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Old 01/31/12, 10:18 PM
Blackbear's Avatar  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Virginia
Posts: 64
Burning stumps

Has anyone done this before? If it as easy as drilling wholes in the stump and pouring in kerosene? I was told this method by a friend not sure if it is safe or not but I have 2 large stumps that need to go, sure would not like to pay $300 to have them grinded.Anyone have any experience here?

Thanks Andy:


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Old 01/31/12, 10:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: NE Oklahoma
Posts: 1,150

Rent a backhoe cheaper than that? Been taking out some from time to time. One out Sunday afternoon. Hickory about 18" dia. Cut about 5 years ago, still green underground, was very hard to get out, but it is out.

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Old 01/31/12, 11:09 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: SE Oklahoma
Posts: 1,982

Has been my experience that burning, or trying to burn out a green stump is a waste of time and money. Especially if the ground is damp or wet. If you char the wood, the soil microbes will not touch it. Using potassium nitrate or plain old nitrogen fertilizer would work faster than burning. Drill holes in the stump and place the nitrogen in them. Drill some holes in the soil around the stump and apply more nitrogen.

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Old 02/01/12, 12:45 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Arkansas
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Burning a stump is easy if you drill it and pour Kerosine or diesel into it then put a barrel around and add more fuel to it then light it.


God must have loved stupid people because he made so many of them.

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Old 02/01/12, 01:01 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Eastern North Carolina
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It depends on the stump, and how big a hurry you are in to get rid of it.

Burning is fine if the stump has been dead a LONG time, and you don't mind building several large fires around it.

If it's green, don't waste the effort

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Old 02/01/12, 01:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Kerby, Oregon
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Dig around and down a bit, burn, baby burn, then let it go out, cover the hole with dirt, and forget about the stump. Burning kills it, so you don't have to worry about it re sprouting, digging let's it burn down so you can get a layer of dirt to cover it.


I don't need it to be easy, I just need to know it's possible!

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Old 02/01/12, 04:50 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,272

This is something I've heard, but haven't done myself. Supposed to work if you've got time and deer. Or maybe cattle or goats.

Dig out around the stump to about one foot below ground level. Follow any roots that are that shallow until they are exposed as well.

Drill lots of holes in the stump and roots, all slanted downwards, and the deeper the better. Pack the holes with salt. Heap salt on the top of the stump. Make a saturated brine solution, and dribble it into the holes. Let it soak in and keep topping the holes up as the liquid soaks into the stump. Heap salt around the stump as well. Then let it dry and let the animals at it. They eat the wood to get the salt.

If you've got time and no animals, do the above with ammonium nitrate or saltpetre. Once it's dry use the kerosene or diesel, and if you can shroud it with a metal drum with ventilation holes. The stump will burn much much better.

If you've got pigs drill holes in the ground around the stump with an auger and put grain in the holes. The pigs will root down to get the grain, look for more, and dig out around the stump. A stump out of the ground is a lot easier to burn than one in it.

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Old 02/01/12, 05:16 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 278
Originally Posted by Old Vet View Post
Burning a stump is easy if you drill it and pour Kerosine or diesel into it then put a barrel around and add more fuel to it then light it.

---- straight. Go take the deepest biggest bit you can drive with your drill. Perforate that stump as full of holes and as deep as you can then pour them full of diesel / fuel oil / kerosene. I have heard corks but I just covered mine with a piece of steel. Do that for a month or so filling as necessary and just let the stump soak it up. Get a 55 gallon drum and cut both ends out. I didnt cut vent holes in mine because the large roots protruding from the sides kept enough clearance for the air to enter. Otherwise a few bricks will keep it up enough to get the stack effect going. I put a bag of charcoal on it and fired it up. After a bit of tending and a few hours it as mostly gone. Certainly slower than a backhoe but cheap. Of course it likely won't burn it down completely but will get most of it and the rest of it will go away in time.
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Old 02/01/12, 06:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,037

Stumps burn pretty easily if you dig down and cut the roots (deep is better). The roots act as "straws" and wick moisture out of the soil during the burning. Rising heat causes a vacum that is replaced via the roots. My preferred "one match/no stump" method is;

1. Dig down and cut as many roots as you have energy to. Pile the excavated soil in a circle around the stump.
2. Place a metal 55gal barrel with both ends removed over the stump and open up a few air slots in the soil ring for air flow. Note: obviously I only use a barrel on stumps small enough to fit inside.
3. Pour in about half of a five pound bag of charcoal and light it up.

