Why and How to Get Rid of a Tree Stump with Charcoal?

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You’ve decided to build a new concrete patio, a dance floor, or a new landscape in your backyard.

Sadly, there’s a tree stump in the middle that stopping you from starting.

Getting the stump out won’t be easy, though. It may take weeks or even months before it disappears. And in some cases, it never does.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can always get rid of a tree stump with charcoal.

We go over the why, the intricacies, and the how below. You’ll learn everything you need to remove the tree stump safely and effectively using charcoal – like a madman. Keep scrolling!

Why Remove a Stump with Charcoal?

Why Remove a Stump with Charcoal?

People use charcoal to fire up their barbecues and firepits. But lighting up a tree to remove it? Get out of here…

Well, it’s possible. And not only possible but actually better than many other options. Here’s why:

  • It’s quick: While not as fast as grinding or cutting the stump with a chainsaw, it takes only a few days. Compared to other “natural” methods, this one saves you a lot of time.
  • Incredibly cheap: No need to spend hundreds on tools or equipment. You’ll only use one. Only need the charcoal, a drill, and oil. It will cost you exponentially lower than hiring a removal expert.
  • Little to no work: The process is so easy that pretty much anyone can get it done. Like a grandma or a young man who’s never done anything like this. There’s no heavy work to do.
  • No noise contamination: Charcoal is probably the safest way to get rid of a tree stump if you do it right. While the smoke can be annoying, you’ll be making no noise or unnecessary rackets.

There are many more reasons to use charcoal for stump removal. For example, it will also

Why Not Remove a Stump with Charcoal?

Now, we can’t tell you that getting rid of the tree stump with charcoal is a faultless activity. There are actual dangers and drawbacks that you may want to consider. Here’s what we mean:

  • A lot of soot: Charcoal is inherently messy. Transforming its density into fire takes a lot of burning. It eventually becomes soot.
  • Damages to the soil: The burning will cause temporary and sometimes permanent damage to the surrounding floor. This could prevent grass, weeds, and other plants from growing any time soon.
  • Possible burning: Not only would you be putting yourself and other beings in danger with the charcoal fire, but you could also start a fire at home (that could become a forest fire or worse).
  • Tons of smoke: Even with the smallest of stumps, the smoke that’ll come outof the place will be a lot. This smoke may contaminate the environment and cause your neighbors to get mad. Doing it indoors or in an enclosed area could be problematic.

Luckily, this is not an activity that lasts for long. With the right approach and tools, you won’t have to worry about these drawbacks.

Tools You’ll Need for Getting Rid of a Tree Stump with Charcoal

The process is as simple as you may imagine, so there’s really no need to gather your entire toolbox at home. However, you will probably need a few more items than you expect. Here’s what we recommend bringing for the job:

  • Face mask: You’ll need this to prevent the smoke from getting into your lungs. More importantly, to prevent the soot from getting stuck in your face.
  • Gloves: Needless to say, the charcoal soot will also stay on your hands without gloves. Given you’re also working with fire, bringing some gloves will keep your hands safe.
  • Googles: Also, why work with smoke and charcoal soot without protecting your eyes? Wear some goggles to prevent any damage.
  • Extinguisher: There will be tons of flames coming from the stump. While not necessarily a big flame that will start a fire, it’s still worth having a fire extinguisher (or at least a garden hose) around.
  • Rocks or blocks: The best way you can keep the fire in the stump only is to build a rock or block fence. This wall will ensure the burning stays inside.
  • Drill: As you’ll removing the tree stump, you’ll want to burn it from the inside as well. The drill will help you with that.
  • Shovel: For the best results, you’ll have to expose the roots. Nothing will help you for that like a shovel.
  • Vegetable oil: This is what goes into the drilled holes to enhance the inside’s burning process. Try to get a 2-liter bottle of oil if possible (you may need that much).
  • Charcoal: The most critical part of the job. Don’t forget to buy a big charcoal bag (at least two for stumps of more than 40 inches in diameter).

Once you gather all these tools, you’ll be ready to start the job.

What to Consider Before You Burn Stump with Charcoal?

What to Consider Before You Burn Stump with Charcoal?

Before you start, let’s go into a few considerations that could make the difference between successfully getting rid of the stump or having a hard time:

Size of the Stump

For stumps that are too large, you could expect up to 4 to 5 days of work. Also, consider how dense it is and what type of wood. Humid woods, for example, will take a lot more time to burn down.

Speed of the Process

Depending on the environment and type of wood, the process may take up to 5 days. Don’t expect to burn it all down in a day, especially if you live in a less-than-ideal place.

