Burn weeds with torch

What Is Flame Weeding: Information On Flame Weeding In Gardens

If the idea of weeding using a flame thrower makes you uneasy, it’s time to find out more about using heat to kill weeds. Flame weeding is safe when you use the equipment properly. In fact, in many cases, it’s safer than using harsh chemicals that can contaminate groundwater and leave toxic residue on your garden vegetables. Read on to learn how to use flame weeders and when flame weeding is suitable.

What is Flame Weeding?

Flame weeding is passing a flame over a weed briefly to heat the plant tissues just enough to kill them. The goal is not to burn up the weed, but to destroy plant tissue so that the weed dies. Flame weeding kills the above ground portion of the weed, but it doesn’t kill the roots.

Flame weeding kills some annual weeds for good, but perennial weeds often regrow from the roots left in the soil. Perennial weeds require several treatments at two- to three-week intervals. As with any weeding method, if you kill back the tops often enough, the weeds eventually give up and die.

The problem with flame weeding in gardens is that

it’s hard to expose the weeds to the flame without exposing your plants as well. In vegetable gardens, use a flame weeder to kill weeds that emerge after you sow seeds but before the seedlings emerge. You can also use it to kill weeds between rows.

How to Use Flame Weeders

A flame weeder setup consists of a wand connected to a propane tank by a hose. You’ll also need a dolly to carry the propane tank and a flint igniter to light the flame if the wand doesn’t have an electronic starter. Read the instruction manual completely before using a flame weeder.

Weeds only need a 1/10 second exposure to the flame, so pass the flame slowly over the weed. If you are weeding rows in a vegetable garden or along a fence line or drainage ditch, walk slowly (about 1 or 2 miles per hour) along the area you want to flame. Be careful to keep the flame away from the hose that connects the propane tank to the wand.

Once you have passed the flame over the weed, the leaf surface changes from glossy to dull. If you are concerned that the weeds aren’t dead, allow them to cool and then squeeze a leaf between your thumb and finger. If you can see a thumbprint in the leaf, the flaming was successful.

When is Flame Weeding Suitable?

Flame weeding works best on annual weeds that are 1 to 2 inches high. Use flame weeders to kill weeds that grow around garden barriers and fences. They excel at killing weeds in sidewalk cracks, and you can even use them to kill stubborn, broadleaf weeds in lawns because mature lawn grass blades are protected by a sheath. Once you have a flame weeder, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

You’ll need to take a few safety precautions. Don’t weed during dry spells, and keep the flame away from dead or brown material that might ignite. Some areas have bans on flame weeders, so check with your local fire department before investing in the equipment.


Flame weeding is what we like to call a “slow kill”. Essentially, you are destroying cell structure in the plant leaf. The weed will no longer put energy toward growth (photosynthesis) taking the kill though the root system. YES, flame weeding will kill the roots too! Even on big weeds (over 6″), you will see a stunting effect and even a kill within a few days, depending on how established the root system is and how long the plant was exposed to heat. Again, multiple application may be necessary for well-established pants. When you see green – flame!

It is important to remember when flaming in and around desirable plants that heating those leaves can cause damage as well. Flame is not like a broadleaf herbicide in that it will only fill the weeds. Fire does not know the difference between desirable flowers and undesirable weeds. Thus, be careful around flowers and shrubs – particularly evergreens. Conifers are very flammable and should be avoided at all costs! Poison ivy, oak or any poisonous plant should be avoided also- the vapor/smoke from flamed leaves will cause a rash to your skin, eyes, and lungs! Yuck!

What’s the best advice we can give you? If in doubt, don’t. Always allow a safe distance between the flame and desirable plants, shrubs and trees. Always keep a fire extinguisher and water supply close in case of an emergency. Contact your local city or fire department to see if it safe to run a flame weeder in your area.

For help troubleshooting your weed burner, check out more on the FAQ page!

  • A quick pass with the torch and you’ll see weeds wilt and die.

  • A thumb print on the weed leaf indicates success.

  • Shortly after flaming the weed turns a dark green and shows stress and wilting.

  • Days later, weed decay is obvious.

How Does It Work?

