, finds a place to escape if there are any gaps, making your firing less efficient! If there are any gaps, simply add more cob! Easy!

For the drain pipe, I cobbed the stove pipe near it to try to buffer any heat from blasting the rubber stopper in the drain. For now, we have a slanted rock beneath the drain, channeling water away from under the tub. Eventually we need to fit a metal pipe (able to withstand the heat) and channel the water farther away from the tub, but for now it flows into a gravel bed.

Next is the fire box. On the other side of the tub we are edged right up to a big rock so we have a vertical drop fire box (the only way ours would fit). Of course, if you have more room, you can make a firing area right beneath the tub. We used larger rocks to make the fire box and set and cemented them with cob. It worked beautifully and the fire drew beneath the tub just fine. The fire took about an hour to heat the water, at which point it almost got too hot. I’m sure we’ll get the hang of this over time. One thought is to get in the tub perhaps before it is sufficiently warm because it will certainly continue heating! 🙂 Make sure you collect enough fire wood and set it close to the tub because you’re not going to want to get out and gather part way through your bathing experience.

Also, put a piece of wood (with some small holes drilled through it, so it doesn’t float) on the bottom of the tub, as the metal will get really hot!

The main points are making sure you have a good cob mixture (again you can research this all over the Internet), having a solid foundation for the tub to rest on, making sure your end stove pipe is long enough to make sure you get a good draw, and sealing off the fire chamber with cob. The possibilities are endless as far as aesthetics (making shapes and designs in the cob surrounding the tub and adding stones, etc), placement of tub and what kind of tub, and what type of fire chamber you decide to do.

Hope this helps for anyone endeavoring to make a wood fired cob tub! Happy relaxation 🙂

 

 

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mission statement

what did you come here to do?

i came here to remind them of earth beauty. 

high alpine lake in peru, so high you can drink out of it,lapping like a dog

high alpine lake in peru, so high you can drink out of it,lapping like a dog

cordillera blanca trek, central peru

cordillera blanca trek, central peru

peru 1137

farmed terraces on the island of amantani on lake titicaca, South America

15 Days of Writing Prompts: Day 8 ~ Leaving

Welcome to 15 Days of Writing Prompts. Today we’re on Day 8; congrats you’ve completed half of them 🙂 Keep writing…

“Write about “leaving.” Approach it any way you want. Write about your divorce, leaving the house this morning, or a friend dying.” (from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones)

medicine people, new and old

As in times of old, the people went to the doctors for their ills. Yet, as time would have it, in keeping step with modern life, the face of the doctor has changed much. You see, it used to be there was a woman sitting out beneath the oaken sheath. She’d sit there all day in yonder field, sewing, milking her one goat fair, making cheese, or spinning an old yarn for the children who came by after school. It’was like this in the olden days. Whereas now, the old man you go to see in a sterile room doesn’t know your family, doesn’t have a goat or sheep and himself is harboring a cold from spending all his time indoors and is sick from false air.

‘Tis no surprise that it’s ended up in this way, my kin, but it is a shame if you ask me. With the new modern white-coat, who beat out the old hag long ago, many of the finest things about country medicine have been lost in those times, too. Many aides are lost in this sterility. Before, the midwife would come tromping over on a horse, she’d sit with ya while you were ill and she’d bring her knapsack of herbs picked from her very own garden. But now, we again have ‘em in white lab coats making medicines in glass beakers. ‘Tis nothing wrong with this, in fact, it’s an advancement in many ways. Yet, what’s fallen out in the middle of this great divide has a lot to do with bedside manner and accessibility.

You see, along with that there midwife having the keys to yer healing in her own garden, she’d share somma those seeds with you, too. And that very plant which did grow in your very garden then, was the same plant that healed ya last year. She’d’ve taught ya how to use it and so you knew that and could pass it on. It became the medicine of the house, the medicine spreading everywhere it’s needed. Try to do that with a beaker drug! No, in that way this current medical system makes us dependent.  And when someone’s dependent, it’s true that they become helpless in some way. Use to be people knew how to take care of themselves and pass on the healing knowledge, but now it’s relegated to ol white gown in his white sterile room.

The dependency isn’t doing good things for our society, you see. Yes, it saves lives and makes some a great deal better, but a lot falls through the cracks, a whole lot isn’t getting much better. And it’s this I’m writing about, this that needs a-pointing-to, cuz it’s easy to get swept up in “what is” and forget there could be somewheres better we can go. Medicine of the people, medicine of the earth, the old white coats make a fear factor about the herbs, but they’re the traditional allies of what cures.

15 Days of Writing Prompts: Day 7~ BeLoved Place

Welcome to Day 7 of 15 Days of Writing Prompts! Here’s the prompt for today from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones,

“Visualize a place that you really love, be there, see the details. Now write about it. It could be a corner of your bedroom, an old tree you sat under one whole summer, a table at McDonald’s in your neighborhood, a place by a river. What colors are there, sounds, smells? When someone else reads it, she should know what it is like to be there. She should feel how you love it, not by your saying you love it, but by your handling of the details.”