Children & Pets

Fire is dangerous. Thus, you should try to keep children and pets away from the fire. With a bit of common sense, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Neighbors’ Consent

If the smoke coming out of the burning stump may cause disturbances to your neighbors, then alert them beforehand. They may oppose, so be ready for that. But if you start without warning, they may report you – and that would be worse.

Regulations & Legality

Just like alerting your neighbors, it’s worth taking a look at the environmental rules in your neighborhood. Many states have rules against starting fires in backyards or patios. Avoid legal issues by checking beforehand.  

Flammability & Fires

The danger of fires is always latent if you’re burning something, especially as large as a tree stump. To prevent any unnecessary problem, keep a water hose, a water bucket, and an extinguisher close at all times.

Burning Soil & Roots

The fire may travel through the tree wood into the roots. If this happens, you may cause permanent damage to the surroundings, causing the soil to get burned alongside other plants’ roots.

These are all vital considerations to have in mind before you start with the job. Once you internalize them, beginning with the tree stump removal shouldn’t be much of a problem.

How to Get Rid of a Tree Stump with Charcoal – Step by Step

How to Get Rid of a Tree Stump with Charcoal - Step by Step

It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. Removing that tree stump won’t be as hard as you think, but it’s still worth following our steps below if you want to avoid accidents, save time, and get the job done to perfection.

1. Dig Around the Stump

Check where the roots are not exposed and expose them. It may sound a bit complicated, given you may have to dig for an hour or two. But exposing the roots is critical if you want to get rid of the stump.

Stop digging once you have the roots visible, and you can pour some of the charcoal over.

2. Drill A Few Holes

After opening the trench and discovering the roots, it’s time to drill the stump.

Open a few holes on the top of the stump as well as the sides. The ones on the sides should be angled, pointing the drill down.

For a better result, open one hole for every 2 inches of space. Each hole should be no less than 8 inches deep.

You should use the thickest drill bit possible for the job. This will help you increase the burning effect later on.

3. Add Some Vegetable Oil

Pour some of the vegetable oil into the recently drilled holes. It’s essential to fill them to the top, even if some of the oil drips.

After pouring the oil, you should leave it to get absorbed. When the wood gets damped with the oil, it eventually burns faster.

For the best results, fill up the holes for two or three days straight. This will damp up the wood just enough so the stump lights up almost automatically and burns faster.

4. Pour the Charcoal

By now, two or three days have already passed. It’s now time to pour the charcoal over the stump.

We recommend placing it preferably on the thickest areas. Don’t forget to place some of it in the trenches (close to the roots).

Try to cover the whole stump. The less you leave exposed, the faster the stump will burn.

5. Light the Charcoal Up

Now it’s time to start. Grab a match or lighter, light up a piece of napkin or paper, and throw it over the charcoal.

The charcoal should start burning almost right away. If not, pour some kerosene over it (not recommended unless the charcoal doesn’t want to light up at first).

Then try to light the charcoal again. With kerosene, it should start right away. Now, it’s just time to wait and prevent the fire from spreading.

6. Monitor the Burning

Keep watching how the fire acts. You will see how the stump starts to burn and disappear slowly. Don’t veer away for at least the first 2 or 3 hours as the flames are high. This is why you may want to invite someone else to help you monitor the stump

Once the fire starts to lower down to safe levels, you can take a rest.

7. Relit if Necessary

By now, you should have a portion of the stump already gone. If the stump is already more than a quarter standing, we recommend lighting it up again for at least a day.

You may need to buy a bit more charcoal. Luckily, it won’t be that much as the stump is probably already more than half done.

Either way, try to cover it all again and start the fire. Monitor for a few hours until the fire is reduced to mere ember.

You should repeat this until the stump is removed. It shouldn’t take more than 5 days unless you’re working with a gigantic stump.

8. Clean the Mess

After you’re done getting rid of that tree stump, it’s time to clean everything. Dig pieces of burnt wood, remove the charcoal, and try hosing down the area to get rid of as much soot as possible.

In some cases, you will need to dig some of the roots out. Use the shovel.

In case the burning made a dent in the ground, you may want to add some soil or rocks in the area. This will cover the burnt sections and make them look new.


Went through the whole list of steps? If so, we hope you’re sufficiently ready for the job.

You have every single piece of detail above to make sure the job goes the perfection. In case something fails, don’t hesitate to roll back and repeat.

Either way, we’re sure this won’t be much of a problem for a gardener or DIYer. Just remember to follow our advice every step of the way to avoid issues.

So, what are you waiting for? That tree stump won’t get rid of itself…

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