Hot Tub Buying Guide
History of hot tub innovations
Humans have long enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of hot water. Early civilizations discovered the curative properties of natural hot springs. Though popular, hot springs were not always located conveniently. Spa resorts became popular making the springs travel destinations. Then we see how innovators carried this knowledge forward to transfer the benefits to man made hot tubs and baths that people can have in their own homes.
Bathing has a long history in many cultures. People bathe for reasons of cleanliness and health. We also see bathing as a cultural practice throughout the world and in many of the world's religions. Bathing was often practiced before ceremonies as an act of spiritual cleansing. Beyond bathing, we see the emergence of the commonly accepted therapeutic value of water.
The benefits of hydrotherapy have been known for thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered that ancient Egyptian pharaohs enjoyed granite tubs. Ancient Greeks and Romans understood the benefits and took advantage of the hot springs building elaborate structures around the springs to encourage use. Greeks enjoyed relaxing in the natural fresh water spas available there, as well as bathing in the salt water of the sea. The wealthier members of the ancient Greek society used private baths. There were also public baths dedicated to gods, which were viewed as sacred places. Hippocrates touted bathing as healthy and beneficial. Another Greek physician, Asclepiades recommended the use of bathing as therapeutic and preventative. The Romans also enjoyed thermal baths at natural mineral springs. Spa resorts were created for the recuperation of wounded soldiers, as well as for rest and recreation. Romans created huge public bathhouses with a variety of rooms of varying temperatures for many different treatments. One of these rooms was the hot room, the calidarium, with a hot water pool. Ancient Rome basked in bathing - there were baths in private homes, private bathhouses and public baths open to all. The benefits of baths can be read of in the writings of Homer and Plato.
The popularity of bathing suffered in Europe during the Dark Ages to re-emerge in the 13th century when bathhouses were rebuilt. But in the 16th century the spread of disease was blamed partly on public baths and people returned to just private baths or the use of natural warm mineral water for the therapeutic benefits. Doctors in the 19th and 20th centuries once again touted the curing powers of water and the immersion of the body in thermal water, hydrotherapy, becomes seen as beneficial, yet again in Europe.
Eastern cultures did not miss out on the benefits of bathing and may even have a longer cultural history with bathing. Japan, China, the Middle East all show that they have enjoyed the benefits of hot water therapy for many years. Japan's vibrant bathing culture continued to flourish due to the many, many natural hot springs, the cultural history of bathing, and the prescribed therapeutic value of a hot bath. The Japanese soaking tub has influenced American tubs for decades.
Russians also have a long cultural history with bathing. Going to the bathhouse was a way to rid oneself of illness and to prevent further sickness. Bathing was considered the people's “first doctor”. Following closely behind was the use of vodka and fresh garlic! The bath house was a community activity but was valued for its benefits to health.
Americans don't have as long of a national history, so our love of hot water soaking may not seem as ancient, but it is well entrenched in our history. Natural hot springs were discovered and used during colonial times. Wealthier Americans were drawn to these spas for the therapeutic benefits.
Then creative folks turned wine barrels into hot water tubs to enjoy. Soaking tubs made their way into our homes and in the 1950s, a pump was invented by the Jacuzzi brothers to add more therapeutic benefits to the hot water. In the 1960s, the hot tub was a companion to the outdoor swimming pool evolving into a self contained hot tub to be enjoyed on its own. The vast advances in materials and construction have greatly changed the way in which we enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy, but the idea of using hot water to treat ailments and improve the quality of life are ancient.
Our modern hot tub has evolved from natural hot springs, eastern soaking tubs and wooden wine barrels over the years to the self-contained, highly reliable, programmable spa sitting on many decks in America. Decades, even centuries, of innovation have led to the relatively easy access we have to the wonderful benefits of hydrotherapy found in our own private hot tubs.
"A Brief History of Spa Therapy." -- Van Tubergen and Van Der Linden 61 (3): 273. N.p., n.d. Web. http://ard.bmj.com/content/61/3/273.full
"Roman Baths." Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Baths/
"Russian-Bath.com - Guide to Traditional Russian Baths and Banya Reviews." The History of Russian Bath. N.p., n.d. Web. http://russian-bath.com/history/
"A Short History of Bathing before 1601:." Bathing: A History. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.gallowglass.org/jadwiga/herbs/baths.html