Who knew killing weeds could be exciting? Here at JJGeorge we are quite hyped about our brand new product – The Weed Torch.

If you’ve ever used our grill torch then you already know we like an efficient tool that gets the job done. We have taken the same design and created an easy-to-use weed and grass elimination tool. The best part is it uses no chemicals – only natural propane gas.

The torch kills by dehydration rather than using harmful chemicals. Simply attach a propane cylinder (found at most major retailers – and cheaper than chemical herbicides) and light the torch. Then sweep it over the base of the weed for 10-15 seconds to kill the root. The grass withers over a 24-48 hour period.

Why We Love It

The torch is lightweight and long enough to prevent constant bending and pumping like you’d have to do with a chemical sprayer. And speaking of chemical sprayers – you may have heard that liquid herbicides can be dangerous. Using the torch is a safe, chemical free way to get the job done. This weed torch is effective in driveways, sidewalks, down the rows of gardens, burning grassy areas to start new garden beds, and also for lighting fir pits or grill fires.

Available Now

Can’t wait to get those weeds burning? Pre-order your Weed Torch now. Only $42.99.

Landscaping rock has become a popular fixture in Northern Utah yards for both aesthetic and environmental reasons. But, once weeds pop up in your rock beds, that clean, architectural look quickly turns unsightly.

Homeowners and residential architects make ample use of landscape rock today. Environmentally, it cuts down on water use and the need for mowing. Aesthetically, it creates a clean look that harmonizes with the natural landscapes of Northern Utah.

And, if you can keep your rock beds weed-free, they will always look perfect with virtually no maintenance.

How to Remove Weeds from Landscaping Rock

Whenever you can, try to avoid using toxic chemicals in your yard and garden. You can successfully banish weeds from landscaping rock by pulling them but who wants to mess with that?

Instead, spray them with straight white vinegar. Be careful not to let the overspray reach your plants or grass, however, as it will kill them as well. You may want to use an electric trimmer or pruners to cut weeds low to the ground first, to make the treatment more effective.

If you’ve let your weeds get a little out of control, or if you have a lot of them, household-strength vinegar may not do the trick. The white vinegar you buy at the grocery store contains approximately 5 percent acetic acid, but 15 to 20 percent strength solution will do a better job. You can pick up horticultural vinegar or pure 20 percent vinegar at the home improvement store or online.

You can also pour boiling water directly on the weeds to kill them, but wear long pants and close-toed shoes, to avoid burning yourself.

How to Prevent Weeds from Growing in Existing Landscaping Rock

If your landscape rocks are already in place, you can help prevent new weeds from growing by treating and discarding existing weeds before they can drop seeds. If you pull weeds, make sure you get the root (wet them down first – it will make the job much easier).

Some landscapers swear by periodically sprinkling salt over the area. Apply the salt liberally and spray the area down with water.

You can also use a preemergent weed killer, as long as you apply it carefully, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Preventing Weeds from Growing in New Landscaping Rock

If you are preparing to put down landscaping rock, do yourself a favor and prepare the area appropriately.

If you are so inclined, use a good preemergent according to the product’s instructions. Next, install a steel edging border that is at least 3 inches high (4” is better). This will prevent weeds, grasses and plants from sending roots into your rock beds.

Now, put down a layer of underlayment. The heavy black plastic you may have seen in the past is not ideal. It decomposes quickly and corners start to stick up through the rock. Instead, top your bed with a good landscaping fabric. We highly recommend Hanes weed barrier fabric because, in our experience, it is the most weed-resistant.

If you want to add a layer to block the sun (sunlight encourages weed growth), add a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard over the fabric.

The Dirt Bag has everything you need for creating the perfect landscaping and we can deliver it right to your door. We have a variety of sizes and colors of landscape gravel, cobble and pea gravel. We can also deliver mulch, play sand, garden soil and topsoil, or you can pick up whatever you need at our West Jordan location. Contact us today to place your landscaping rock order.

Kill Weeds With Heat

Lanine and Orzolek both recommend using flamers as a pre-emergence control. Most viable annual weed seeds are in the top 1/4 inch of soil, and flamers can kill already-germinated seeds with heat.

