Weed management is rarely at the top of anyone’s list of desirable to-dos. Bending over and pulling weeds is a lot of work, and it’s rarely a permanent solution. Spraying weed killer isn’t the best alternative since the chemicals aren’t good for grass or the pollinators that may land or feed on those weeds.
Instead of breaking your back or introducing harmful chemicals into your lawn’s ecosystem, consider smoking out those pesky plants with a weed torch. These handheld torches run on propane and focus a small but scorching flame on stubborn invasive weeds. This guide helps shoppers choose the best weed torch for a particular yard or garden.
We tested the following weed torches in our lawns, vegetable gardens, and ornamental landscape beds. Read on to find out how we selected these models, how they performed on our backyard tests, and which may be the best weed torch for your lawn and garden maintenance needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Red Dragon VT 1-32C 25,000 BTU Mini Weed Dragon Torch
- RUNNER-UP: Flame King YSN340K Auto Ignition Propane Torch
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Flame King YSNPQ810CGA Propane Torch Weed Burner
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Red Dragon BP 2512 SVC 400,000 Backpack Weed Torch
- BEST FOR GRAVEL: Gaspony TB-PFP Power Flame Pro 500,000 Propane Torch
- BEST FOR PAVERS: Flame King YSNPQ820S Wide Flame Propane Torch Burner
- BEST FOR GARDEN: Houseables 20,000 BTU Weed Torch Propane Burner
- ALSO CONSIDER: Ausail 50,000 BTU Weed Torch Propane Burner
How We Tested the Best Weed Torches
We set up our weed torch testing regimen to simulate real-world working conditions. We spent more than 6 hours, or an average of about 45 minutes per torch, in testing. In addition to the operational tests outlined below, we evaluated ease of assembly, operator comfort, effectiveness in killing weeds, and durability. After assembling each torch according to the manufacturer’s instructions, we installed fuel tanks, tested for leaks, and recorded the weight and dimensions of each unit.
We assigned specific areas of the lawn, vegetable garden, and landscape beds to specific torches and labeled the areas accordingly. Each area contained similar coverage of weeds and desirable plants, and the terrain was also comparable from one plot to the next. One at a time, we lit the torches and treated the assigned spaces. Walking at a slow pace, we passed the flame across any weed leaves and stems without stopping. The intense heat desiccated the green leaves, and there was no need to char them.
After the treatment, we evaluated the weed dieback and monitored for regrowth. We inspected each space 3, 7, and 14 days after the initial treatment. After recording the Day 14 observations, we treated each area a second time. Finally, we entered our observations on a scoring rubric to help clarify an overall evaluation and award recommendations for each tool.
Our Top Picks
We’ve identified and tested some of the best weed torches on the market. Our lineup includes compact tools, heavy-duty models, and high-powered torches for a broad spectrum of property types and users. Read the individual product reviews ahead to learn more about them and to find the best option for specific uses.
For large properties or small gardens, the Red Dragon Mini Weed Dragon’s compact and streamlined design makes an affordable, effective choice. While it does have a full-length 34-inch handle, its trim profile makes it a breeze to pack in a truck or UTV for remote property maintenance and easy to store in a small space.
The Mini Weed Dragon features a built-in gas-flow regulator that allows it to produce up to 25,000 BTUs. The foam-wrapped handle makes it comfortable and easy to control with a 1-pound propane bottle attached. While its lack of a built-in starter does make it more streamlined, starting will require using the included manual striker.
After our side-by-side tests of five compact weed torches, we awarded the Mini Dragon Best Overall due to its lightweight compact design, ease of use, durability, and effectiveness. It works with nonrefillable 1-pound or 14-ounce propane cartridges sold in hardware, home improvement, and camping stores and has no moving parts other than the gas-flow control knob. Simply screw on the gas cartridge, open the valve, and use the striker to spark the gas at the end of the bell. The flame was strong enough to quickly kill weed foliage and stems and gentle enough to target individual weeds without damaging good plants nearby. It would be a good choice for lawns and actively growing flower or vegetable gardens.
