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Using Boiling Water to Kill Weeds: All You Need To Know

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Using Boiling Water to Kill Weeds: All You Need To Know

People have been using boiling water to kill weeds since the first patent was made official way back in the 1880s. It’s not really a new thing.

Unfortunately, it’s also not a very practical method for mass growing, so it can’t really be used in commercial farming.

However, the idea of using boiling water as a weed killer on small farms is still there and still viable. It’s called thermal weed control and its whole point is to distort plant cells by shifting heat energy onto them.

It works because water is simply one of the most effective energy transfer methods in existence. It’s far more efficient than steam and air, capable of transferring up to twenty-seven times the energy of the latter.

And since water naturally flows down into the ground of its own accord, it’s the easiest method for reaching the roots. That, of course, is compared to steam or air which usually rises first, thus negating some of the heat energy.

Does boiling water kill weeds? Yes, it does. Best of all, it’s an excellent alternative to Roundup since pure hot water carries no chemicals and you can get it for free!

Hot Water for Weed Control

Plants are delicate, which is one reason boiling water works so well. For everyday gardens, sidewalks, and between pavers, it’s the perfect natural weed killer and it’s entirely non-toxic.

So long as you’re careful about where you apply it, pouring boiling water on weeds won’t harm any of your other plants in the garden or lawn grass nearby.

It has no effects whatsoever on you, so long as you dress appropriately. 


  • Long pants
  • Long sleeves
  • Closed shoes

When killing weeds with boiling water, the less exposed skin, the better. This will help prevent accidental burns.

Identifying the Weeds

Make sure of what you’re intending to get rid of before diving in, lest you inadvertently eliminate something you want to stick around.

Anything hit by accident, regardless of weed or vegetable, will start to wither extremely quickly. This method works best for sidewalks, in cracks, and the edges of your lawn and garden.

The Heating Process

Fill up a teakettle and set it on the stove to boil.

It might be convenient to have a thermometer handy since the water will need to reach approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit, as stated by the University of California Integrated Pest Management Online.

You’ll want to check to make sure the water is as close to temp as possible.

Killing the Weeds

Make sure to protect your hands with either Oven Mitts or Kevlar Gloves before turning off the stove and taking the kettle outside.

Be extra careful, but as quick as possible while making your way to the troublesome green pests. The temperature of the water will drop increasingly quickly and it’s important to be precise.

You aren’t going to want to make frequent and time-consuming trips back and forth to boil more water if you can help it. Once in place, hold the kettle’s spout so it tips directly onto the weeds in question.

If you think it’ll make it easier, you can always snip off the fronds of the critters. This way, the water has a more direct path into the root system.

Aim carefully for the roots so as not to damage anything else that might be in the path of the killer liquid. If you’re not careful, the boiling water will kill grass, clover, dandelions, and other plants you want to keep.

Avoiding Splashes

You’re holding a kettle full of potentially dangerous, scalding water designed to destroy pesky invaders in your garden. No doubt you’re a little worried about any friendly fire when pouring boiling water on weeds.

The best way to curb this is to squat or kneel and pour the water down from a low height. This will make it splash far less than if you held it up at hip height.

Will Weeds Grow Back?   

If you do happen to see a stubborn reappearance of one thought long dead, then just reapply the water treatment, same as before. The plant is going to start getting weaker with each new application.

Usually, it only takes about two or three treatments to see permanent results. However, it’ll be worth it in the end when you don’t have to pull them anymore.

Can You Use Vinegar Instead of Water? 

Yes, instead of water, you certainly can use this handy household product to get the job done. Read: How to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds: The Ultimate Guide

Simply boil the vinegar and apply or spray it on the same way to any stubborn weeds that may have gotten a real solid foot in the door.

And this is a double-whammy as it gets rid of them permanently. The heat from the liquids sears the outside while the vinegar invades the internal tissue and finishes the job below the soil.

Just make sure not to overdo it, or you could overwhelm the soil. 


Weeds are a pain in the neck. They’re the rabbits of the plant world; they multiply rapidly, driving everyone crazy from simple gardeners to professional farmers.

They steal valuable nutrients and real estate from crops and they just straight up don’t look appealing.

Chemically composed herbicides are popular to use right now. But more and more studies are cropping up stating how detrimental they are to the health of the crops and the consumers.

Since organic options are more and more in demand, utilizing the “hot water sprayer for weeds” method is gaining a reputation as one of the easiest and most cost-effective natural weed-killing options.

Sasha Brown

Sasha Brown is a blogger and lover of all things natural.

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