Lanine recommends watering the soil before applying heat. “Unless the seeds have sprouted, there’s no way to kill them with flamers. Even when they’ve sprouted, the soil is an incredible insulator,” he says. “However, if the soil is saturated with water, then you will get some conduction of heat and can kill some seedlings in the soil.”

Buying Tips: Features to Consider

Flamers are long metal tubes that carry gas to the flaming tip. The function sounds simple enough, but some products have features that make weeding both easier and safer.


Flamers are available in garden centers and in many gardening and homeowner catalogs. Expect to pay $50 to $90 for a flamer, which should include an extension hose and gas regulator. The gas tank and propane are sold separately. A 5-gallon (20-pound) tank costs about $20 to $25 in hardware stores, and fuel will be about a dollar a gallon.

Easy Starting

For a flame that starts safely and easily, look for one that has an ignition switch. These devices send a spark directly into the torch. You simply turn on the gas, hit the switch, and you’re on your way. Not all flamers are that easy to start, though. Many manufacturers provide flame-starting tools that you must hold near the gas outlet. These devices generate sparks that ignite the gas. They are simple and safe when used properly. Don’t use matches because your hands will be too close to the flame when it ignites.

Tank Size

Some flamers attach directly to small propane tanks (14 to 16 ounces). This makes them easier to maneuver, but they burn for only 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Flamers attached to large tanks (like those used with barbecue grills) need an extension hose, that runs from the tank to the flamer. The hose length limits your range, however, and you must lug the tank around. Use a dolly if the tank is too heavy to move around comfortably, but make sure you strap the tank down securely.

Burning Time

Most flamers include valves that allow you to adjust the flame from low to high settings. How much fuel you use will depend on the size of the burning tip and your flame-adjustment setting. Typically, a 5-gallon gas tank will provide enough for 3 to 6 hours of burning. However, a flamer with a 3-inch tip at full throttle will burn 20 pounds of fuel (about 5 gallons) in an hour.

The Size of the Burning Tip

Tip size is important, and you should consider the type of weeding you want to do. For example, if you’ll be working in tight spaces, you’ll have much better control using a torch with a tip (burning end) that produces a fine flame. Remember, a 2,000°F flame will kill prized garden plants just as easily as it will kill unwanted weeds. If you need to manage heavy weed growth over a large area, buy a flamer with a 1 1/2- to 3-inch-diameter tip. Flamers with these tips, sometimes called torch bells, send out a wider flame band than other models, allowing you to cover more area in less time. For most home gardeners, flamers with 3/4- to 1 1/2-inch tips are best.


When used properly, flamers provide effective weed control.

Here are a few important safety tips:

  • Never flame weeds during extremely dry periods. Flamers produce intense heat; even wet mulch will ignite. Don’t flame if you have any debris around and as little as a 3- to 5-mile-per-hour wind.
  • If you’re using a flamer with an extension hose, keep the flame away from both hose and tank.
  • Though the flamer’s handle doesn’t get hot, the flaming tip does. Even after turning off the flame, keep the flamer away from people and combustible materials.
  • Always be cautious when lighting the flamer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly.

Dan Hickey is a former editor of National Gardening.

Using fire to kill weeds

As an exercise, let’s apply the four elements of the classical world — earth, air, fire and water — to the garden. Earth comes first, because you certainly can’t grow much without soil. You’ll also need air in that soil or plant roots will decay and soil organisms will perish. And not much survives, or thrives, without water.

The need for fire is a little less obvious. Though dangerous, it can be a major regenerative force in forests and grasslands. And it can also be a major ally in the war on weeds.

Using a blast of fiery heat to kill weeds is an old technique and one applied quite commonly in agriculture, as befits the size of your plot. It’s a great way to kill a lot of weeds quickly without resorting to herbicides. The trick is not to set the intruding plant on fire, but merely to break down its cell structure so that it dies. It might not look dead right away, but wait a few hours and — pfffft. Large farms use tractor-pulled flamers that roar across a field. Our small farm uses hand-held flaming wands, each fueled by a three-gallon propane tank mounted on a backpack. (Tanks can also be pulled along on a dolly.)

