How Long Does It Take To Burn A Tree Stump?

logo by Editorial Staff | Posted on August 30th, 2022

After removing the tree, tree stumps left behind can be tricky to get rid of. If you don’t want to grind a stump, other removal methods exist.

One way to get rid of a stump is by burning it up while giving it time to prepare beforehand and it does not cost a lot to remove the tree stump. This method may take some time, but it offers an easy solution for getting rid of that bothersome dead wood – no need for professional help!

flames burning on the center of a dry stump in the afternoon in a meadow

What you’ll need to burn a stump

  • To drill holes, use a one-inch spade bit or another wood-boring bit.
  • Bit extender of eight to ten inches
  • In a funnel, add potassium nitrate or saltpeter
  • Scoop made of plastic or a garden spade
  • A bucket of boiling water, a spout-equipped cup, or a funnel
  • Wood pieces that have been leftover from a previous project
  • Matches or a fire starter
  • Shovel

Safety Tips

Many factors come into play when considering whether or not to light a fire to remove a tree stump. Firstly, you must consider the permit restrictions on open fires imposed by local fire departments during drought.

Secondly, you also need to take care of proper storage and handling of potassium nitrate, as it is an incredibly explosive substance when used incorrectly. Lastly, please ensure access to a water source nearby through stored barrels or access to the hose attached to the tap!

Check the forecast and calendar before lighting a fire to eliminate unwanted trees or roots. Also, you’ll need to ensure that there are no overly windy or blustery days nearby when trying to burn them out because otherwise, they’ll flare up before long.

Make the stump ready for burning.

The tree stump should be dry or dead timber for the best results. It is advised that a minimum of 12-18 months be allowed to dry before attempting to burn. Using a chainsaw, cut the stump as near the ground as possible.

It would help if you cleared the area surrounding the stump of combustible materials, such as dead leaves, debris, or anything else that may catch fire. Ensure at least 3 feet of space around the stump’s base. Make a containment line by placing pebbles or bricks in a circle around the stump.

Making a Flammable Stump

Dig down the stump with a shovel to expose as much of it as possible. Drill holes all over the top of the stump, around the base, and into the roots with a drill with a 1-inch spade bit eight to twelve inches long, pressing the drill bit as deep as possible.

Using a stump remover, fill each hole. Fill each hole in the stump with potassium nitrate using the funnel from the potassium nitrate bottle. To dissolve the saltpeter, pour hot water into the holes.

The saltpeter softens the wood, and the hot water helps it spread throughout the stump. Allow the liquid to permeate through the perforations in the stump for several weeks now. After the saltpeter has been dissolved into the wood, pour kerosene over the stump and into the holes and let it for a few weeks. When the kerosene has soaked into the wood, it’s time to light the tree stump.

Igniting the stump and sustaining the fire

The fire scrap wood or kindling can be placed on the stump, or scraps can be arranged in a cone form around the stump. When the burn begins, ensure air pockets allow air to flow and fan the flames.

Light the scrap wood and allow it to ignite the stump, then stand aside and watch it burn. If required, continue to add wood to the burning stump. Allow several hours for the stump to burn completely to ash. Please be aware that there will be smoke and bright embers.

Give it some time

The wood from a tree stump is usually much denser than the wood from the branches. The burn can take anything from a few hours to all day, depending on the size and age of the stump, the quantity of potassium nitrate saturation, and how often you stoke the fire.

When finished, properly extinguish the embers.

Your duty isn’t over just when the stump turns bright embers. The embers may continue to burn for several days or perhaps a week. Keep an eye on things and stir the flames now and then. Fill the hole with your favorite soil once the fire has been out. It would be time to seed if the stump were in a grassy area.

Wood and charcoal burn

There is no single method for burning a tree stump. You may perhaps light the stump on fire using charcoal and firewood. Tree trimming will be required here, so the stump does not protrude above the ground.

Cut the stump as near to the ground as you can. Next, surround the stump with firewood and charcoal and allow the mixture to burn hot enough to catch fire. Another approach is to burn the tree stump with a steel drum and charcoal.

Again, tree trimming will be required to put the drum over the stump. The drum intensifies the heat and helps the charcoal burn. Finally, cut several cross hashes in the stump with a chainsaw and fill the holes with kerosene.

The use of a charcoal chimney is advantageous in this situation. Newspapers are stuffed into one end of the charcoal chimney, while charcoal is stuffed into the other. Position the charcoal chimney on the stump and ignite the newspaper at the bottom of the chimney.

With the charcoal chimney, you may use a sheet metal duct. Wear gloves and have some long-handled tongs available to move the charcoal around if needed. Once the fire burns, lay the metal drum over the charcoal chimney to keep the heat in.

The advantages of burning a tree stump

Fire is a powerful tool for destroying wood. It can turn a stump to ashes, leaving you with only minimal clean-up work. While preparing the stump for burning may take some time, it does not need much physical work. Other removal methods, such as digging the stump, require much more effort.

Burning a stump is also a faster approach to removing it than other methods. Chemical stump removers, for example, require time to degrade the wood until it begins to break down. It burns relatively fast in the presence of fire.

The disadvantages of burning a tree stump

It is not always easy to burn out a tree stump. To begin, you’ll need to wait for the stump to lose its natural moisture once the tree is cut down. You should also burn the wood when it is dry and not wet from weather conditions like rain.

You also have no guarantee that a single burn will eliminate the entire stump. A fire can take days to break down certain stumps; you may require repeated attempts to remove the entire thing.

There are also environmental and safety concerns with burning. The smoke is unpleasant to breathe and may hurt your neighbors. You must also ensure that the fire is limited to the stump. For example, burn-out is risky if the stump is next to a fence. The fence may be destroyed by smoke or catch flame from sparks.

You may also notice damage to your lawn or ground near the stump. If the grass in the area burns, it’s gone forever. You may need to turf or reseed parts of your lawn, or you may have to live with an unattractive burnt area.

How much time will it take to burn the stump?

Because the entire process might take 12 hours to several days, you’ll need to be close by. Keep an eye on it since the fire might spread to surrounding structures or woods.

Is it possible to kill a tree stump by burning it?

Yes, burning a tree stump will result in the stump’s death. However, it will also destroy the tree’s potential to regrow in the future, making it a great choice for tree species that send up shoots from stumps even after the tree has been destroyed.


It may appear to be time-consuming, but it does not need much physical exertion. It’s a great alternative to hiring a professional stump removal service.

You must thoroughly prepare the stump, then leave it for a bit before returning to ignite it. While it is reasonably safe to burn a stump, you must exercise caution, check that it’s safe and legal, and if you need a permit, get it before you start.

Also, ensure it’s not windy, and keep water on hand if the fire gets out of hand.


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!