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The history of cast iron baths 

A bathtub (also called a bath or tub), is a container that holds water and can be used to bathe a person or an animal. Most modern bathtubs are made of porcelain-enamelled steel or cast iron, fibreglass-reinforced polyester, or thermoformed acrylic. A bathtub is usually in a bathroom, either by itself or with a shower. 

Modern bathtubs have overflow drains, waste drains, and sometimes taps. Most of the time, they are built in, but they can also stand alone or be sunk. Before acrylic thermoforming technology made it possible to make tubs in other shapes, almost all of them were roughly rectangular. Most bathtubs are white, but you can find them in many other colours as well. 

There are two main styles: 

  1. Clawfoot tub

People lie down in bathtubs that look like they belong in the West. Most of the time, these baths are long and shallow. 

The bather sits up in an Eastern-style bathtub. In Japan, these are called “furo”, and they tend to be short and deep. 

  1. Traditional tub from Italy from the 1800s

Copper water pipes were found under a palace in ancient Europe that dates back to around 3300 BC. These pipes were used to bring water to a bathing area. 

On the island of Crete, a 1.5-meter (5-foot) long pedestal tub made of hardened pottery was found. This tub is thought to be the oldest personal-sized bathtub that is still around today.  

The clawfoot tub was most popular in the late 1800s, but its design dates back to the mid-1800s in the Netherlands. Its ball-and-claw shape may have been inspired by the Chinese image of a dragon holding a precious stone.  

The design made its way to England, where it became very popular among the upper class at the same time that bathing was becoming more popular. Early bathtubs in England were usually made of cast iron or even tin and copper. They were painted on the outside, but the paint would often peel off over time. 

In the 1880s, while working for the Alexander Manufacturing Company in Detroit, David Buick, who was born in Scotland, came up with a way to bond porcelain enamel to cast iron. The company, along with Kohler Company and J. L. Mott Iron Works, started selling porcelain enamelled cast-iron bathtubs successfully.  

This is a process that is still mostly the same today. One of the first clawfoot tubs made by Kohler was advertised as a “horse trough/hog scalder that can be turned into a bathtub by adding four legs.” This was a far cry from the fancy feet and luxury that most people associate with clawfoot tubs.  

The fact that the item could be used to scald hogs was seen as a more important selling point than the fact that it could also be used as a bathtub. 

In the second half of the 20th century, the once-popular clawfoot tub changed into a built-in tub with a small apron front. This style was easier to clean and maintain, and when coloured sanitary ware came out, it gave the homeowner more design options.  

In 1928, the Crane Company brought coloured bathroom fixtures to the U.S. market. As more design options and easier cleaning and care made their way into the market, clawfoot-style tubs almost went out of style. 

In the 1960s, fibreglass bathtubs became the norm for homes because they were light, cheap, and easy to clean. 

In 1979, James R. Wheeler and his brother Richard took acrylic that was being used for outdoor spas and changed it so it could be used to make acrylic bathtubs. Working with Spartech Plastics, they made the modern co-extruded acrylic bathtub, which is strong and lasts a long time.  

American Bath Factory was the first company to add whirlpools, clawfoot bathtubs, and a wide range of pedestal and modern bathtubs to the variety of acrylic bathtubs. 

David Dunbar Buick, an American who was born in Scotland, came up with a way to enamel cast iron bathtubs. 

Clawfoot tub 

In the late 1800s, the clawfoot tub was a luxury item. It was first made of cast iron and lined with porcelain. The price of clawfoot tubs, which are now made of fibreglass, acrylic, and other modern materials, has gone down because of modern technology.  

Most clawfoot tubs need more water than regular tubs because they are usually bigger. Even though real antique clawfoot tubs are still considered collectables, remodelers and new home builders often choose new reproduction clawfoot tubs. Like Western-style bathtubs, clawfoot tubs also come with a variety of shower head options. 

There are four main types of clawfoot tubs: 

  • Classic roll rim tubs (also called roll top tubs or flat rim tubs). 
  • Slipper tubs have one end that is raised and sloped, making it easier to sit back and relax. 
  • Slipper tubs with two ends that are both raised and sloped. 
  • Double-ended tubs have rounded ends on both sides, unlike the traditional roll-rim tub, which has one rounded end and one flat end. 

Pedestal tubs 

Many people would say that pedestal tubs have an art deco style because they sit on a pedestal. Around 1000 BC, pedestal tubs were found on the island of Crete. 

Bath for babies 

A baby bathtub is used to bathe babies who are still too young to sit up on their own. These can be a small bath that stands on its own and is filled with water from another source, or they can be a support for the baby that goes into a regular bathtub. Many of them are made so that the baby can lie down and keep its head out of the water. 

Hot tubs 

People often use hot tubs, which are heated pools, to relax and sometimes for therapy. During the early hippie years in the U.S., from 1967 to 1980, hot tubs became popular because they were in movies and songs.  

Whirlpool tubs 

In the United States, whirlpool tubs first became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Since Jacuzzi was introduced as the “Spa Whirlpool” in 1968, the word “jacuzzi” has come to mean any spa or hot tub. With the help of an air-bleed venturi pump, air bubbles can be put into the nozzles. 

Stand-alone bathtubs 

Because bathrooms are getting bigger, freestanding tubs have become more popular in recent years. There are many different kinds of materials that can be used to make freestanding bathtubs, such as stone resin, cast stone, acrylic, cast iron, fibreglass, porcelain, copper, and cement. 

Soft tubs 

Soft tubs are made of soft plastic or foam and have a non-slip coating to keep them safe. Soft tubs have been around since the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that big companies started selling them.  The tubs are usually sold to children and the elderly to keep them from getting hurt if they fall.