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Old 02/01/12, 07:17 AM
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Location: central Missouri
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I was interested in this thread also---i have a big stump i have been burning on for about 7 years & it is still here!!!--- UGH----I keep piling brush on it every year & then burning it & a LITTLE of it burns but that is all....might try to salt method~~


Just being there for someone can sometimes bring hope when all seems hopeless~~

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Old 02/01/12, 09:00 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Oregon
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I use the barrel and a propane torch. Cut several holes in barrel for air and the torch, fill barel with burnables and light the torch, rotate holes every 10 minutes. keep adding burnables....James

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Old 02/01/12, 01:46 PM
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Location: Oklahoma
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I've burned, or should I say "attempted to burn" stumps over and over all my life. If and only if the stump is dead and dried out I've had success with it. I've decided for me the simplest method is to poison the stump with ToradonRTU after cutting the tree, waiting a year or two, and then putting a large bag of charcoal on top of it with the 55 gallon drum on top to act as a chimney. It will actually burn down below ground level.



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Old 02/01/12, 02:25 PM
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Just make sure the stump doesn't have a lateral root that touches a building with a wood foundation or has wood walls that are close to the ground.

This is the government the Founding Fathers warned us about.....
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Old 02/01/12, 04:22 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Tenn/Ga
Posts: 126

We burned out some stumps that were cut flush to the ground by covering with charcoal and allowing to burn. It burned out the lateral roots as well. Just had to check periodically and stir. If the stump expecially stubborn, just keep adding charcoal. I was amazed at how well this worked.

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Old 02/01/12, 04:51 PM
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We have elm and cedar stumps in our yard and DH has tried several times over several years to burn them out. The elm was even hollow in the middle, and has had several fires started inside the hole, but it always goes out before the whole thing burns. He even set off some high powered firework inside it, trying to blow it up, but it didn't work. The cedar stump is cut very low to the ground, he can mow over it. He drilled holes and poured diesel fuel in them, then lit that cedar stump, it smoldered a long time but it's still there.

It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with the simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
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Old 02/01/12, 04:57 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: No. Cent. AR
Posts: 1,713

Guess all my stumps must be pretty dry cause I just pile the hot coals and ashes from the wood stove on a stump each morning and by the next day the stump is all gone, even the lateral roots. No flames, no need to stand by with a hose. Does leave a depression in the ground, but no biggie, just fill with leaves and stuff and it composts down over time.

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Old 02/01/12, 07:19 PM
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We burned a couple (old and dry) stumps by building a little fire on top and letting them burn. The roots burned underground for several days. We burned in the summer when the weather had been real dry for a few weeks.

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Old 02/01/12, 08:40 PM
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Location: Missouri
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I have a couple of oak stumps that I thought about grubbing out, but I have decided to get some use out of them. One of them I'm going to saturate in salt and molasses to use as a deer attractor and the other I'm drilling with holes to inoculate with mushroom spores. Either one of them could produce some food for me.

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Old 02/01/12, 08:47 PM
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Don't try it if it is close to the house or other buildings. If the root system might run under something you don't want burned, you shouldn't try it.

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Old 02/01/12, 08:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 115

get a dog cage 10'X10', You have to weigh/hold it down real well. I just parked the tractor bucket on a 4x4 laying across the top to hold the whole thing down. Then I put a hungry pig in there. just throw them some corn down around the stump, for a few days, the stump will be uprooted, and the land fertilized. On to the next stump... When done, you have a fat pig, and a stump free yard.

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Old 02/01/12, 09:06 PM
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I quit burning stumps out 20 years ago after one I burned out had a lateral root that went under the block pilings of a storage building and took almost a month to burn out.

When it rained heavily a couple months after the root fire died out, the ash filled tunnel under the building where the 1 to 2 foot diameter lateral root had been collapsed and sinking the storage barn enough to separate the side and back walls and roof and shatter the ventilation vent and window insert before the area dried out enough to salvage the building.

Since that fiasco when I have a stump to dispose of , I drill into it and dose it with tree and brush killer to ensure the root system dies but remains as ground fill and then pour wood ashes from my barbecue pit over the stump to provide some contained lye leeching and pack over it all with grass clippings piled a couple feet deep over and around the stump to promote anerobic heat decomposition for a season before the beetles and yard mites finish off arobically composting the stump the second season.