This was the only compact weed torch in our sample group that did not include a built-in igniter, and it seemed to perform better because of it. The included striker worked with a single strike every time, but each of the models with igniters worked less reliably for different reasons detailed in the reviews ahead.
- Output: 25,000 BTUs
- Fuel source: 14- or 16-ounce fuel canister (not included)
- Reach: 34 inches
- Strong pinpoint flame quickly kills weeds without damaging nearby plants
- Compact and lightweight construction makes it easy to transport, carry, and store
- Ergonomic design works efficiently with less user fatigue
- Includes a long-lasting friction striker that works more reliably than built-in igniters
- Igniter is not integrated into the design, so it could be easy to misplace
Read our full review: Red Dragon VT 1-32C 25,000 BTU Mini Weed Dragon Torch
Get the Red Dragon mini weed torch at Amazon or Ace Hardware.
When it comes to killing weeds in a large area, like a gravel driveway or a paver patio, or to prepare bare soil for planting, a heavy-duty weed torch gets the job done fast. The Flame King YSN340K propane torch is a cost-effective and easy-to-use option.
The torch wand with gas hose comes fully assembled and ready to use, but it does not include a propane cylinder. Simply attach the hose to a propane tank, turn on the gas at the tank, open the flow-control valve on the wand, and press the igniter button. Squeeze the trigger on the wand to switch from a “pilot” flame to the powerful 340,000-BTU weed-killing inferno.
The three heavy-duty weed torches we tested ranged between this 340,000-BTU model up to one capable of producing 500,000 BTUs. All did an excellent job killing broad expanses of weeds with high heat. Of the three, we preferred the Flame King YSN340K auto ignition weed torch for two reasons. First, it is extremely compact for easy storage. Most users only need a weed torch a few times a year and then store it for months at a time. Since this kit is made up of just a hose and wand, it is easy to tuck away. Secondly, the other two systems cost six and seven times more than this one, respectively.
This weed burner was easy to start, offered a range up to 9 feet from the tank (6 feet of hose plus a 3-foot wand), and produced a very strong flame. The trigger mechanism worked well, and the angled wand was comfortable to use. The only weak point was, unlike the backpack and two-wheel cart systems we tested, we had to carry the heavy propane tank to and around the work space by hand. This made it more awkward and more tiring for extended use.
- Output: 340,000 BTUs
- Fuel source: 20-pound propane cylinder (not included)
- Reach: 9 feet
- 340,000-BTU output is ideal for sterilizing seed beds before planting or killing large areas of weeds
- Kit includes only the necessary hose and wand attachment, making it very affordable
- Long 9-foot reach from a single position means less need to move the tank
- Built-in igniter eliminates the need to carry a striker
- Carrying the tank by hand is heavy and awkward, especially for extended use
Get the Flame King auto ignition weed torch at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
Taking weeds out permanently doesn’t have to burn through the bank account. The Flame King propane torch weed burner is up to the task while saving users a bit of cash. This lightweight torch produces up to 24,000 BTUs, which is enough for breaking down most weeds in just a few seconds. It comes with everything necessary to attach it to a standard 1-pound propane bottle.
While it’s budget-friendly, this Flame King isn’t short on features. It has a 33-inch-long wand with a built-in push-button starter for safe starts. It also has an adjustable gas-flow control valve for dialing up the perfect flame and features a nonslip molded rubber grip, ensuring users maintain control while cooking weeds.
In our tests, the Flame King YSNPQ810CGA weed burner performed nearly identically to our Best Overall pick but at about half the price. Attaching a gas cartridge to the torch was easy to do, and the built-in igniter worked pretty well—although not perfectly. The pinpoint flame easily targeted individual weeds with high heat, without harming adjacent plants.
Although it served its purpose, we didn’t love the igniter. Its position halfway down the tube seems to be intended for user convenience but may actually hinder the functionality. On several occasions, startup required multiple clicks before the flame ignited while we could smell the gas flow. It wasn’t a major hassle since it ultimately worked, and some users may prefer the all-in-one convenience. But to us, the system felt less user-friendly than the simple and effective striker method. Also, the thin rubber grip was somewhat less comfortable for extended use compared to a cushioned grip.
