Should you consider flame weeding? - Weedtechnics

Should you consider flame weeding?

Jeremy Winer

Flame weed control has been around for a long time and is used extensively in organic food production, primarily on cultivated soils to manage the germinated weed seed before planting or emergence of seeded crops. 

Here are a few points to consider while managing weeds in planted mulched gardens.

What should I consider about Flame weed management?

Flame weeders are best used when the ground is wet or at least moist from dew.  It is quicker to heat the water on the plant surface than the dry leaves as the water transfers the heat more efficiently.  Wet mulches are less likely to combust. In addition, wearing a back pack sprayer with water can assist in wetting plants prior to flame and also extinguishing grasses and mulch that combust as a result of the off target flame.

Here is a quick comparison of the two methods – Dry Thermal Flame Weed Control and Wet Thermal SatusteamTM Weed Control

Dry Thermal Flame Weed Control


  • Heat Source: Utilizes propane or natural gas to generate a flame.
  • Action: The flame is directed at the weeds, causing thermal shock.
  • Impact: The heat denatures proteins and disrupts cell structures, effectively burning the above ground portion of the weed plant.

Advantages of Flame Weed Control:

  • Immediate results: Weeds are visibly affected shortly after treatment.
  • No chemicals: Environmentally friendly as it does not involve herbicides.
  • Weather Flexibility: As long as it’s not excessively windy or during fire bans.
  • Organic Compatibility: Suitable for organic farming and eco-friendly landscaping.

Disadvantages of Flame Weed Control:

  • Fire Risk: Requires careful management to prevent accidental fires.
  • Mulch Damage: High heat can melt synthetic mulches and scorch organic mulches, negating their beneficial properties.
  • Off-Target Damage: Precise application can be challenging, leading to unintended scorching or damage to desirable vegetation.
  • Limited Effectiveness on perennial weeds: May not kill deep-rooted perennials effectively, often requiring multiple treatments.
  • Regrowth generally visible within 7-14 days
  • Safety concerns: Proper training and safety measures are essential to avoid burns and accidents.

Wet Thermal Satusteam Weed Control


  • Heat Source: Uses depressurized superheated water, delivered as a mixture of SatusteamTM at low pressure and 212F 
  • Action: The wet heat and energy penetrates the plant tissues, causing instant cell rupture and death of all soft leaved and stemmed vegetation. Thermal Shock.
  • Impact: The volume of SatusteamTM at 1 1/4 gal minute allows for penetration into the growing point of the plant that is just below ground surface.
  • Efficiency: Provides 21-35 days of weed control.


Advantages of SatusteamTM Weed Control:

  • Effective on various weed types: Can penetrate and kill both annuals and perennials.
  • Safer to use: Reduced fire risk compared to flame weeding.
  • Less wind-sensitive: Can be used in windy conditions without risk of spreading fire.
  • Can be used in proximity to structures and delicate plants without risk of fire damage.
  • Treated vegetation is desiccated and available for nutrient return to soil. This supports the soil health and increases microbial activity.

Read more detailed information on the benefits of SatusteamTM technology here.

Disadvantages of SatusteamTM Weed Control:

  • Water usage: Requires water, which may be a limitation in arid regions.
  • Equipment complexity: SatusteamTM machines and applicators can be slightly more complex and expensive to maintain.
  • Efficiency: May take longer to treat large areas compared to flame weeding.


  • Dry Thermal Flame Weed Control  can be used in a variety of conditions but comes with fire risks and will require multiple treatments for deep-rooted weeds.
  • Wet Thermal Satusteam Weed Control is safer regarding fire hazards and effective on a broader range of weeds, and will require fewer applications per annum, but requires more resources and may be less practical in difficult to access areas. Check out how SatusteamTM can be used to kill roots here.
About the Author : Jeremy Winer

Jeremy Winer has 30 years of practical experience in implementing integrated holistic approach to organic weed management across urban landscapes, recreational parklands and wetlands. He currently runs Weedtechnics specialising in providing chemical reduction and non-toxic weed control programs to municipalities across Australia. He has developed, patented, manufactured, and commercialised the Steamwand method of creating saturated steam for vegetation control.