Comparing Gas and Electric Weed Burners

Written by Daniel Woodley. Fact checked by Paul Farley. Published on the 23rd of September 2022.

Our editors publish helpful guides and insights learnt from years of experience. They also test, review and suggest garden products. If you buy something via links, we may earn a commission but we never accept products or incentives from manufacturers. Learn about our process.

Weed burners are popular with gardeners who want to get rid of weeds naturally without using harsh chemicals and are ideal for homes with pets, children and occupants with allergies.

Those physically unable to bend over and yank out weeds will also appreciate how easy a burner is to use.

Also, if you have many hard surfaces with plenty of gaps, such as a block driveway, a weed burner can save you many hours compared to pulling out each weed individually.

But which is best? An electric weed burner or a gas burner? 

What’s the difference?

How Weed Burners Work (+ Dispelling a Myth)

Despite the name, weed burners are not designed to burn weeds into a crisp or into oblivion.

To do so would take ages and there would be a huge risk of fire or damage to the garden.

Weed burners should only be used for 5-10 seconds on each weed until the foliage wilts.

This will be enough to kill it, even though the green foliage will remain.

The gardener should then leave the weed to decay naturally over the next few days.

Small weeds with thin foliage usually decay away after only 2-5 days, as you can see in the images below:

Draper weed burner test results 2
Weed burner test results

The images in “day 1” were taken immediately after being hit with 5-10 seconds of 600c heat from an electric weed burner I recently tested.

As you can see, I didn’t burn them into oblivion.

The images in “day 3” were taken 3 days later, and you can clearly see they have decayed away.

Here’s a quote from the documentation that comes with a gas burner currently being sold online:

This garden torch blasts the plants with intensive heat that instantly destroys the weeds’ internal cell structures causing them to wither and die within one day or two

Gas Vs Electric Weed Burners

Both gas and electric weed burners work on the same principle, the heat wilts the foliage, and the weed dies and rots away over the next few days.

The big difference is that gas weed burners are hotter, and you’ll spend less time on each weed.

Electric burners produce heat at 600°c while gas burners produce 1300°c of heat.

Both get the job done, but gas burners are quicker.

Electric burners require an extension cable, while gas burners can be used anywhere.

While electric burners take up to 45 seconds to reach their full heat, gas burners are ready to use the moment you light the gas.

Electric burners don’t produce a naked flame and are considered safer, especially when used in dry gardens and near combustible material.

Do Weed Burners Kill The Roots? Will The Weeds Come Back?

I’ve tested weed burners on dozens of weeds, and the smaller weeds are usually killed off entirely and never come back.

Some weeds, such as dandelions, have deep roots down to 6-8 inches, and neither gas nor electric burners will kill off the root.

Weed burners aren’t as effective as harsh chemicals or tools that yank out the roots, and based on my experience, you’ll need to use the burner every 3 weeks during the growing season to keep the weeds under control.

By keeping the weeds suppressed, they won’t produce seeds, and their spread will be limited.

I try to think of a weed burner as a weed suppressor rather than an eradication tool.

It’s worth noting that while the gas burner runs hotter, it still won’t be enough to kill roots 6 inches in the ground.

Burning weeds

Who Should and Shouldn’t Buy a Weed Burner

Still not sure if a weed burner is for you?

Yes

  • Have allergies to chemicals
  • Own pets or children who will use the garden
  • Are into organic gardening
  • Are unable to physically remove weeds
  • Have lots of hard surfaces with gaps where weeds poke through
  • Are prepared to use the tool periodically to keep the weeds suppressed

No

  • Want to kill off all the weeds and roots in one treatment
  • Wish to use it on grass
  • Aren’t prepared to use the tool periodically throughout the growing season
  • Those that aren’t prepared for the fire risk (esp with the gas burner which has a naked flame)
2000W Electric Weed Burner - Draper 68696 - 1.7m Cable Hot Air Garden Commercial Allotment Weed Control, Silver
2000W Electric Weed Burner - Draper 68696 - 1.7m Cable Hot Air Garden Commercial Allotment Weed Control, Silver
2000W Electric Weed Burner - Draper 68696 - 1.7m Cable Hot Air Garden Commercial Allotment Weed Control, Silver
2000W Electric Weed Burner - Draper 68696 - 1.7m Cable Hot Air Garden Commercial Allotment Weed Control, Silver

Running Costs

At the time of publishing this article, the UK government has just introduced an energy price cap and based on the current cost per unit of electricity, I believe an electric weed burner will cost £0.56p per hour to run.

Most gas weed burners come with 4 gas canisters and additional gas canisters cost £2.50 each. One canister lasts around an hour so the cost per hour is therefore around £2.50.

(In short, electric weed burners are much cheaper to run than gas burners).

Safety

Gas weed burners produce twice as much heat as electric burners and also have a naked flame.

In short – electric weed burners are much safer to use and you don’t need to worry about storing gas canisters.

Alternatives

There are many alternatives to weed burners and some will be more effective but do require using harsh chemicals.

Moss, algae, lichen, stains, black marks on hard surfaces – Use Patio Magic or any product that contains Benzalkonium Chloride.

Moss in grass – Use bacteria that eat the moss or treat it with iron sulphate (read our guide to the best moss killers for lawns).

Weeds in grass – Use a weed puller tool, try an upright weed puller or use Weedol (which does work as per my tests).

Weeds in cracks in patios and block paving – Use a scraper tool or wire brush tool.

Natural alternatives – Vinegar, salt and boiling water work well but salt is toxic to the soil, vinegar is okay but boiling water is expensive and unsafe. Read more: Hannah discussed natural weed killers on our blog.

Which is Best – Electric or Gas Weed Burners?

I prefer electric weed burners as I have a small garden, and they are cheaper to run. Also, I do not need to burn the weeds to a crisp, and I’m happy to wait a few days for the weeds to decay away naturally.

I would only consider a gas burner if I had a large garden and linking extension leads was impractical.

Gas weed burners are great for frying the weeds, but that isn’t necessary.

I own the Draper electric weed burner, which is the best of the bunch.

Author: Daniel Woodley

Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.

He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.

Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.

More About Daniel Woodley.

Daniel Woodley

Find out more about the team behind DIY Gardening

About Us

Hannah Miller
Danny Woodley