- Output: 24,000 BTUs
- Fuel source: 1-pound canister (not included)
- Reach: 33 inches
- Easy-to-use flame control valve adjusts flame size for different applications
- 33-inch reach effectively targets individual weeds at ground level without harming nearby plants
- Lightweight and compact design makes the torch easy to use, carry, and store
- Integrated ignition system requires no batteries and eliminates the need for a striker
- The ignition system performed less reliably than a striker tool
- Smaller flame works very slowly; not compatible for working in large areas
Get the Flame King YSNPQ810CGA weed torch at Amazon or The Home Depot.
To control weeds in all areas of the landscape, especially on large properties and remote areas, access is often the biggest barrier. The Red Dragon backpack weed torch makes it easy to kill weeds wherever users can walk. With the included 10-pound gas cylinder attached to the pack’s steel frame, and with deeply padded shoulder straps and hip belt to cushion the load, users can safely, securely, and comfortably operate the torch while hiking on rugged ground.
This torch features a 30-inch wand with adjustable gas-flow control valve and trigger flame controller. Squeezing the trigger instantly increases output from a slow pilot flame to maximum heat. The wand produces up to 400,000 BTUs to treat larger areas efficiently. This is an excellent choice for farms, large gardens, parking lots, and long gravel driveways. Full assembly is required and takes about 20 minutes to complete. The ignition system is manual by means of an included striker tool.
Although the Red Dragon backpack weed torch has a premium price tag, it comes with its own rightsized refillable fuel cylinder (about half the size of the type typically used for gas grills) and a high-quality mounting system that proved itself capable of hard use and comfortable operation. In general, we were equally impressed by the high heat output as well as how easy it was to carry the torch around.
Adjusting the shoulder straps and hip belt properly took some trial and error, but we finally got it perfect after about 10 minutes. The only change we could ask for would be the addition of a sternum strap for more security and comfort.
Like the other heavy-duty torches we tested, this one was very effective for covering large areas but even more efficient because we didn’t need to move a cart or carry a tank separately. Due to the strong flame, this torch easily incinerates good plants as well as weeds, so mindful operation is critical at all times.
- Output: 400,000 BTUs
- Fuel source: 10-pound fuel cylinder
- Reach: 30 inches
- Compact refillable propane tank is included with the kit
- Large fuel capacity allows for extended use on sizable properties
- Backpack harness allows for comfortable and easy movement over uneven terrain
- 400,000-BTU vapor torch covers a large area for fast, efficient weed control
- Professional-quality components include steel pack frame, heavy-duty straps, and an all-brass wand
- Premium price for a professional quality tool; may be an excessive investment for many users
- Assembly was more complicated than that of the other weed torches tested
Get the Red Dragon backpack weed torch at Amazon, Gemplers, or Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
There’s no need to kill weeds with chemicals in a gravel driveway thanks to the extreme heat of the Gaspony Power Flame Pro. It puts out 500,000 BTUs for outstanding weed-control capability on hard-to-treat surfaces like gravel. Higher heat penetrates deeper into the loose aggregate surface to kill weeds as well as seeds before they emerge.
This flame weeder comes with its own refillable tank; two-wheel tank cart with tank retainer strap and 10-inch pneumatic tires; a 10-foot gas hose; and 30-inch wand with flow-control valve, flame trigger, and auto-start igniter. Some assembly is required.
The Gaspony Power Flame Pro exhibited two standout features in our tests: extremely high heat production and easy access on any firm surface. The massive flame it produced worked fast and effectively to kill weeds in a gravel area, in cracked pavement, and in several other wide open spaces. The large air-filled tires rolled easily over gravel and grassy areas while the tank stayed firmly in place. In loose sand, the going was a bit tougher, and in mud it was a no-go. This would be an excellent pick for keeping gravel driveways, paved parking areas, and paver patios weed free, or for pretreating empty veggie gardens before planting.
The overall quality of this weed burner felt strong and durable. The automatic igniter worked more reliably than any of the others we tested, and the hose and all of the fittings and wand components were good quality. The only drawbacks to this unit are the expense and the size. It’s the largest and the most expensive torch we tested, so it’s probably best suited for those who will use it frequently.
