How to use boiling water to kill weeds

Weeds find ways to grow around us, even if we don’t want them to. They grow in gardens, sidewalks, and open spaces. In an open field, if you have ever seen dandelions and notice how pretty they are, remember they are weeds too. Weeds are pesky plants in our garden that often destroy the planned or desirable plants. I am sure every amateur gardener would have thought about destroying these weeds organically, like using hot water.

If you want to use a natural alternative to get rid of weeds, boiling water can be used. The easiest method is to pour the boiling water over the weeds and ensure it penetrates the ground where the weeds are growing. Then cover your hands and carry the pot over to the designated area and pour over the weeds.

Weed is actually a plant that is in the wrong place. The unwanted plants that grow in controlled settings like farms or a garden are weeds. They could be normal plants or actual weeds that stop the growth of the desirable plants. They are usually invasive, and care has to be taken to remove them.

What Are Weeds & Why Are They Undesirable?

Weeds are usually unwanted plants that grow in controlled spaces. It also applies to plants that grow aggressively or are invasive outside their natural habitat.

If weeds constantly overrun your garden rows, ask yourself what those are and why they are growing there. Put down the hoe long enough to consider what the weeds are telling you.

Sarah Owens, from their book entitled Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More

Weeds can interfere with human activities, and hence, multiple ways have been developed to deal with them.  They are either eliminated or suppressed by us.

Weeds and how they can ruin gardens to even cement

Another huge issue to consider when dealing with weeds is that they can grow their roots in locations that can kill plants or even destroy the structural integrity of your home.

You’ve probably seen sidewalks that undesired roots have destroyed; you should remember that the damage weeds can cause is not just what’s visible to the naked eye. It can spread and become an issue all over your yard and home.

Why is the hot water method effective against weeds?

People have been using hot water to manage weeds since the 1880s. It may not be the best method for mass weed eliminations, but it still works for small patches.

Small farms still use the boiling water method to eradicate weeds, known as thermal weed control.

The logic behind this is the transfer of heat energy onto the plant, leading to the distortion of plant cells. It is much more effective than air or steam and is one of the most effective energy transfer methods.

Benefits to using the hot water method to eradicate weeds

Water flows underground easily and hence reaches the roots faster. It is more effective than air or steam as they rise quickly to the surface.

Fumigation is a popular method to clear out weeds. Still, the vast majority of the chemicals enter the air and cannot actually have a long-lasting effect on the weeds. The chemicals that enter the air can also have an adverse environmental effect on your other plants.

Boiling Water is a free way to eradicate weeds

Water is free, and this hot water method doesn’t use any chemicals, so it is a good option. You’ll feel good knowing that you can get rid of all of your weeds without harming your other plants or the climate.

Putting boiling water on weeds ensure that it never grows back

So, if you took water and boiled it to a high temperature, then that can be as deadly as toxic herbicides to the plants. And if you pour it on a seed or a plant, it will probably cause it to die. So this also works for weeds along the sidewalks and driveways.

Pouring boiling water on weeds is a great tip for all gardeners who are sick of cutting the weeds off. 

Too many people think they can get rid of weeds by cutting the tops; if you don’t get down to the roots, you will be completely ineffective.

How to handle weeds with hot water?

Hot water is a natural weed killer and non-toxic. In fact, hot water can kill any plants, so you need to keep in mind that you can only use it on isolated weeds when you’re using it.

You don’t want to dump boiling water on weeds in your grass because you’ll end up killing the grass around the weeds. Also, remember that you need to be careful while using this method to eliminate weeds. To have the rundown before doing the process, it is best to have the following things at hand:

Longer pantsLong-sleeved shirt
Big socksClosed-toed shoes
TeakettleOven mitt or glove

Here are the steps that you can follow to use this method carefully.

Dress in proper attire for safety before using boiling water to kill weeds

Wear full pants, a full-sleeved shirt, and closed shoes. It would help if you prevented skin exposure to avoid accidental burns. So don’t forget the less you expose your skin, the better for you, and it will actually help you avoid any unnecessary burns to your skin.

Even so, make sure you’re careful with the boiling water; you can still burn yourself even through your clothes.

Identify the weeds or plants in your garden before killing them off with boiling water

A crucial thing to do is identify the weeds you will use the hot boiling water method on, and you want to remove them. So be careful because if you hit any other plant on accident, the chances are that it will be dead in a couple of minutes.

