A propane weed torch is the latest and greatest item on
every home improvement guy's (and gal's) "got to have it" list. These nifty little devices kill weeds by
giving them a quick blast of high-intensity heat and causing them to wilt. If your aim is good, then the plants you
want to keep will remain unscathed, and you'll have a weed-free garden or yard,
minus the need for nasty herbicides and loud, high-maintenance string trimmers.
When shopping for a propane weed burner, beware of cheap
imitations. I'm talking about the
so-called "weed burner/ice melter" combinations you'll see on display at your
local discount store. These devices
have a simple length of curved metal tubing that hooks up to a disposable
1-pound propane tank. I've tried in
vain to find a BTU rating for these cheap weed torches and have come up
empty-handed. That's because they don't
get hot enough to fry anything more than the occasional stray weedÃ¢ÂÂand if
occasional spot weeding is all you need, a trowel is a lot cheaper.
A real weed torch has an output of at least 100,000 BTUs and works from a refillable propane tank, not a tiny disposable tank. These high-powered torches don't cost much more than the cheap imitations, but they really do the job. Not only can they take out large areas of weeds, but they use fuel much more efficiently because you're not standing there with the flame running full blast waiting for the plant to heat up enough to kill it. Propane is cheap. Disposable propane cylinders aren't.
A good weed torch will need some accessories. In addition to the tank (which you can get
at any store that does propane tank exchanges for gas BBQ grills), you'll need
a way to carry it around while you kill weeds.
Most users attach the tank to a cart or dolly. The high-end weed torches come with a hose so you don't have to
move the tank constantly while you work, but you might choose to buy a longer
one for convenience.
Anytime you have propane gas and a live flame in the same vicinity, there are some precautions you need to follow. Always inspect your equipment to make sure the fittings are tight and there are no leaks. Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose handy in case things get out of hand, and don't work during dry conditions where you might start a fire. Don't get carried away trying to burn each weed to ash. These devices work best when you apply just enough heat to wilt the plant, not burn it to a crisp. Finally, keep the weed torch away from poison ivy, so the smoke doesn't get into your lungs.