How does flame weeding work?

A Quick Guide To Weed Control With A RED DRAGON® Torch

When flame weeding, the most effective method is to catch weeds early, from 1-4 inches. At this small stage, flaming is nearly 100% effective at killing weeds, whereas weeds over 4 inches are more difficult to kill without multiple flamings.


You do not want to burn weeds to ash! On smaller weeds, a slow walk is usually the best pace - just a split second of heat should kill unwanted weeds and grasses completely - you don't need to burn them to a crisp. By nature, some grasses will return following a flaming. Repeat applications, however, will usually do the trick. For best results, increase exposure to the heat if weeds are wet from dew. Water on the leaves acts as insulation and decreases cell damage unless exposure time is increased. Note: it is ok to flame when it is wet out. In fact, we recommend it.  Moisture will lessen the threat of ignition of dry debris.


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 through 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 kill 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.