Types of Weeds that you should look out for

The identification of weeds is the best way to ensure proper elimination. Lawn weeds can be categorized into 3 main types.

Weed typeDescription
Broadleaf grassThese are grass weeds with broadly shaped leaves and are commonly found in North American home yards.
SedgesThis grass has attractive colors and is textured, while the stem is triangular. If you are landscaping, you may choose to keep it or eliminate it if you want the yard to look uniform.
Any undesirable leafy plants or grass can be classified as weeds. Even if the plant is not technically a weed if you want it off your property or a nuisance, it is a weed to you.

Mapping out which are the pests and your precious plants is important so as not to damage the latter. So you better stick to sidewalks or outlying parts of the garden.

Do this if most of your lawn or garden is covered with weeds

There might also be times when weeds have completely overrun your garden, and you want to get rid of everything. In that case, you can go and dump the boiling water everywhere, clear out the area, and try planting new plants all around the yard.

That’s what’s nice about the hot water method; it’s quick and easy and can be done to small or large areas with ease.

Heating Process of your water for eradicating weeds

Fill a kettle with water and put it to a boil. The water is to be heated to a temperature of at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure that you check that temperature before going outside and start pouring the water.

Be quick with the travel time of your boiling water from your stove to the weeds

Also, be sure you go as quickly as possible after heating the water to the weeds. The water will rapidly decrease in temperature as you move it off the stove and into the garden.

The Process of Killing the Weeds with boiling water

Protect hands with gloves or oven mitts before taking the kettle outside. Be quick and careful. Head to the weed patch.

The water will cool down fast, so you need to be fast during the travel from the stove to the weeds.

Hold the spout just above the weeds and pour water on the weeds carefully. Aim for the roots and avoids plashing.

Pour the boiling water directly on to the weeds

You should also try and pour it as close as you can to the weeds so that it cannot cool off in the air; otherwise, it won’t be as effective and might not kill the plants.

If that happens, the weeds will grow back, and you’ll have to restart the entire process, so make sure you get it right the first time, and you won’t have to deal with doing it again!

Avoid any unnecessary splashes with the boiling water when eradicating weeds

The scalding water should impact only the weeds, so kneel or squat for best results. We know that this will be hard, and it is tough, but be very kind and friendly while pouring the boiling water.

The best way for you to pour over the boiling water onto the weeds is to squat and start pouring the water down from a shallow height.

This will help you in reducing the chances for the boiling water to splash in the other plants. This will also help you stay safe as you’re pouring the water onto the weeds. Boiling water can cause severe burns in less than a second and burn through clothes, so this is one of the most important things to remember when using this method to take out your weeds.

Tips on Weed Management

Gardeners and farmers know how difficult it is to keep weeds at bay. You need to constantly watch out for these pesky plants because they can quickly take over your garden if they are left unchecked. Here are some tips for effective weed management.

  • It is best to pull out the weeds completely when the soil is wet. The roots can’t hold on tight to soft wet soil.
  • Use gloves to grip the weed from the roots and pull them out. Holding on to leaves will mean that only the top part is pulled out.
  • Try using tools like a trowel to loosen the soil around the weed, but don’t cut into the weed, lest the seeds will spread. Once pulled out, place weeds in a bucket to prevent seed spread.
  • Remember that weeds must be handled from the roots. If you pull up weeds then some roots may remain, so be cautious while pulling them up. Any time you leave behind living roots, you should keep in mind that the weeds will have a chance to grow back.

Regarding the pulling of weeds method, to aid you in the process, I have recently written an article on pulling weeds and just how effective they are for eradicating them. It covers the benefits of doing said weed pulling, the many drawbacks too in doing so, as well as other methods you can look into to eradicate weeds, once and for all effectively. It will be a good companion article to look into with this one.

Pull the weeds after pouring in the boiled water

In line with that, a great way to make sure you get rid of the weeds for good is to use the boiling water method and then pull up the dead weed.

That way, you’ll kill the roots and get rid of the issue; if anything is left behind, it will already be dead and won’t be able to grow back again.


Conclusion on using boiling water to kill weeds

While there may be many ways to eradicate weeds, using boiling water is considered one of the most effective ways to do so. Other methods can take up hours to days of constant effort, time, and reapplication, while this one, when done right, can solve your problems the first time.

When doing this, make sure to properly keep potted or precious plants away from where you are pouring boiling water to keep them safe. This is also a reminder to use this method wisely and keep your kids, pets, or anyone away from the general vicinity when doing this process.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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