How to burn out tree stumps with copper sulfate

Written by jessica jewell
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How to burn out tree stumps with copper sulfate
Copper sulphate will aid rotting in a tree stump. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Copper sulphate has been used for centuries as seed treatment and also to treat fire blight in dormant trees. While not a common practice, copper sulphate can be used as a chemical agent to burn out a tree stump if other methods of tree stump removal have not worked, such as digging, rotting or grinding out a stump. You can use copper sulphate to burn out a tree stump, which you can then remove from your landscape.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Protective eyewear
  • Protective mask
  • Protective gloves
  • Saw
  • Chain saw
  • Grinder
  • Drill
  • Copper sulphate
  • Hammer or stick
  • Plastic garbage can lid
  • Bricks

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  1. 1

    Dig out as much of the tree stump as you can before applying any chemical treatments to it. If you can, grind away the top of the stump with a stump grinder, or use a saw or chain saw to cut down the stump as close to the ground as possible.

  2. 2

    Drill several 1-inch holes into the stump and space the holes approximately one inch from each other. Try to drill the holes at a 45-degree angle, and drill down 12 inches deep.

  3. 3

    Insert copper sulphate into the holes and pack it tightly. Do not touch the copper sulphate with your bare hands. Use the end of a hammer or long stick to pack the copper sulphate into the stump holes.

  4. 4

    Cover the holes with a plastic garbage can lid and then weigh the lid down with bricks or concrete blocks. Do not use a metal lid, as the copper sulphate will corrode the lid.

  5. 5

    Wait several weeks. The copper sulphate will not dissolve the tree stump. It will merely speed up the rotting. You may need to add additional copper sulphate after a few weeks and repeat the covering process.

Tips and warnings

  • Copper sulphate is a very caustic chemical. It can cause sickness and injury if inhaled or if it comes in contact with your skin. Do not use copper sulphate without wearing a protective face mask, eyewear and gloves. Also, do not use copper sulphate if your tree stump is near a water source or if you have children or domestic animals that may accidentally come into contact with the tree stump.
  • In addition to killing your tree stump, the copper sulphate that comes into contact with the surrounding landscape will also kill grass, plants and other trees.

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