Compost smells of Jeyes fluid or bitumen

I bought a bag of multi-purpose compost from Aldi today, and it has a clear smell of Jeyes fluid to it, or a similar bitumen smell.

I assume this cheap compost has been sprayed with something to kill the bugs rather than be heated like some of the big brands, but is this potentially harmful to plants or things you plan to eat? Could this stuff be to the detriment of better compost if mixed into it?

I got my hands very dirty fluffing it up from its compressed state and then topped up pots and planters, some by hand. Then I washed my hands thoroughly with shower gel, but a slight smell of Jeyes fluid lingers on my skin.

Last week I bought a few bags of J Arthur Bowers multi-purpose, which didn't have any artificial smell or leave a smell on my skin.


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 10,267
    Yuk. Who can guess what is in it, where it came from or what it will do? I don't know what you paid for it, but I don't think that the good quality compost manufacturers charge an arm and a leg for theirs.

    Wait and see. And report back.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • TomskTomsk Posts: 204

    It's very dark and, as you say, the chemical smell masks the smell of what it contains. I bought a bag from Aldi a few months ago and it wasn't like this. It had a very woody smell and was less powdery.

    I didn't think it was the best compost, but I just needed one bag to top up a few dips in my soil and pots, and thought this would be good enough. I wasn't expecting the smell of Jeyes fluid.

    I suppose all compost brands are a lottery, but this shows that the contents can change a lot in just a few months of the same year. It was only £2 for 40L. But next time, even if I just want a small amount to top something up, I'll spend £6 on a big brand like J Arthur Bowers.

    My main concern is what effects the Jeyes fluid/bitumen could have on fruit & veg growing in it, or the wider health of the soil.

  • Magical MeerkatMagical Meerkat Posts: 241

    There was a post a few weeks ago about Aldi compost containing/smelling of chemicals/tar. Have a search and see what they say. I think some had been in touch with Aldi HQ. Sorry can't remember who.

    Found the post here you go....


  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,892

    If you've still go the receipt take it back to Aldi and don't run the risk.

  • TomskTomsk Posts: 204

    Thanks for the replies, especially the thread about Lidl's compost having the same issue. This does suggest they both use the same supplier.

    Unfortunately, I've already emptied the bag in my soil and pots, though I haven't mixed it into any soil beneath it. I'm uncomfortable with this compost, now that I know it certainly shouldn't smell of Jeyes fluid (and could even be oil contamination), and I certainly will never buy from Aldi again (nor try Lidl).

    I think I'll leave things as they are for now, but once the plants in the relevant areas have died down, I'll scoop it all up and replace it with J Arthur Bowers. It costs three times as much, but this appears to be one of those occasions when you get what you pay for.

    What I can say after a very hot day is that my own compost (made from vegetable waste) is very dark when damp but turns silver/grey when it dried out completely. The J Arthur Bowers is a very deep brown when wet but turns a reddish brown when dry. But this particular bag of Aldi's compost was almost black when it was wet and remains almost black when bone dry after a day of hot sunshine.

  • TomskTomsk Posts: 204

    By the way, the quality of compost, even amongst the big brands, seems to vary a lot each year. Do you think this year's warm but wet winter, and an exceptionally warm summer, will lead to good or bad compost next year, or is it not that simple?

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