For the home garden, we have an even simpler, lightweight wand, shaped like a cane, to which you attach a one-quart propane canister. With this you can blast a stubborn dandelion, perhaps not into oblivion, but into a submission more long-lasting than with a dose of boiling water or vinegar, two approaches that are “better than nothing” but no more.

Our favorite flaming technique, however, is the preemergent treatment of weeds. Nobody likes to weed a large bed of young carrot plants, which are far too dainty to shade weeds out. Allowing the bed to sprout its surface weeds for two weeks, then flaming them, can buy the crop time before weeds pose a threat.


Here’s the ingenious part: Flaming after you sow the carrots gives more weeds a bit of time to emerge. So we burn them after the carrot seeds have been in the ground a few days and are on the verge of germinating. How do we know that is about to happen? By placing a pane of glass over a small area of the bed. When we see seedlings beneath the glass pushing through the earth, we know the rest of the bed will sprout the next day. Use a box frame to keep the pane an inch off the ground.

If you flame immediately, you kill all the latest crop of small weeds while the carrot seeds are still safely underground. For summer carrot sowings, when the sun is hotter, we don’t use the glass but simply flame five days after sowing the crop.

There are a number of simple, lightweight flame weeders on the market, some available at mass merchandisers and hardware stores. Some types employ an actual flame; others use infrared heat. The flame is hotter, but both methods work and are not at all scary. The Bernzomatic Self-Igniting 20,000 BTU Outdoor Torch, for example, available from Amazon.com for $33, would easily handle the average-size garden. And a large creme brulee.

Damrosch is a freelance writer and the author of “The Garden Primer.”

If you are looking for a way to tackle weeds without breaking your back or resorting to chemical treatments, a weed torch may be a useful tool. Weed torches produce a very hot flame fueled by a propane gas tank. When you place the flame over the top of the weed, it quickly dehydrates and kills it. The devices are nothing new, but sales are growing because they can take care of a weed problem without the use of herbicides. Our quick guide has everything you need to consider before you buy, and we’ve also included our picks for the best weed torches on the market. Our favorite model has the power and range to take down plenty of weeds, no matter the landscape.
Considerations when choosing weed torches
There are two types of weed torches available: lightweight and heavy-duty.
Lightweight weed torches
Lightweight weed torches use a small container of propane gas. The canister screws onto the torch. These torches are easy to handle. However, if you have a big weed problem or a large area to cover, the gas canister will not last very long.
Heavy-duty weed torches
Heavy-duty weed torches are used by landscaping companies, but they can also be useful in a home setting. If you have rocky landscaping or a large garden where you need to pick weeds carefully to keep plants healthy, a heavy-duty torch can do a good job. That said, they are harder to handle than lightweight models, and you could be hauling around up to 20 extra pounds while you work.
When comparing weed torches, there are several features to consider.
Power is measured in BTUs. The higher the BTU rating, the quicker the weed torch will get to maximum heat.
Hose length
Hose length is important if you choose a heavy-duty weed torch. It determines how much mobility you will have before needing to move the tank.
Bell size
Bell size is the size of the tip of the weed torch. It determines how large a flame the torch produces.
Variable flame control
A weed torch with variable flame control allows you to make the flame larger or smaller as needed.
Safety features
Push-button ignition gives you more safety and ease when lighting the torch. Regulators limit the amount of gas that goes to the flame, which prevents the flame from getting out of control if you accidentally open the gas tank too much.
Inexpensive weed torches are available for about $25. These models are not likely to be as safe as more expensive models, though. The least expensive models are more likely to fail because of poor construction.
For $40 to $90, you can find a good-quality weed torch, either a handheld lightweight model or a heavy-duty unit that attaches directly to a propane tank. The more expensive models have more features, like a dolly to help you tote the propane tank or a backpack for carrying an extra tank.
Other important details
When using a weed torch, always keep safety in mind. You are dealing with very hot flames. The end of the torch could stay hot for awhile after the flame is extinguished. Keep a fire extinguisher or water handy to keep flames from burning out of control.
Weed torches are illegal in some places. Check regulations in your area before you buy.
Q. Can a weed torch help with poison ivy?
A. It’s not a smart idea to tackle poisonous weeds with a weed torch. Burning these weeds can release the toxins into the air, which you then breathe in.
Q. Do I need to reduce the weed to ash or simply brown it to destroy it?
A. With a weed torch, it is not necessary to completely burn a weed to ash to eliminate it. However, if you have perennial plants with deep root systems, you may have to treat the weeds more than once.
Q. How should I use a weed torch in my garden?
A. You can use a weed torch to kill weeds between the rows of a vegetable garden. In order to protect very small plants, try using a garden hoe as a protective barrier between the flame and the plants.
Weed torches we recommend
Best of the best: Red Dragon Weed Dragon
Our take: This weed torch is a good weight and ideal for weeding larger areas.
What we like: It has a 10-foot-long hose. It’s easy to hook up to your grill’s propane tank. Much easier than picking weeds by hand, especially in rocky landscaping.
What we dislike: You have to drag the propane tank with you or buy the model that comes with a tank dolly.
Best bang for your buck: Red Dragon Mini Weed Dragon
Our take: This small version of the brand’s Weed Dragon works great for small gardens.
What we like: Small and easy to handle. Lightweight. It is very efficient and inexpensive to run.
What we dislike: At a max of 25,000 BTU, it has nowhere near the power of the full-size weed torch. Tedious to use on large areas.
Choice 3: Red Dragon Heavy-Duty Propane Vapor Torch
Our take: This weed torch produces enough heat to have several purposes around your home.
What we like: If you need a torch for a farm or industrial application, this is your best bet. It throws off 500,000 BTU and has a large hot flame to take care of larger projects.
What we dislike: The full heat capacity is sometimes hard to actually get out of the torch.
Karen Roth Ridder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

