Can You Get Rid of Weeds with Weed Burners?

Updated: Jul. 18, 2024

Discover the efficiency and eco-friendliness of weed torches for garden maintenance and weed control.

First used in the 1930s to keep weeds down along many of America’s new roads, propane torches have found a permanent place among organic farmers as a chemical-free way to manage weeds. Today, many homeowners are drawn to this weeding method, which requires little physical effort and time. “Flame weeding can be an effective alternative,” Garrett Poshusta from The Grit and Polish says.

After years of pulling, spraying and cursing the weeds on my property, I’ve finally switched to burning weeds with propane and could not be happier with my decision. Ahead, learn all about weed torches with pro tips from Poshusta and Tim Thompson from YouTube’s Farm Learning with Tim Thompson.

What Is a Weed Torch?

A weed torch consists of a long wand with a handle on one end and a burner cylinder head on the other. The wand is connected to a liquid propane source and ignites at the burner head. This generates an intense, concentrated heat that is then directed at weeds, killing green growth.

Weed torches come in different styles for various applications. There are single-head torches meant for smaller jobs and multi-head set-ups for large agricultural fields. Wands can have straight or curved handles. Poshusta finds curved wands more comfortable to use.

How much does a weed torch cost?

Expect to pay between $30 to $250 for a residential weed torch. Small torches that produce lower temperatures will fall on the lower end of the price range, while larger torches with a full-size propane tank and mobility system will cost much more.

Does Torching Weeds Work?

Yes, burning weeds with propane can be part of an effective management plan. The torches easily kill the green growth on weeds, but sometimes leave the root system intact. Hardier perennial and woody weeds can regrow from undisturbed root systems. “Repeated applications are necessary,” Thompson says, “but eventually, the roots will become depleted and die due to continued heat treatment.”

Weed torches are most effective at quickly killing annual weeds two to three inches tall. “Torching is most effective on small weeds with small roots,” Poshusta says. “So frequent, low-intensity application will give the best results.”

Is it Safe to Burn Weeds?

Yes, but certain precautions should be taken.

Weed torches can reach temperatures of 2000 to 2250 degrees Fahrenheit. To prevent burns, always face the torch head away from you when lighting and using it. “Be aware of the direction of the flame when using the torch, and remember that the tip will remain hot for a period of time after use,” Thompson says. Always wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and close-toed shoes during use.

To avoid inadvertently starting a fire, don’t torch weeds during dry conditions or on a windy day. Always have a water source ready to extinguish any unwanted flames. Consider torching weeds after a soaking rain to avoid sparking a brush fire. “Make sure there are no burn bans active in your location and take precautions to avoid unintended fire spread,” Poshusta says.

How to Use a Weed Torch

Using a weed torch is relatively simple, but be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions carefully.

  • With all valves closed, connect the torch to the propane tank and slowly open the tank valve. Slightly open the torch valve and use a flint spark igniter to ignite the gas at the burner head. Adjust the flame size with the control knob on the torch.
  • Direct the burner head toward the weeds you’d like to remove, remaining 4 to 6 in. above the ground. Apply heat in a sweeping motion across the plants until they begin to wilt, then move on to the next area. “You don’t have to completely incinerate the leaves. Simply wilting them down is often sufficient,” Poshusta says.
  • Move slowly across the area, applying heat to all visible weeds. “The woodier the weeds, the slower you need to go,” Thompson says. To make it easier to use with larger propane tanks, use a tank cart to move the setup around your yard as you go.

Weed Torch Pros and Cons

Pros

A propane torch is a fast, low-effort method to kill weeds without the use of chemicals and herbicides. “The big two advantages of heat torches are the instant results (you can literally look back at yellowing weeds as you work) and the lack of toxic chemicals,” Thompson says.

Without the presence of chemicals or residue, once burned off, neighboring beneficial plants can quickly replace unwanted weeds. This method also avoids damaging nearby plants with herbicide overspray.

“[Weed torches] are particularly useful around patios, sidewalks and other hardscape or gravel surfaces since these don’t burn,” Poshusta says. Weeds that sprout in cracks and driveways are notoriously difficult to pull can also be easily managed with a propane torch.

Cons

While a great tool for managing weeds, burning weeds with propane can cause fires if not used correctly or in overly dry, windy conditions. “You need to be careful not to use it on fire danger days,” Thompson says.

While fast and effective, killing weeds for good with a propane torch often takes several treatments.

Additionally, Poshusta points out that while this method avoids using chemical herbicides, it does require burning fossil fuel. “It also doesn’t work well when weeds are in close proximity to other plants you want to keep,” he says.

FAQs

Do weed torches kill the roots?

It depends. “Different types of weeds may respond differently to being burned. Some will die off completely and others will grow back from the roots and require another round,” Poshusta says.

Is it legal to use a propane torch?

The legality of burning weeds with propane can vary depending on local and state regulations. Always check your local laws and regulations before purchasing and using a weed torch.

About the Experts

  • Tim Thompson is an Australian Agriculture educator. He hosts Farm Learning with Tim Thompson on YouTube to empower people with knowledge and skills to better manage their land. It features top farmers and practitioners who share their skills and try out new ideas and products to make life on the farm or homestead easier.
  • Garrett Poshusta is one half of the husband and wife duo behind The Grit and Polish, a website devoted to home maintenance, renovation and improvement tutorials. The couple have been renovating and renting homes since 2008.