After a couple years of breakdown , any surface remains of the stump can usually be broke up with a hoe into mulch pieces.

I have used it to break down four red oak stumps over the last decade.


"I didn't have time to slay the dragon. Its on my "To Do" list !"

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Old 02/01/12, 09:08 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Western WI
Posts: 226
Stump grinder

In our area we had a guy who drove around looking for stumps to grind off.
I had him do one several years ago...stump that .measured 52 in. across at the widest point. The engine on his grinder was not running right. So I cleaned out the sediment bowl on the engine, put in a new spark plug, and adjusted the governor & the carburetor settings. It ran like a watch !
He quoted me a price of $30 to start....very reasonable...Even so, he wanted to pay me $20.00 !!!
We laughed & had a beer. I heard a few years later he had a heart attack.......the good do die young ...sigh !

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Old 02/01/12, 09:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: North-central Virginia, Zone 7a
Posts: 672

I'm guessing that unless it's really dry already, you'll have a hard time doing this in Virginia--things, including the ground, are just too wet here. My unscientific survey of the responses here is finding that most (most, not all) of the folks who have said it works for them are out west, and you all have a much drier climate than we do on the east coast.

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Old 02/01/12, 09:39 PM
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Location: Ky
Posts: 407

At flea market once and run up a stump burner. It was basically a gavinized upside down funnel. About six feet high and about five feet at the base. Some company name with the word stump burner embosed in it.

So a barrel may work fine.

Good luck,


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Old 02/02/12, 07:24 AM
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I've had mixed success with stump burning. I drill holes in the stump, and let it dry and rot. Then, I set my burn barrel over it, no top or bottom, and fill it with leaves, pine needles, branches, etc. Then I let it burn for days. As the stuff burns down , I use a shovel to dig down around the stump, and hack at the stump itself. Refill, and keep going. After 4-5 days, it has normally burned down to below ground level.

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Old 02/02/12, 05:48 PM
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Location: NW Oregon
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Just a little story about using gasoline or kerosene. I worked for the Ag depardment for 15 years and we would get reports from the local fire department. Person used gasoline/kerosene to burn a stub, House/barn burned to the ground. Why? Because you may think that the fire is out when the stub is gone, but it's not. The fire can travel down the roots of a tree and set other trees on fire or building.

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Old 02/02/12, 09:23 PM
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Location: Virginia
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Thanks for all the info.I may just have to suck it up and pay someone to do it because renting a grinder is just a little less then having a contractor do it.These are larger stumps like small table tops so the 55 gal drum wouldn't work.Well maybe I will put a little more back work into them and burn some calories and if no luck by spring I will pay to have them grinded. About $220.00 for 2 stumps.One of the stumps we are burning a bowl sized hole in the middle of it to use as a natural bird bath.


His name was Jeremiah Johnson,They say he wanted
to be a mountain man.

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Old 02/03/12, 02:15 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 8,558

Of course, you could always drill holes in the stump, as large as your drill can handle, and as deep as possible. Rainwater will fill these holes and eventually rot the main stump completely.

I've seen stumps take forever to rot away using this method, and a few that seemed to rot very quickly.

FWIW, and not that it matters, $220 to have 2 stumps removed might be a very reasonable amount for the work involved...but spending $220 is still a lot of money, at least in my world, to spend on a non-necessity. Just my opinion though.

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Old 02/03/12, 03:35 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: South Central Wisconsin
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I've seen big stumps enclosed in a galvanized sheet metal "collar" about 6 or 8 inches higher than the stump. It is then filled soil and planted with annual flowers. The combination of the soil bacteria and the plants eventually consume it. As with all wood, may last centuries if left exposed to the air but is quickly destroyed when in contact with soil bacteria.


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Old 02/05/12, 07:58 AM
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Location: Gratiot Co, Michigan
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I would prefer the expense of renting a grinder or a backhoe than the results of pouring kerosene into MY ground.

But then, that's just me



Originally Posted by Thomas Gallowglass
Amoung the things I've learned in life are these two tidbits...
1) don't put trust into how politicians explain things
2) you are likely to bleed if you base your actions upon 'hope'...
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