Agriculture fire-guns of yore

Why the hell does no one advertise great stuff like this anymore?



    1. except the guy melting ice in the red dragon site is really battleling trying to teach water not to freeze…

      1. As long as the area he’s working has sufficiently good drainage, he’s fine. The water can refreeze all it wants somewhere else, after the torch has dried the pavement.

  1. Guess what: these devices are still available today, either from a regular hardware store (I got mine from Orchard Supply and Hardware, aka OSH), or online at Great for stopping weeds early in the still rainy early spring, when sprouts are still very small. There are also small versions for suburban home use and when anyone is serious about pesticide-free gardening and/or farming, these things can be the tool to do the job. Luisa Duchaineau, Livermore, CA

  2. Cory, you’re out of touch with your country roots, they are a pretty common item anywhere beyond the street lights and sold all over the place. :)

  3. Yeah, these are actually pretty common. I have one I use to burn weeds out of the sidewalk and driveway cracks, but mine uses propane. I got mine at Harbor Freight but there are also available at about any “farm supply” store.

    Great fun, sounds/looks like a flamethrower (but without that messy flamin’ jelly) plus I’m ready for The Thing. :D

  4. Another scary beast is the ‘Hot Pressure Washer’ used to remove graffiti or do heavy-duty cleaning. It’s water, but at 4000 psi and Super Hot!

  5. yea, these things are common. we use them to burn the needles off cactus so that cows can eat the cactus.

  6. Okay, we get it. There are plenty of these things available.

    What we want to know is: why don’t we see any adverts for them? Are flame-throwers just that self-evidently cool and useful that they sell themselves?

    1. Are flame-throwers just that self-evidently cool and useful that they sell themselves?

      Non-cool flamethrower is an oxymoron.

    2. Things like this are still advertised, for example, in any good-sized gardening magazine. I think what you’re wondering is why aren’t they advertised as widely as they used to be. And the reason for that is way, way fewer people lead any kind of agricultural life these days.

      In fact, one whole department of BB exists mostly because farmers are so scarce. I refer to the ‘making’ meme. For farmers with any experience, making is the norm, not some hip novelty.

  7. They still make them, and you can buy them anywhere. There are versions to run of little camping propane tanks or the larger BBQ tanks.

    I see advertisements for them all the time in Mother Earth News, gardening catalogs, Northern Tool catalog, etc. They’re seeing a resurgence because people are growing more suspicious of herbicides. RoundUp was the chemical of choice for years, but some believe it’s not the 100% safe product Monsanto said it was. So, yes, expect to see more weed burning tools out there.

    Sorry to disappoint, but they’re not really flame THROWERS. It’s basically just a good propane flame at the end of that long metal rod – no 20′ burst of flame, sorry.

  8. When I see things like this, I’m always tempted to write them…

    Sine Equipment
    Quakertown, PA

    Who knows, maybe they’re still selling them.

  9. I saw Mike Rowe use one on Dirty Jobs. Evidently it’s commonly used to singe the hairs off of a cow’s udder to keep them more hygienic.

    Didn’t seem to bother the cows but Mike gave an excellent reaction when the farmer whipped it out and flamed the cows.

    Mmmmm. Warm milk.

  10. We used a similar device to burn down Canadian thistles.

    (First you get the thistles, then you get the health care!)

  11. The one in the old ad looks more deadly than the pansy-ass 21st century models. I’d want a big flame to get rid of the weeds or if Japanese tanks come down the street.

    1. I’d want a big flame to get rid of the weeds or if Japanese tanks come down the street.

      Oh, then you want the Jet Torch:


      That’s the one that’s got some real reach. Ranchers use ’em to burn the spines off of stands of beavertail cactus, so their cattle can eat the cactus. (Don’t try this with teddy-bear cholla, though – the whole cactus goes up like a torch.)

      They have everything from pinpoint burners for the home gardener that use little 1-lb. propane cartridge tanks, up to multiple-head rigs that you tow behind tractors to clear weeds between row crops.

      And, no, the modern ones aren’t ‘pansy-ass’ compared to the older ones. I linked to the ‘Heavy-Duty Vapor Torch’ page in particular because those models are the same size and functionality as the one in the old ad.

      They’re just a cleaner flame, because they burn propane. I’ve used both sorts, and the newer propane models are just as much fun – and they burn even hotter. :-)

  12. I see them advertised now and then on the various T&T (Technology and Testosterone) channels on cable: Spike, History, ESPN, any of the stations that carry shows with “Garage”, “Monster”, “Extreme” and similar words in the title.

  13. I interned on a tiny organic farm in the Blue Ridge Mtns one summer after high school, and burning weeds was definitely my favorite job! It killed all the weeds on the surface of the soil, so there were very few left to pull during the rest of the year.

    BTW, for you all ceramic artists out there: 1 weed burner + 1 galvazined steel trash bin + some refractory blanket (thanks, NASA!) = 1 super cheap high-temp gas kiln!