This Flamethrowing Tractor Gets Rid of Weeds Without the Need of Chemicals

Organic farmers are returning to an ancient tool in the fight against weeds – fire. Called ‘flame weeding’ the process involves installing a pretty hardcore row of flamethrowers onto the front of a tractor and slowly driving through fields of crops blasting the weeds in between the rows of crops.

Flame Engineering, Inc. specializes in developing and selling flame weeding equipment and says the technique is really scientific. The company’s website explains that the technique is not about blasting the weeds to kingdom come but rather about focusing on destroying cell structure.

“Flame weeding is what we like to call a ‘slow kill.’ Essentially, you are destroying cell structure in the plant leaf. The weed will no longer put energy toward growth (photosynthesis) taking the kill though the root system. YES, flame weeding will kill the roots too! Even on big weeds (over 6″), you will see a stunning effect and even a kill within a few days, depending on how established the root system is and how long the plant was exposed to heat,” they explain on their website.

We can’t help but think that perhaps this is a good use for those flamethrowers that Elon Musk was peddling. If you can’t be bothered to pull weeds, simply blast their cells with a quick dose of flames. Organic farmers are required as part of their certification process not to use synthetic herbicides or pesticides.

Via: Jamie Gilchrist

Flame weeding is the killing of weeds with intense heat produced by a fuel-burning device, either hand-held or tractor-mounted. Flame weeding usually relies on propane gas burners to produce a carefully controlled and directed flame that briefly passes over the weeds. The goal is not to set plants on fire, but rather to damage the cell structure of their foliage. Brief exposure to intense heat causes the cell sap to expand and that in turn disrupts cell walls. The flamed weeds don’t keel over immediately, but within several hours or days they wilt and then die.

Weeds are most susceptible to flaming while still small, ideally as seedlings less than a couple of inches high. Broadleaf weeds are more readily killed by flaming than are grasses. Many grasses have their growing point below ground, or they may have a protective sheath around it, so they can usually re-grow after flaming. Several passes with a flame weeder, a few days or weeks apart, may be needed to adequately suppress grasses. Repeated flaming can likewise be used to suppress perennial weeds that have stored energy in their roots or stems, allowing them to re-grow after a single flaming. For control of many perennial weeds, cultivation will be needed in addition to, or instead of flaming. Other weeds, such as purslane, appear to be relatively tolerant of flaming unless it is done at very slow speed, which increases the exposure to heat.

