Stock Tank Soaking Tubs

A lot of folks have discovered how easy and inexpensive it is to create a soaking tub using an agricultural stock tank (available from most farm-supply stores). Combined with a Chofu heater or our new electric heating system, these low-cost galvanized steel or plastic tubs make wonderful soaking tubs. They have a pleasing smooth surface, the perfect shoulder depth, and a round top rim for a comfortable arm and neck rest.


Stock Tanks Make Sense

The fact is, a lot of people prefer the simplicity of a soaking tub to a high-maintenance spa. For those who want something simple, low-cost, and functional, stock tanks are just the thing – a gift from heaven!


Advantages of Stock Tanks

  • Low volume for fast heating
  • Rugged and durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy installation
  • Lightweight, easy to move
  • Shoulder-deep 23-24 in. (Bathtubs are 13-15 in. deep.)
  • Inexpensive: $80 to $150 depending on size.


Yes, It Can Be Attractive

A stock tank soaking tub doesn’t have to look crude or tacky. You can make it as attractive as you want by covering the sides with a variety of materials: wood, split bamboo, leather-grain vinyl, Sunbrella fabric, etc. (Ask us about instructions for insulating and enclosing stock tanks.) (Photo link to stock tanks with different coverings)


Perfect For the Cabin

Stock tanks used with a Chofu heater are especially practical for vacation cabins where electricity is unavailable and where a soaking tub might sit unused for months. You can easily disconnect and store a Chofu heater, leaving the stock tank outside without worry.


Easy Set-Up

  1. Cut two holes in the side to install thru-wall ports.
  2. Cut a hole in the bottom for a drain.
  3. Place the tub and heater on solid foundations to create a level surface and provide the proper elevation of tub to heater for efficient thermosiphon
  4. Connect the Chofu heater to the tub using the connecting tubes and clamps provided.

An insulating cover is desirable to keep heat in, either floating insulation or a custom-made vinyl insulating cover.


Metal stock tanks are made of electroplated galvanized steel with a glass-smooth surface. They have straight sides with lateral corrugations for strength and a 1- inch diameter rolled top rim. Vertical sides make it easy to insulate and cover. The standard depth is 23-24 in., just right for shoulder-deep water. Metal stock tanks come in either round or oblong shapes – both desirable for soaking tubs.

Plastic stock tanks are becoming increasingly popular for use as soaking tubs. They’re made of UV-resistant polyethylene and range in depth from 23-24 in. Typically, the top edge has a 2 in. diameter rolled rim that is very comfortable for a neck and arm rest. Plastic stock tanks are made with sloping sides with angled steps for stiffening, which makes insulating a little more difficult; however, they can be made very attractive when enclosed with wood paneling. (link to Mother Earth News article) note: Unfortunately, plastic stock tanks do not come in a 5ft diameter size. They jump from a 4½ft. x 3ft. size to 6ft diameter.


Oblong Tanks are the right size for one or two people sitting at each end with legs side by side. They use a minimal amount of water and heat up quickly. Consider metal tanks 5ft. long x 2 ft. wide, 6ft. long x 2ft. wide, or 6ft. long x 2½ft. wide.


Round Tanks are more spacious, hold more people, but also hold more water.


Does Size Matter?

Stock tanks have cozier leg-room because they don’t have a bench or foot well, but the benefit is that they have much less water to heat, fill, and drain. When choosing a tub, we recommend thinking small: a 6ft. diameter stock tank will provide plenty of leg room for four people, but a 5ft. diameter tank will also hold four people and heat up faster – although it’s cozier.


Size Chart

Size & Shape


Usable Water
Volume *

Approx. Heating Time with Chofu

5ft x 2ft oblong


110 gals

1½ hours

6 ft x 2 ft



     140 gals

   2 hours

4 ft round


    135 gals

     2 hours

5 ft round


    215 gals

     3 hours

6 ft round

4 – 5

     315 gals

     4½ hours

*The usable volume is about 3-4 in. from the top to compensate for body displacement.

What’s the Right Depth?

People tend to think that a stock tank will not be deep enough, when, in fact, they are the perfect depth for most people. When you sit in a soaking tub, you don’t sit perfectly upright. You slouch. That said, the best depth is about shoulder high. Water up to your chin is uncomfortable and chest high is not deep enough. You also want to be able to rest your arms on the top rim or lay your neck back on the rounded rim. Most stock tank brands are 22-24 inches deep, which is just right for someone 5ft. 8in. to 6ft 2in. But what about shorter people and kids? Luckily there’s a simple solution. An inexpensive plastic lawn chair can be cut down to make a booster seat. They work great! (see photo)

Where to Get Stock Tanks

One of the best things about stock tanks is that they are available everywhere from agricultural supply stores – usually both plastic and metal stock tanks. Different regions will have different brands, some more desirable than others. (see Purchasing a Stock Tank)

We’re Here to Help

We carry a lot of the accessories and materials for putting together a stock tank soaking tub. We also offer free printed instructions and phone advice: 1-888-878-5512.