  14. My father used to have one of these things, which he used to clear brush and weeds on his farm. I always thought it was kinda cool when I was a kid (though he never let me play with it, of course). I don’t know what ever happened to it. I’m assuming that either he must have sold it, or else it was destroyed when his toolshed burnt down. I kinda wish I still had it; though, to be honest, I don’t really have any practical use for it.

  15. I’ve got one of these. It was $25 and it’s absolutely heinous. 200,000 BTU and it makes a lot of noise. Most fun you can spend $25 on.

  16. We had one kinda like this as a kid on the farm I grew up on, but it ran on propane. We would hook a huge tank up to the back of the tractor and I would drive the tractor while my dad torched the weeds. It was the most enjoyable chore on the farm by far.

  17. I keep one under my bed, just in case I’m ever attacked by giant centipedes.

    It also works against bedbugs, although Maw calls that overkill.

  18. Propane, kerosene/paraffin, meh. Panty-waist stuff. Safe as houses.

    For real excitement, try a shiny brass gasoline torch.

    When I was a kid, every plumber had one of these. They’d leave ’em running under their lead-pots while they got out the oakum and calking irons to make up a bell-and-spigot joint.

    That’d be around 1965-75 or so… now get off my damn lawn, you whippersnappers!

  19. Oh, it’s pretty good. But after you get tired of it and want something more exciting, you might want to consider the Rodenator. I can’t speak to other jurisdictions, but in Canada it figures in at least a couple of accidental prairie fires a year…

  20. I remember being tasked with clearing the 1/2 acre field next to our house in our development with one of these when I was about 12 years old back in the mid-1990s. Looking back at that, my father must have had incredible trust in me and my powers of self restraint. Maybe you should re-tag this post as “free range kids”?

  21. Ha! I found this article quite amusing based on my own dabble in design.

    In college I took agricultural design. There were not many students present, but it gave me more shop time and I dove right into it.

    We visited various local organic farms around the Vermont area and discussed with them what they really desired to enhance their operation. The paramount enemy was of course, was weeds.

    Well, there are a couple ways to kill weeds.
    Chemicals. Thats a no go.
    Fire. Fun!… but doesn’t penetrate soil.
    …and steam. That’s right, steam. Concentrations of steam into the roots of weeds kill them quite easily.

    So, after roaming around the junk yard I came back with a water heater and an aluminum fire extinguisher. The idea was sound, put the coil in the extinguisher and make it a “Backpack steam weeder”. You plug it in, let the pressure and temperature build, then off you go with a hand held trigger and nozzle that can easily be stuck in the soil where weeds reside. Bam! Dead weeds!

    The problem came upon testing time. No one would wear the thing. There was a slight chance that the pressure safety valve would fail, thus exploding on the wearer’s back. So, it sat on the shelf never tested, but the idea still resonates as a ingenious in my mind. My initial drawings looked almost identical to the one above as well. Except steam blasting from a stick figure with a hose in his hand.

    I loved that class!

  22. I just love the illustration of the farmer. Look how satisfied he is just burnin’ stuff! I’ve never been suckered in by happy people eating burgers, but his comfortable yet powerful pose just makes me want to be that guy.

    Also: c’mon people – do you really think Cory’s Google skills are that much worse than yours? I think this post is really saying “Look at these cool things you can buy. Discuss.”

    1. Teapot, this is not kettle (sorry, had to say it).

      I am thinking Cory is saying “Look at these cool things you can buy. . .just look at them!”

  23. This is why Farmer Brown and Bessie are going to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Them undead city slickers don’t stand a chance!

  24. I, too, was thinking why noone was sending Cory a Harbor Freight catalog, I mean, who knows when you’ll need bulk casters, unlimited plastic shelving or access to practically the entire range of hardware produced in the Southeastern Chinese Provinces? I mean, HF is like maker mail order budget Q drop… anyway.
    Now if someone can combime the pressure washer with the propane torch… :)

  25. Okay, I’ll gamble a stamp.

    I’m really keen to see this “large list of USES for this Modern Labor Saving Tool.”

    I mean, if they have to italicize “FARM” in “over 100 FARM uses,” that list must be impressive indeed.

    1. Weed abatement.
    2. Frozen-pipe melting.
    3. Child-labor incentivizing.
    4. Zombie abatement.
    5. Commie abatement.
    6. Al-qaeda abatement.
    7. Paint removal.
    8. Washtub warming.
    9. Outhouse pest control.
    10. Mob accessory (with pitchfork attachment, sold separately)
    11. Cee-gar lighting.
    12. Witch abatement.
    13. Aircraft signaling.
    14. Crop circling.
    15. Firebreaking.
    16. Purification of disused church buildings given over to housing and worship of assorted eldritch Old Ones.
    17. Thing abatement.
    18. Athlete’s Foot relief.

    …damn, that’s all I got. I suffer from Monday’s Paucity of Imagination, it seems. Anyone else got a few?

  26. I think that, if you had a second tank of NO2, you’d get both more flame and more range. At that point, though, I think the UN inspectors for WMD stop by.

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