The stale seedbed technique is well suited to the use of flame weeding. Stale seedbeds are used primarily for early- to mid-season weed control in direct-seeded crops. When a seedbed is prepared and soil is stirred, whether by plowing, rototilling and/or bed-forming, there is always a flush of weeds that follows because new weed seeds have been brought up neat the surface of the soil. With the stale seedbed technique, instead of sowing vegetable seeds into freshly prepared soil, planting is delayed. The aim is to first allow weeds to germinate and be killed, and then plant, while minimizing soil disturbance that would bring new weed seeds to the surface. A stale seedbed can also be used to reduce weed pressure on ground that is being readied for setting out transplants.

When preparing stale seedbeds it’s important to get the soil completely ready for crop planting. Apply nutrients according to soil test recommendations, thoroughly incorporate fertilizer and organic residues, and prepare a very smooth seed bed. Irregularities in the surface of the soil can sometimes deflect heat from the flame weeder, giving some protection to weed seedlings. After soil preparation is complete, if growing conditions are not optimal, as with dry or cool weather, you may want to encourage weed growth by applying irrigation or floating row cover prior to flame weeding.

Stale seedbeds have been used for many years, most often in conjunction with shallow tillage or non-selective herbicides to kill that first flush of weed. Flaming is an alternative technique that has been growing in popularity, especially among organic growers. It is relatively quick, inexpensive and safe if proper precautions are followed. Generally, flaming focuses on getting in-row weed control because one can rely on mechanical cultivation after crop emergence for between-row weed control.

Depending on when the soil is prepared, when the weeds are germinating, and when the crop is to be planted, stale seedbeds may be flamed once or perhaps several times. Some growers like to prepare many beds in advance and keep them clean with regular flaming until they are needed for planting. Other growers do not have enough extra land to do that, and they prepare beds, flame, and plants in as short a time span as possible.

Early in the season when it is cool stale seedbeds may not work as well because warm season weeds won’t germinate fully. But once the weeds are coming on strong don’t wait too long to flame them. Broadleaf weeds that reach the 3-leaf stage they should be flamed to prevent them from getting too large and becoming difficult to kill.

Unlike with shallow cultivation of a stale seed bed, flame weeding can continue even after a crop is direct seeded, so long as the crop has not emerged. You can usually flame right up until the seedlings are starting to push the ground up without sustaining crop damage. For the longest-lasting weed control effect, the final flaming of weeds should be done as late as possible: ideally after seeds have germinated but before crop seedlings have emerged. To identify that ideal timing usually requires some digging around in the row, and checking the ground to see if crop seeds have sprouted. Some growers place a glass or plastic plate over a row end to speed crop emergence in one small area to give them a heads-up. Others have tried planting a few feet of row to a slightly faster-emerging crop, which also provides a signal that it’s time to flame.

Flame weeders come in a range of human- and tractor-powered models. Market-farming equipment options include handheld single-torch flamers, as well as push-wheeled multiple-torch flamers mounted under a flame hood. These small-scale units are easy to operate and very convenient for flaming on farms with many small, sequential plantings of crops. Flaming is especially useful with small crops that are slow to germinate, like onions and carrots, which are not competitive with weeds and are not well-suited to moving a lot of soil into the row during cultivation.

Tractor-powered flaming kits are available in multiple-row models, with or without a flame hood; other options include a complete toolbar setup with accompanying cultivator attachments for between-row mechanical cultivation. Farmers that have learned how to establish stale seed beds and use flame weeders in a timely fashion have been positive about the effectiveness of this method for weed control.

Safety should be a serious concern with flame weeding, especially with tractor-mounted units. Always consult with a gas professional if constructing your own flaming unit. Do not mount propane tanks intended for stationary use onto tractors. Be careful to flame against the breeze, and to avoid areas with dry residues or dry hedgerows. Liability concerns may hinder the use of flaming for some farmers.

For much more detailed information on flame weeding, and a list of flame weeding equipment suppliers, contact ATTRA at 1-800-346-9140 or see their web site: http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/flameweedveg.html.

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