We got a water butt as we're trying to save water because we're now on a water meter. With a massive garden to water, we really can't afford to use the hose all the time!
We only had it for a week before it really started to smell. I think the main reason was my fiancé's Mum didn't put the lid on it because she wanted to catch more rainwater. But this meant that a lot of foliage and debris fell into the water butt, and combined with air it was a recipe for a stinking leafy soup!
So we emptied and cleaned the water butt and then refilled it with fresh water. Then we added the Hozelock Water Butt Treatment. We chose to buy this treatment because it claims to do the following:
* Treats twice as much water as leading competitor
* 2 in 1 - Treats rainwater and household water.
* Safe as it uses natural plant extracts.
* Mixes with stored water to activate.
* Prevents unpleasant smell.
* Eliminates soap scum.
* Treats up to 6400 litres of water
The instructions on the back of the bottle are easy to follow and the type of water you are holding in the water butt will determine how much you need to use and how frequently. For instance, if you're just saving rainwater then you only need to use 15ml every 2 weeks (25ml on the first use). But we were putting water used for washing-up in the water butt, so we needed to put 30ml in every week (50ml on the first use).
The bottle is cleverly designed so that there is a measuring cup within the bottle. You just need to squeeze the bottle and it will fill up the measuring cup. Then you unscrew the cap and pour the treatment into the water butt.
We keep the water butt covered now and I have been adding the treatment to the water religiously every week (I get all the glamourous jobs!). There is definitely an improvement on the stored water as the smell has mostly gone, which is good as it used to make us feel sick when we filled up our watering can! I only notice a faint smell on really hot days and there is still a little bit of scum inside the water butt, but it isn't as bad as before. We do need to clear foliage from around the gutter, so I think this would also help stop any nasty things from growing.
Unfortunately this treatment is quite expensive at over £7.00 per 500ml bottle. Although it says it can treat up to 6400 litres of water, if you use the maximum amount of treatment weekly, then it doesn't last that long.
The good thing is that it is non-toxic, so the water we have used on plants has had no ill effects. Although we only put the odd washing-up bowl full of water into the water butt, it says you can use it on other household water such as from your bath or washing machine, as it is also specially formulated to control soaps and body fats.
I think the Hozelock Water Butt Treatment is quite effective, but I think that you do have to do other things to prevent it from smelling, such as keeping the lid on and making sure no debris gets into the water butt. I am going to try putting an old stocking over the pipe to stop any debris - who would have thought a butt would need so much maintenance!
Available online or from places like B & Q (£7.48) or Homebase (£7.79).
Hozelock Water Butt Treatment is a safe, non toxic treatment for domestic water butts that collect household water (bath, washing machine, sink, etc) and rainwater. Hozelock Water Butt Treatment works using enzyme technology to prevent unsightly scums, eliminate unpleasant odours and helps keep the water slime and algae free. It is also specially formulated to control soaps and body fats.