- Output: 500,000 BTUs
- Fuel source: 20-pound fuel cylinder
- Reach: 10 feet
- Includes vacuum-purged and ready-to-fill (or to exchange) 20-pound propane cylinder
- 2-wheel cart with 10-inch pneumatic tires for easy access across firm ground
- Sturdy cart is compatible with 20-, 30-, and 40-pound gas cylinders
- 10-foot gas hose offers extended reach without repositioning the tank
- High heat output penetrates below the surface and efficiently treats large open areas
- Large, heavy, and bulky system requires more storage space than other models
- Premium price point for maximum heat output and professional-grade components
Get the Gaspony weed torch at Tractor Supply Co. or Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
Outdoor living spaces like patios and entryways are not the best place to spray weed killers, and big bulky flame weeders often aren’t practical. That’s where the Flame King wide flame weeder may be a solution. It incorporates a compact, lightweight build with a wide flame pattern, making it a convenient choice for flame-weeding pavers and other hard surfaces.
This wide-flame weed torch features a comfortable molded plastic grip, integrated push-button igniter located at the top of the handle, and a gas-flow control knob to adjust the flame size. Instead of a pinpoint flame like the other compact models tested, this unit makes a 5-inch-wide flame that efficiently treats a wider area for faster coverage. The tool comes fully assembled and ready to use; just add a nonrefillable 1-pound or 14-ounce fuel cartridge.
Using the Flame King wide flame weeder, we completed weeding a 250-square-foot area in 12 minutes versus an average of 23 minutes with the pinpoint flame weeders. The wider flame weeded faster and more thoroughly, with less regrowth 3, 7, and 14 days after weeding, compared to all of the others.
The igniter worked fairly well and was installed in a better position on the tool than any of the others. Also, at 38 inches long, this weeder offered excellent reach without bending. The diffused heat of the wide flame made it more difficult to target specific weeds without collateral damage, so it may not be the best tool for working in a veggie garden during the growing season, but for smallish paved areas, it was a pleasure to work with.
- Output: Not listed
- Fuel source: 1-pound fuel canister (not included)
- Reach: 38 inches
- Flame-control valve and igniter are conveniently positioned at the top of the handle
- Molded handle and balanced design make this one of the most comfortable small torches to use
- Compact, lightweight wide-flame torch is well designed for small paved areas
- Diffused heat makes it harder to target specific weeds among desirable plants
Get the Flame King wide flame torch at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
Home gardeners looking to tackle weeds may want to consider the Houseables weed torch propane burner. This lightweight model attaches directly to 1-pound propane or MAPP gas canisters, allowing plenty of portability. Its 20,000 BTUs can handle most stubborn weeds; the slip-resistant handle offers safe, comfortable handling; and the 34-inch length makes reaching weeds easy without bending over.
This weed torch features a self-igniting mechanism that allows the user to start without putting hands anywhere near the business end of the torch. A flame control valve allows for adjusting the flow of propane or MAPP gas, providing optimal fuel efficiency from a smaller gas canister.
As with the other compact weed torches tested, this Houseables model produced a pinpoint flame fueled by a nonrefillable propane cartridge. It was very easy to use, came fully assembled, and proved capable of killing weeds in the garden with minimal risk to desirable plants.
We liked the balance of the curved handle configuration and the cushioned foam grip. Overall it felt sturdy, with a slightly smaller maximum flame size than similar designs by Red Dragon and Flame King—a plus when weeding among established flowers and vegetable plants in a garden. The igniter typically worked on the second or third click, which was about average among the models with igniters.
- Output: 20,000 BTUs
- Fuel source: 1-pound propane or MAPP tank (not included)
- Reach: 34 inches
- Long 34-inch reach allows the user to work from an upright position easily
- Nonslip ergonomic grip adds safety and comfort for extended use
- Compact and lightweight for comfortable operation and easy storage
- Narrow flame tip allows for precision weeding among desirable plants
- Small flame not as effective for weeding large open spaces
Get the Houseables weed torch at Amazon.