Mmm a good one; enjoy!

special place, created space, wild magic of nature~~

i was standing there on the mound as the sun set. an orange glow sprinkled through the leaves onto my shoulders, illuminating the place i was standing. i looked down at the ground and saw the sea shells i put there. it is now a sacred place, full of woman’s wisdom, full moon magic, special intention. it was a place i have released my soul and i feel its magic as i stand there.

the wild oregano, thyme, wild mint.. none of it can be contained here in the suburbs. these are wild ancient herbs that grow up from the earth after tapping roots down, gently, firmly, branching beneath the surface of the earth. this is now a magical space. i have created a magical space and from that initial act of creation, it creates itself again and again. the echinacea, soft pink petals, spiky brown centers; medicine root taps beneath. the wild columbine, standing tall, spread branches with seed carriers fronding out. the wood sorrel, the strawberry, the daisy, sweet sweet flowers of life. all contained here on the hill with sacred transported rock and stone, sea shell fragment and full piece.

this is a woman’s space, this is a healing place. this is a created place, now with a wild face. 

Day 6, How Morning Yoga Helps Me Grow

“Give me your morning. Breakfast, waking up, walking to the bus stop. Be as specific as possible. Slow down in your mind and go over the details of your morning.”

i opened my eyes. i was still laying down and i had to pee. when i did, my pee was clearer than usual. i didn’t want to get out of bed quickly, but i knew my morning would be rushed if i didn’t. i turned the shower on and climbed in, my hair was up in a bun as to not get wet. it didn’t get wet, but i lathered my body all over with bronner’s soap, scrubbing here and there and then i rinsed. after i got out, i applied my apple cider vinegar and tea tree mixture on as i have done for the last 16 days in efforts to make my skin uninhabitable to tinea versicolor, a persistent fungus thats’ on everyone’s skin, but can really take advantage during hot months or if people have weakened immune systems.

i’m happy to say that the tinea is mostly relieved of its duty to take over my skin. after putting my clothes on, i went downstairs to make my liver purification drink from Farida Sharan’s book Herbs of Grace. I discovered Farida online while reading herbalism articles and, as I am in a transition looking at possible next steps, I got Farida’s book because I was also attracted to her school in Colorado and wanted to feel her and her teachings out more before I took any other steps. I’m finding her book, which under Herbs of Grace says Becoming Independently Healthy, a great tool in doing just that. It’s a real empowerment tool with a multitude of practical recipes/paradigms to infuse healing into all aspects of life.

The first recipe I tried was for liver purification and it includes eating 4-6 cloves of garlic blended with OJ (or grapefruit juice), cold pressed olive oil and lemon juice. I actually really like eating this first thing in the morning. I’m not sure how everyone else feels about it though, as I’m in the early stages and I am literally farting out pure eau de parfum of garlic 🙂 hehe … I ate this this morning and then had a cup of fenugreek, licorice root and fennel tea, as recommended in the book to aid digestion, sooth the stomach and mask the breath a bit! I’m not sure if it’s doing that.

Next I dropped Ini off at work and continued my drive to the spot at the nature preserve. I read some of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and was inspired by the question she posed, What are you deep deep dreams? As I did my morning yoga on the platform there, I felt great gratitude for life rushing through me as I let this question rest in the back of my mind. One thing I’d like to do is to help/empower people make the changes they want to make in their life. The beauty of the morning sun, the sweet clear breeze, bird song and environment of plants and trees bristling in the wind welled up inside of me. I thought of some wisdom from Farida’s book along the lines of creating an inner environment of such peace that outward circumstances aren’t able to easily shake it.

My body started to feel long and lithe. I practiced releasing some tension in my hamstrings, which have always been notoriously tight. Today, when i was in the yoga position, Plow, I lengthened my legs and told them, I will hold this position until you stop shaking. Here’s something I wrote this morning as I recollected my yoga practice:

And I held myself there until my legs shook. I knew I could go all the way with it. My body delighted in the challenge, in the edge, in the growth. I remembered then how healthy that is for me. To stretch, to feel my ligaments met with their own tension, to hold it and breathe into it. It felt so good. It felt like life. Like the breath of life was moving into my dark places, illuminating my places of pain, fear, holding and scaredness. I’ve pushed myself a lot in life. I haven’t always had the awesome powerful love I have now (or I haven’t always known that I have it). It makes all the difference, stretching and pushing myself from my own ground, from my own center — instead of being perpetually pulled off kilter. 

I held my legs until they stopped shaking. As they shook, I said, I’ll hold you until you stop shaking. Shortly thereafter I felt an energy rise through my whole body and exit through my crown. The shaky energy left. I felt my left IT band pulsating a long bridge-like throb. My body feels strong in these early hours. The yoga, stretches, breathing are all very healing for me; I intent to continue making space for myself and the things I love.”