The Wooden Bathtub: Health, Magic & A Deeper Kind of Clean

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The Wooden Bathtub: Health, Magic & A Deeper Kind of Clean

A good bath can be a transcendent experience. It can be almost womb-like. A bath should be cleansing, healing and restorative. Pains, stresses and toxins all drain into that warm soup of our troubles. They are left behind in the water. They go down the drain.


Unfortunately, the material characteristics of many bath tubs offsets the benefits of a bath.


The most common example is the brittle feel of ceramic tubs. Ceramics vibrate at high frequencies, which can be a little unsettling and even a bit harsh. Ceramic musical instruments have never caught on.


Far worse are the increased use of plastic tubs. These leach petrochemical toxins into the water. When baths are taken in these, one can absorb worse chemicals than one releases and leaves behind. As for how well plastics handle sound, well, plastic musical instruments aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, either.


Trees provide an organic material, one that has far better acoustical qualities than the others. A bath in a wooden tub integrates one into a deeper state of becoming clean. This is partly because the pliable structure of wood diffuses many sounds which could disturb a bath.


Additionally, the smell of wood, especially when activated by water, can bring a deep renewal of spirit to the bath. Exploring the sacred sense of their scents may provide a connection to one’s ancestors, as well as to subtle messages from the spirits of the forest.


Rivas had the recent pleasure of receiving a display model for the store and installing a wooden tub in their home from Zen Bath Works. Each type of wooden tub made by Zen Bath Works provides a uniquely beneficial bathing experience. 



There are three woods that are used in the making of the wooden bathtubs:


Western red cedar [Thuja plicata] is a very popular species of cypress {Genus Cupressaceae] that has a long history of being commonly mistaken for a cedar. It is native from southern coast of Alaska through coastal areas of of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and northern California. The easternmost part of its native range extends into mid-Alberta and northern Idaho, though it was later planted across southern Canada, the UK, Australia and NZ.. Also known as giant arborvitae, it is able to reach 180 to 200 feet in height, though in cultivation it is typically 50 -70 feet in height with a spread of 15 to 25 feet. The form is grand and imposing, a soaring pyramid with strongly horizontal branches. It commonly lives over a thousand years, the oldest verified at 1,460 years. Crushing a piece of the foliage between the fingers gives a scent reminiscent of fresh pineapple. Its natural environment is along rivers and bogs, but it will tolerate some droughts, as well as acid or alkaline soils. Thus, the wood is very resistant to damage from either hard or soft water, also handles dry conditions, making it an excellent choice for a bathtub. The lush and attractive deep-green foliage provide excellent shelter for birds and small mammals. The short branches do not spread out and damage surrounding trees, yet themselves are very tolerant of the shade from others. All of these qualities cause them to be excellent ‘nurse’ trees in the forest. It was traditionally believed that this wood presents the qualities of sweetness, warmth and purity. The long-term effects were said to move one toward propriety, fairness. cleanliness, modesty, adaptivity, and protectiveness.



Hinoki [Chamaecyparis obtusa, called jo-syu in Japan] a species of cypress [Genus Cupressaceae] from Japan. A slow-growing tree which grows to 35 meters tall with a trunk up to 1 meter in diameter. The tree possesses many of the qualities of the giant arborvitae, above, and it yields a very high quality timber. In Japan, where it is used as a material for building palaces, temples, shrines, traditional noh theatres, baths, etc.. Over 200 cultivars now exist, some were developed for Bonsai. The wood is lemon-scented, light pinkish-brown, with a rich, straight grain, and is highly rot-resistant. Horyuji Temple and Osaka Castle are built from Hinoki wood. In Japan, a bath in a tub made of Hinoki wood is said to have the effects of improving cellular metabolism, removing toxins and increasing circulation. The baths are used in Japan for medicinal therapy, used to treat stiffness, soreness and weakened conditions, e.g., rheumatism, lumbago, etc..



Teak [Tectona grandis, from Tamil/Malayalam word thekku] is one of the tropical hardwood birches, included in the Vervain family Verbenaceae, and can grow to 30-40 meters. The Teak tree typically lives to an age of 100 years. Teak is especially noted for its capacity to easily withstand damage from changes in the weather and season. It is extremely flexible in its ability to bend to, and remain untroubled by, very high winds. It also contains large amounts of special resin and an oil in its heartwood that is highly water resistant. These give the tree an unusual level of protection from decay, insects, and bacteria. They also give the wood an unusually smooth texture and visual gleam – it can seem to glow. Native to India, Myanmar (Burma), and Thailand, it has been planted in Africa, Central America, and South America. The tree is not found near the coast; the most valuable forests are on low hills. The older the Teak tree, the better will be the quality of its wood. Before cutting the Teak tree, the water content must be drained from the tree by making a cut at its underside. This draining process takes time, 1 to 2 years, in order to get the Teak tree dry enough that it can be cut into Teak wood. Teak timber is valued in warm countries principally for its extraordinary durability. In India and Myanmar, beams of the wood in good preservation are often found in buildings many centuries old, and teak beams have lasted in palaces and temples more than 1,000 years. Teak objects are still intact that are two thousand years old. Teak wood has amazing relationships with light, sound and spirit. It is one of the most beautiful, long lasting and acoustically pleasing materials in the world. It is also one of the most expensive. The use of teak wood furnishings are traditionally believed to enhance one’s charm, grace, good fortune, physical attractiveness and wealth.


So why a wooden bathtub?


Your experience in a wooden bathtub goes above and beyond a bath without leaching chemicals. The traditional Japanese bathing experience takes you to a deeper purity. Sound, touch, smell and pure clean water: relaxation for all your senses.