Not all weeds need the heaviest firepower to burn them into submission. For light-duty jobs, Ausail’s weed torch might be the way to go. This weed torch produces 50,000 BTUs, which is more than enough for weed eradication while still remaining lightweight and easy to use.
The Ausail weed torch propane burner features a straight-handled design with a contoured grip, providing comfortable handling while burning light-duty weeds. It also features a built-in starter that allows the user to start this model without putting their hands anywhere near the nozzle. When it comes to controlling the 50,000-BTU output, the flame control valve allows the user to ramp up the output or minimize it, providing control over flame and fuel consumption.
The unique straight design of the Ausail weed torch was well balanced and comfortable to use. Due to its shorter reach, it may be best for limited use or for smaller operators. The construction appeared less durable than the others we tested, with thinner, lighter-weight metals. The igniter became loose when we dropped the torch onto the concrete driveway from waist height.
One helpful aspect was that the torch took up very little space in storage. It may be convenient to keep it tucked away near the patio or other high-use space to spontaneously kill weeds whenever they arise.
While the Ausail weed torch effectively pinpointed weeds, similarly to the other compact torches we tested, we were suspicious about the 50,000-BTU output claim. We did not have the means to test BTU output, but it appeared to produce a smaller flame than the models claiming 20,000 to 25,000 BTUs.
- Output: 50,000 BTUs
- Fuel source: 14-ounce canister (not included)
- Reach: 32 inches
- Compact and lightweight design makes it easy to use and easy to store
- Adjustable flame helps to conserve gas and target output based on weed size
- Nonslip contoured grip for comfortable and secure operation
- Short length and lightweight materials make this model best suited for limited use
- 50,000-BTU output claim seems inflated
Get the Ausail weed torch at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing a Weed Torch
Between how a torch works and lights to its size and features, choosing this gardening tool does take a bit of background research. It’s important to understand how these tools function and to evaluate the area to be treated before scorching those dandelions. The following are a few important shopping considerations to keep in mind while searching for the best weed torch.
Lightweight vs. Heavy-Duty
There are two styles of weed torches: lightweight and heavy-duty. Lightweight weed torches, equipped with bent tubes that attach to a small 1-pound propane gas canister, are the more portable option. Heavy-duty torches are for large-scale jobs and have hoses that can connect to a full-size 20-pound tank.
Choosing between the two styles is really a matter of preference, but here are a few points to help decide between the two.
- Easily portable
- Operate with lower temperatures
- Lack volume for extended use
- Do not use refillable tanks
- Offer plenty of volume for long burns
- May have adjustable flame
- Use refillable propane tanks
- Heavy and difficult to carry around
- May be noisy
There are generally two ways to light a torch: via built-in igniters or manual strikers.
Built-in igniters work similarly to the striker used to light a barbecue grill. They’re usually attached to the tube and feature a push-button spark. With the gas turned on, the striker safely lights the flame at the end of the tube. The pressure of the gas pushes the flame out to the end of the torch, and then it’s ready to kill weeds.
Manual strikers can be a little trickier to use. Similar to the strikers used in some high school chemistry classes, manual strikers need to be in proximity to gas when struck to light the flame. This could make some DIYers nervous, in which case a built-in igniter might be the better option.
When considering weeding tools, it’s important to think about the size of the area that needs to be treated. Most heavy-duty torches are meant to run on large 20-pound propane tanks, so hose length can affect maneuverability among the weeds. In general, a 10-foot hose is ideal. This length is long enough to cover a wide area, yet short enough to prevent the user from tripping or falling.
Those needing to cover a large area of land while using the torch may wish to purchase an additional cart or dolly to hold the heavy propane tank. The wheels will make moving it across the yard easier.
Some weed torches are equipped with a bell-shaped shroud at the end of the torch. This bell helps the torch to retain heat and direct the flame, creating a more efficient burn.
While efficiency is always a bonus, it’s not always necessary when it comes to weed torches. It might take a little longer to kill weeds using a lightweight model without a bell, but it’s usually only a difference of a few seconds.
