How to Remove a Tree Stump With Charcoal

Removing an old, decaying tree stump from your yard can be a real pain in the butt! It can also be expensive if you choose to hire a professional to do it. What if I told you there was another way? That’s right! You can actually remove a tree stump with the same charcoal that you use to grill with.

Keep reading to find out exactly how!

how to remove tree stump with charcoal

How to Remove a Tree Stump With Charcoal in 7 Steps

Removing a tree stump with charcoal isn’t a pleasant mission. You’ll deal with a lot of charcoal, fire, and ashes. However, it’s a brilliant solution to get rid of the stump without using a grinder. Here are the steps you should follow:

Step 1: Create a Burn Bit Around the Stump

Before starting the process, make sure the stump is at least 15 feet away from your house for safety purposes. And, make sure it’s legal to burn the stump in your garden according to your state laws.

It’s also wise to choose the day of burning according to the weather forecast. Windless days are better, and try to stay away from days that are too hot.

If you take care of these safety precautions, you can proceed with the first step.

The first step you should do is create a burning bit around your stump. You should dig around it in a 12–24 inches diameter and dig 16–18 inches deep for safety. This way, you’ll expose all the roots, ensuring all parts of the stump get burnt.

Bear in mind that this step is essential for getting rid of the entire thing. If you don’t dig deep enough, the fire may not reach the whole stump, and the last thing you want is a partially burnt stump in your garden.

Step 2: Drill the Top of the Stump

Using a drill with a 1-inch bit, start drilling many holes into the stump’s top. Keep them around two inches apart from each other in a checkered pattern. Then, dig them 12 inches deep, or something approximate since it’ll be hard to get accurate measurements.

The larger the stump, the more holes you’ll need to drill.

Step 3: Drill the Sides

After you drill the top of the stump, it’s time to drill the sides. Measure four inches from the top of the stump down, keep your drill angled, and drill the holes downward. You’ll need to be careful here to get the holes exactly as they should be.

They should be angled so that they intersect with the holes you drilled on the top earlier. So, in the end, they need to form V shapes on the inside of the stump. This way, the stump has enough tubes on the inside to absorb the vegetable oil you’ll add later.

If you have a potassium nitrate stump remover, now would be a good time to use it. You can apply it to the wood to break it apart a bit, so it’s easier for the fire to burn. If you don’t have it, proceed to the next steps.

Step 4: Pour the Vegetable Oil

Now, grab your vegetable oil bottles and pour them down the holes you drilled earlier. You’ll want each hole to be filled to the brim, up to the point that the oil is pouring out. So try to be generous when adding the oil.

Remember that you need to repeat this step for two or three days for the best results. This is because the wood will absorb the oil faster than you think, and you’ll need to add more.

After you’re done, use a brush to add a thin coat of oil to the top of the stump.

Step 5: Surround the Stump With Charcoal

Remember the diameter you dug around the stump earlier? Now, grab a bag of charcoal—or more if your stump is large—and pile it inside. Afterward, grab another bag and place it on the stump top. Cut it open, leaving the paper bag between the charcoal and the wood.

If you want to be on the safe side, you can add only a small amount of charcoal first, then add more when you want to increase the fire.

Step 6: Light the Fire

Now, it’s time for action!

Get a charcoal lighter fluid and pour a small amount on the charcoal. You won’t need a large amount because you already have vegetable oil to activate the fire. 

When the fire starts, you need to keep monitoring it because it’ll go on for days. You can cover it with a metal basin at night and make sure to wet the area surrounding it with water to keep the fire at bay.

And, of course, keeping a fire extinguisher close is recommended in case the fire gets out of control.

Step 7: Clear Around the Stump

After the stump is done burning, it’ll leave a whole load of ashes behind for you to deal with. You’ll basically have an ashy hole in the middle of your yard, which needs cleaning as soon as possible.

To clean it, grab a shovel and take all the ashes out of the hole. Then, check for any pieces from the stump left behind, and remove them using your garden tools. After you’re done, fill the crater with fresh topsoil.

It’s worth noting, though, that there may be some red ashes still hot from the fire. So you’ll need to work carefully and make sure the area is entirely cold before starting. 


Having burning charcoal in your garden isn’t exactly ideal. It poses some risks, and the fire will go on for days. However, there’s no better way to get rid of a stubborn stump. Getting a grinder only solves the problem on the surface because the roots will stay intact.

Alternatively, removing the stump altogether is a messy process that costs a lot and needs a professional.

As long as you familiarize yourself with the safety precautions and plan for everything well, you should be fine.

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