Written by: Clive Harris
Weeds can be stubborn and prove a nuisance for gardeners. Even if your garden is mostly patio, weeds can still rear their ugly heads between the slabs and ruin its neat appearance.
Weed burners offer a great way to stop weeds in their tracks. Producing a large amount of heat in a concentrated area, they can be held directly over the offending weeds, burning them and killing them off. They are designed to cause the cells inside weeds to explode, so even when the damage isn’t immediately visible, the treated weed will die over time.
Most weed burners have a maximum temperature of around 650°C, although some burn hotter, so they can bring some serious heat to the battle of the weeds!
The following information will help you decide whether a weed burner is right for you, and which style of weed burner to look out for:
The Benefits of Using a Weed Burner
They eliminate the necessity to use chemical weed killers. This is great for a number of reasons. Chemical products aren’t good for the environment and they can also affect more than just weeds. They may damage other plants or kill wildlife. What’s more, they can prove hazardous for pets, so you have to be really careful when using them.
They make it easier to ‘spot attack’ a particular weed. Whilst other weed-killing methods are more generalised, applied as a spray or granule, you are in full control when using a weed burner. Only the area covered by the nozzle will be affected by heat.
They’re lightweight and less effort than other weed-removal methods. Picking weeds out by hand can be time consuming and painful on the knees. Similarly, mixing herbicides can take a while as they need to be prepared properly. By contrast, a weed burner can be used whilst standing and takes very little time to heat up.
Weed killers can come in handy for other tasks too, such as thawing ice, stripping paint, and lighting the BBQ. As a result, they’re not only useful to have around in the spring and summer, but during winter too.
Weed Burner Type
There are two main styles when it comes to weed burners: gas-powered burners and mains-powered burners. Naturally, there are pros and cons to each type.
Gas-Powered Weed Burners
These weed burners can reach extremely high temperatures – often over 1000°C. As a result, they are extremely effective at quickly killing off weeds.
Most of the time they will kill a weed in just one session, damaging its roots sufficiently so that it won’t grow back.
They are also cordless, making them easy to carry around without any restrictions. This means that there is also no tripping hazard as there would be with a mains-powered burner, and no chance of accidentally burning through a cable.
However, there are also some negatives to gas burners. They tend to be heavier than mains-powered models, and you need to make sure that you have a way to safely store the gas canisters.
Due to the fact that they work with a visible flame, they are also more likely to scorch hard surfaces such as patios and driveways. Burning fuel also causes fumes and releases greenhouse gases, making gas burners less environmentally friendly than their mains-powered counterparts.
Mains-Powered Weed Burners
These electric weed burners don’t use an open flame which can make them feel safer than using a gas-powered machine. They do still get extremely hot, often reaching temperatures of 600°C or more, so need to be used with care.
Some electric weed burners are very light and can be used with one hand, this makes them easy to manoeuvre and control (and also means that the spare hand can be used to keep the power cable out of the way).
They’re a more environmentally friendly option compared to gas weed burners; however, because don’t get as hot it can take more applications to fully kill off weeds. Electric weed burners may need to be used several times, several weeks apart, to get rid of weeds completely.
The main drawback of an electric weed burner is being restricted by the power cable. Some models have cables that are less than 2 metres long, so you almost always have to pull an extension around with you. It’s also possible to find burners with longer cables, commonly around 5 metres, but an extension cable might still be needed.
Some of the best weed burners will have two temperature options, offering a low and high temperature. This is more common with electric weed burners than gas-powered ones.
It’s good to have the choice because the low temperature setting is useful for other tasks, such as lighting the BBQ in summer or melting ice in the winter.
The high temperature setting is the one used to really do damage against weeds. The higher the temperature of your weed burner, the more effective it will be.
One thing to bear in mind, of course, is to be really careful when using a weed burner; these are some serious temperatures we’re talking about.
Make sure to leave it somewhere secure after use – not lying around where the kids might find it – and let it cool down completely before storing.
As well as variable temperature settings, electric weed burners can be adjustable in other ways.
Whilst some units only come with one nozzle attachment – usually a cone shaped nozzle for targeting a small area – others can come with various options included.
Depending on what you’re hoping the use the weed burner for, you may want more attachments. For example, thinner nozzles can be used to targeting and isolate specific weeds, potentially causing less damage to surrounding grass.
If a weed burner has several nozzles, it will likely be more suitable for more completing a variety of tasks. For example, flat nozzles can allow weed burners to be used to strip paint (if recommended by the instructions).
An extendable handle can be beneficial for two reasons. One, you can adjust the length of the unit to suit your height, improving the comfort of your experience. Two, you can make the unit smaller when it comes to tidying it away, making it easier to store.
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