A bell also helps shield other plants from the intense heat created by the flame. If the plan is to work with a torch around sensitive plants, consider a torch with a bell. Keep in mind, however, that using a torch of any kind in a mulch-laden flower bed is a bad idea.
The ability to control the flame is another important factor to consider when it comes to purchasing a new weed burner, as too much heat may cause the user to unintentionally burn valuable plants with a large flame. Plus, without an adjustable flame, users may run through a canister of propane before covering their entire yard.
Most of the products featured in this guide include control valves that can be dialed up or down to throttle the amount of fuel passing through the wand. Some heavy-duty torches feature boost handles that can temporarily increase the size and temperature of the flame. Simply squeeze the valve to increase the volume and pressure for tougher weeds and release it to return it to its normal setting.
It’s important to review the heat rating for potential weed torches. Rather than using degrees Fahrenheit (which won’t describe output of the torch), torch heat ratings are quantified using BTUs, and there is a wide range of BTU ratings available.
Most weed burnersproduce at least 20,000 BTUs, which is plenty of heat for burning a weed. Heavy-duty models can produce up to 500,000 BTUs, which isn’t usually needed for common yard weeds. A torch that offers between 20,000 and 100,000 BTUs is often more than adequate.
As a general rule, weed torches aren’t inherently safe. They don’t have a safety valve, they produce lots of heat, and their nozzles get very hot. Gloves and safety glasses help protect users, but there simply isn’t much one can do to make a weed tool like this 100 percent safe.
Features such as built-in gas-control valves, built-in trigger starts, and hoses of safe lengths can reduce some of the risks involved in burning yard weeds. A built-in igniter ensures that the user’s hand is kept a safe distance away from the flame, while the gas-control valve helps throttle back the amount of flame the torch produces to keep things under control. Using a hose of proper length can prevent users from tripping.
Crucial safety tip: Never use a torch or flame of any sort to remove poison ivy. The oil that poison ivy produces (urushiol) is what causes skin blisters and other painful reactions. When the plant burns, that oil attaches to the smoke particles and can travel through airways and land on skin, causing potentially serious health hazards.
Tips for Using a Weed Torch
In general, a quick blast of heat will break down the cells that weeds need to grow, even if they don’t turn completely black. The best time to use a weed torch is on a wind-still day after a good soaking rain. While weed torches are safe if used properly, the soaked terrain will help reduce the risk of an accident, and low wind speeds help keep the flames controllable.
Always keep a hose or a bucket of water nearby while burning weeds, and remove leaves and debris from the area before torching the weeds. Leaves and debris will burn much faster than weeds, and passing over them with a lit torch can lead to an unintended fire in no time.
- A quick pass of heat is often enough to kill a weed without charring it to embers.
- Use on a calm day with no wind and after it has rained to torch weeds safely.
- Keep water on hand and remove leaves and debris before torching weeds.
If you want more info about buying or using the best weed torches, read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these garden tools.
Q. How does a weed torch work?
Weed torches use propane-fueled flames to cook the cells inside of a weed, inhibiting its ability to use sunlight (or photosynthesis) for energy and growth.
Q. How hot do weed torches get?
Weed burners vary in their heat output, with some models producing more than others. Common torches range between 20,000 and 500,000 BTUs.
Q. Can a weed torch help with poison ivy?
Burning poison ivy is a bad idea. The oil in poison ivy, oak, or sumac that causes itchy blisters is called urushiol. If you burn these plants, the oil attaches itself to the smoke particles, which can land in your lungs and cause serious respiratory irritation.
Q. Do I need to reduce the weed to ash or simply brown it to destroy it?
Generally speaking, burning the weeds to charred ash isn’t necessary. Simply heating the plant for a few seconds until it wilts should be enough to destroy it.
Q. How do you start a weed burner?
Starting a weed burner is typically very easy. Start by attaching the propane to the wand, or the hose to the propane tank, depending on the model. Next, open the valve on the propane tank, if it has one. Then open the valve on the wand to let some gas pass through. Finally, press the built-in igniter or use a striker held (safely) near the nozzle while striking to light the weed torch.
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