Frozen waterbutt problem.....=/

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Ok so i haven't posted in ages as i have been very busy with uni =P but i have still been here watching and reading =P

Today i went outside to check my plants, its currently -2*C in my greenhouse and -3*C outside, i have a slight problem 100ltr waterbutt is frozen solid....i was totally unprepared for this because the temperature drop was pretty sudden as it wasn't frozen at the beginning of the week.

Anyone got any idea how i could unfreeze it without cracking the plastic? and how i could prevent this from happening again?? I'm completely shocked, was not expecting to go out and find a giant ice lolly!

Also on the water front what can i use to water my plants with in the meantime? i have a few indoors which are not dormant i.e. Heliamphora, Nepenthes etc.

Thanks in advance =)


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You'll want to put a floating ball or something in the water butt. This will stop some of it freezing on top, if you wish to access it from the lid.

I've poured hot water over the tap (made of plastic), to melt the ice, and then fill a few plastic bottles and keep them in the house.

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Hi Sarah, This doesn't solve you immediate problem but for future ref my approach is to keep a plastic bottle full in the house with a watering can full in the outhouse to fill up the bottle as needed, actually 1 bottle isn't enough. For the greenhouse I bought a 25L container with a tap from ebay, like this one here and keep it topped up when cold weather expected. Greenhouse has some heating so container doesn't freeze but if yours is only down to -2 then wrapping in some kind of insulating lagging should prevent a full freeze I think.

If you go for the hot water on the tap solution I'd go easy to avoid the cracking you already anticipated (and watch out for the spillage refreezing in your yard).

As for what to use to water your Helis and Neps, do you have much snow or ice in Staffordshire which you could collect in a bucket and melt? Or even drive somewhere to collect some, I can't say we have plenty here in Derbyshire but there's probably enough for that.

Well, good luck and let's hope it gets warmer soon.

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Hi Sarah,

You could try one of those floating pond heaters used to stop koi ponds from completely freezing over, you can pick one up on eBay for around £15.



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Hi guys!

Thanks for the advice, i think i will probably try and collect some snow from my garden we have hardly any but we are expecting some tomorrow so hopefully i'll be able to collect more =)

I will have a look at all of the suggestions =) storing some water in the house sounds like a good option wish i'd have thought of it before this sudden freeze, but nevermind at least i know for next year =D

Thank you


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Hi Sarah

I have my butts outside all year so they freeze on a regular basis, I find if you have a traditional shaped barrel, release some of the water to a level where if the ice expands upwards it is rising into an expanding part of the barell and not a contracting one, if you get what I mean, I do this (when I remember) and have only had one barell split in over 20 years, and that may be because th UV had hardened it to a point where it lost all elasticity. But to be on teh safe side put a ball or half filled (gravel or stones) plastic pop bottle in there.



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