Before the inception of herbicides, farmers used a flamer or a propane torch to burn and kill weeds.
Though most people use herbicides these days, some still prefer the traditional method because flamers do not contaminate groundwater and leave no chemical residue on the plants.
A good propane torch comes in two parts; a wand to control the gas and a propane tank.
After connecting the two as per the instructions on the user manual, you will turn the knob to allow gas to transfer to the wand and then use a flint lighter light to start the fire, which you will use to scorch the weeds.
What is flame weeding?
Flame weeding involves torching down the upper part of weeds with a propane torch to eliminate them from your garden.
It is one of the best ways of dealing with annual weeds which have not yet started seeding.
As for the weeds above 6 inches, you will need at least three rounds of torching after every three weeks for desired results.
Using this method on perennial weeds is difficult as they will always regrow, considering you left the roots intact.
When you subject weeds to a flame, their cellular water boils, causing atrophy. No matter how big the weed is, it will wilt away if you continuously burn it.
When should you use a propane torch?
For the perfect results, perform flame weeding during spring or the beginning of summer, as this is when weeds start to form.
Otherwise, you can do so before the plants start to form leaves. This way, it is easier to deal with the weeds without accidentally torching your plants.
Propane torches can also be used to burn down the weeds that grow on sidewalks, driveways, and lawns. All you need to do is follow the steps below.
Step by step guide on how to use a propane torch
- Visit your local fire department and obtain a permit if necessary. You could check for weather updates on the day you intend to do the flaming. Make sure to settle on a day with no wind.
- Purchase some protective gear such as insulated work boots, thick fire-resistant gloves and a long overall or coat.
- Clear any piles of flammable materials from the garden, such as dry leaves and twigs, as they are a fire hazard.
- If it has not rained recently, water the soil around the area, you are going to work as it helps in heat conduction and reduces fire hazards.
- After assembling your propane torch, attach it to the propane gas tank. Most modern flamers have an inbuilt ignition button near the wand’s handle. A flint lighter can do the job perfectly if yours does not have one.
- Point the flamer at least 6 cm away from the weed for perfect results. Each weed requires at least a 1/10 of a second of being torched. Walk slowly (around one or two miles per hour) around the area you want to work on so as to ensure you are spending the required time per weed.
- You do not need to burn down the weed; instead, you just need to dry it. If you are unsure about the results, pluck a leaf and press your thumb against it. If you see your fingerprints on it, the job is done.
- When you are done, please stay clear of the wand’s tip as it is sweltering, then leave it somewhere to cool before taking it apart for storage.
- Repeat the same procedure until the whole farm is free of weeds. This may take three to four sessions.
Ready to burn weeds with a propane torch?
Using a propane torch to deal with weeds might be an old practice, but it usually gets the job done with minimal damage to your existing plants.
So long as you follow the steps given above, you will not have to worry about weeds for a long time coming.
Also, there are many modern propane torches available in the market, which make weeding as easy as it can get hence saving you a substantial amount of time otherwise spent on the farm.
IW’s Chief Editor and a lover of green spaces.