As we noted in our post about the history of deep soaking, Cabuchon developed the world’s first modern deep soaking tub in 1991. Before that, the wooden ofuro had been a feature of Japanese bathing rituals for centuries, but it was only with the introduction of Cabuchon’s Imersa that the market witnessed a deep soaking tub designed for western and modern tastes.

In the 27 years that followed our original pioneering work, we introduced further generations of deep soaking tubs. Each model sought to deliver important advances in comfort, function and ease of use. Now, not only are these baths market leaders, but ‘deep soaking’ is becoming an ever more popular mode of bathing. For many people, modern soaking tubs are replacing the conventional ‘horse trough’ bath design. What’s more, as these people’s children grow up recognising the benefits and pleasures of deep soaking, so their own buying habits as adults are increasingly showing.

Now, with deep soaking having become internationally popular and consumers facing a growing number of choices, we thought we’d take this opportunity to set out our view of what makes a true deep soaking tub.

First, though, it might be helpful to explain what a deep soaking tub is not. One does not make a deep soaking bath simply by making a standard bath deeper. In a standard bath, lying in water up to one’s neck is difficult at any time; let alone doing so comfortably.

To illustrate the point, our own Pleasance Plus has a depth of 605mm /23¾”, but we would never describe it as a deep soaking tub. It is a free-standing bath inspired by the traditional Georgian ‘slipper bath’. It allows the bather to lie comfortably in deep water but the posture is very different, and its footprint is much less compact. It was designed for style whereas a deep soaking tub is designed primarily for function.

So, that’s what a true soaking tub isn’t. Now let’s consider what it is.

Bathing Position:

When, more than 25 years ago, we sought a new approach to bathing, our field research quickly showed that western bathers were not happy without a seat. This made perfect sense because, in any other seated situation, their feet would be below the rest of their body. A true soaking tub should certainly have a seat.

We also found that a more upright posture put less strain on the neck and shoulders, so this was incorporated into the design, too. The intention was that the bather could recline at a comfortable angle, aided by some subtle lumbar support.

Access:

There was also the question of access; a good soaking tub should be deep enough to soak in without being difficult to enter or exit. An often forgotten requirement is that a bath should also be easy to clean.

Size & Heat Retention:

Our trials demonstrated that – if bathers were not to feel ‘insecure’ when semi-floating in deep water – then the bath tub had to be smaller than the accepted norm. This had the effect of reducing the water’s surface area, which meant that it remained hotter for longer; a boon for the soaking bather, as well as a saving in space and in energy costs.

Material choice also plays a vital part in heat retention. FICORE® – the proprietary material from which we build our deep soaking tubs – keeps water hot six times longer than acrylic, and twelve times longer than vitreous enamelled metal.

Hydrotherapy:

Over time, as the deep soaking tub gained in acceptance and popularity, so consumers increasingly began to recognise another important bathroom luxury – namely spa hydrotherapy; the whirlpool.

Ideally, a deep soaking tub should be fitted with a spa hydrotherapy system. Being smaller, such a bath brings the jets closer to the bather’s body, making them more effective. However, this only really works if the hydrotherapy system is custom built to ensure that the jets are positioned to suit their owner’s physiology and needs. A good, tailored system will be highly effective at relaxing and smoothing out tight muscles.

In short: the key features of a true deep soaking tub:

A true deep soaking tub has certain essential characteristics that make for an exceptionally relaxing bathing experience. Shape plays a big part in this, as does the choice of material and the design of the interior. The following is a guide to some of the most important characteristics to consider.

  • Size: It will have a compact footprint and steep-sided internal walls.
  • Seating: It will have a low and sculptured seat enabling the bather to sit comfortably and securely in a semi-reclined position.
  • Depth: It will be sufficiently deep to submerge the bather up to the neck, but not to present a problem for entry or exit (or cleaning!)
  • Versatility: The sculpting of the seat will permit bathers of different heights to adjust their positions to achieve the degree of immersion they seek.
  • Arm support: Consider the value of armrests, both for the bather’s comfort when reclining, and to aid entry and exit.

Soaking tubs – what to look for when buying

Comfort:

Comfort must be one of the absolute key requirements when choosing a soaking tub. All Cabuchon’s products have been painstakingly developed – involving trials with prototypes and sometimes years of customer feedback – to deliver the most relaxed possible bathing experience. This research has helped to determine the ideal height of the internal seat, the length of any armrests, the placement of any footrests and so on. This attention to detail makes a real and lasting difference to the bathing experience.

Space-saving:

One of the most common secondary reasons that people choose deep soaking tubs is that they wish to save space. This might be because they want, for instance, to add a second bathroom to the house, or perhaps a small bath to an en-suite shower room; it might be because they are remodelling their bathroom and a smaller bath gives them more layout options. Whatever the individual reasons, space-saving is one of the main drivers of customer demand and it’s the reason that Cabuchon has never developed a circular or oval soaking tub.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with oval baths – we make circular and oval baths of other designs – but we don’t believe they are appropriate when it comes to deep soaking. Partly, that’s because they waste space. If you look at the diagram below, you’ll see considerable ‘dead’ space in each corner; space that reduces the internal bathing area.

Illustration of the 'dead' space at the corners of an oval tub.

Illustration of the ‘dead’ space at the corners of an oval tub.

This wasted space could cause the internal volume to feel cramped so, to prevent that, the manufacturer then has to make the bath’s overall footprint larger. By contrast, a true deep soaking tub with steep-sided walls and a more rectangular layout wastes much less internal space, so its overall dimensions can be kept very compact.

Robust materials:

A bath that flexes or otherwise distorts as a result of weight, movement or changes in temperature is unlikely to serve you well, particularly if it incorporates a hydrotherapy system. Likewise, you won’t want your bath to discolour with age or to develop unsightly scratches as a result of cleaning and everyday use.

Cabuchon’s Ficore®is an advanced composite material specially developed for the manufacture of luxury baths. Its many advantages are explained here: Ficore® – the Bath Reinvented. Chief amongst those advantages are its hardness, its superior impact resistance and its ability to retain heat far longer than either acrylic or enamelled metal. It can be produced in any colour and it is very rigid, so your deep soaking tub will not bend or flex when it’s in use.

A Word of Caution:

The market for deep soaking tubs is becoming increasingly saturated with baths that are labelled ‘Deep Soaking’ but which offer none of the benefits that a true soaking tub should have. Sadly, some cheap imitators are recognising an opportunity and introducing products that are little more than boxes to hold water. This risks blurring definitions and giving new customers a very distorted view of what the soaking tub experience is really all about.

To prevent such misconceptions, it’s important that customers are discerning; that they seek out quality products that have been designed and built for function. Deep soaking tubs that put quality first will never disappoint.