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Old 10-29-2015   #1
jimr's Avatar
Donkey Town, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 144
Portable water heater/hot tub

Anyone have experience using a propane portable water heater on a grand trip? Looking for the highest out put of water/heat, and most durable. Looking for one that would be able to possibly fill a blow up kiddie pool for a hot tub. Anyone have experience doing this?

Any other simple/easy options for a hot tub on the grand? Also considering the wall tent/ wood burning stove sauna option.

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Old 10-29-2015   #2
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Steamboat, Colorado
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Posts: 887
Makeshift Riverside Hot Tub???

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Old 10-29-2015   #3
Down River Equipment's Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 163
You might want to reach out to Jack's Plastic Welding ( I believe they built some "tubs" for a guy that is making a portable hot tub. Not sure how portable the heater unit is, but it maybe worth exploring.
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Old 10-29-2015   #4
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
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I've seen folks do this by making a copper coil, (maybe 20 feet of 1/2" copper tubing wrapped around a bucket) placing it in a fire and pumping water through it. They made a water trough hot tub (a metal 2 person deal) and it worked great. It was pretty simple - I believe they just used a drill attachment style pump, pumped water out of the river with it and then circulated it from the tub, trough the fire and back into the tub. took like an hour to get it too hot and had to add cold water.
Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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Old 10-29-2015   #5
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Donkey Town, Colorado
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Right on guys thanks

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Old 10-29-2015   #6
Colorado Plateau Metropolis, Colorado
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Zodi Portable Instant Hot Shower | Shower Accessories | Free Shipping* on Orders over $100 |

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Old 10-29-2015   #7
Great Falls, Montana
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Hot Tub Hammock

hot tub hammock?
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Old 10-29-2015   #8
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Boise, Idaho
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I have a zodi shower, you'd go through like 20lbs of propane to heat a tub of water. it's okay for a shower, after you've recirculated it in the same 20 gallon bin for 30 minutes or so to get it to where you have a decent temp for a shower. for a hot tub, you'd just burn way too much propane for way too long to get it up to temp. if they had more tubing and a bigger heater it might work better.
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Old 10-29-2015   #9
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
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I have made several portable hot tubs over the years, from 4 person to 20 persons. Wood fired or propane fired. The biggest challenge is that it takes a long time and a lot of BTU's to heat several 100 gallons of water.
This makes them impractical for overnight camping, multiple days at the same site are OK, but way too long to setup for an overnighter.

The 4 person unit was fastest startup. Heated by a very efficient burner unit salvaged from a propane tankless water heater with an electric pump to circulate water. It needed 2.5 - 20 lbs propane bottles and a little over 8 hours to come to full heat (105 degrees) starting with water (52 degrees) The big 20 seater was wood fired and burned an entire cord of wood to get to temp in about 24 hours.

You might consider a sauna instead. An old canvas wall tent with a small stove and a pan of rocks will heat up in under 20 minutes.
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Old 10-29-2015   #10
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
I did a little 'back of the envelope' calculations and wish to modify my previous post. While I never achieved these results, based on the raw numbers it may be possible.

This of example assumes 100% efficiency in the heater and no radiant or convective heat losses which is not really possible.

assuming a 4' x 4' x 30" tall tub = 40 cu ft of water
40 cu ft x 62.4 = 2496 lbs of water
1 BTU = the heat required to heat 1 lbs water +1 degree F
assume water starts at 52 degrees F heated to 105 degrees: delta T = 53

2496 lbs of water x 53 degrees = 132,288 BTU

a blaster stove produces 65,000 BTU/hr, so if you could capture all of the heat you could be tubing in a little over 2 hours

a really full 20 lb bottle of propane has 366,000 BTU's, enough to do it 2x.
(note: most bottles only get filled about 75%, unless they are bleed during filling which rarely happens)

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