Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Epsom Salt to Remove Tree Stumps

"Tree Stump Removal - Get rid of tree stumps by drilling holes in the stump and filling them with 100% Epsom salt. Follow with water, and wait. Live stumps may take as long as a month to decay, and start to decompose all by themselves."

A fan sent me this and I was rather curious since I've done a Good Idea Friday in the past on how plants love epsom salt. It took me a bit but I found the source of the image. Guess what? It's for a chemical powder you add to stumps, not epsom salts. But would epsom salts work? 

I found quite a lot of websites that mention this method, but one thing stood out to me - a lot of them said ether rock salt or epsom salt. But as I address in the previous epsom salt post, epsom salt isn't like table/ rock salt. They have different chemical compositions, "salt" is a quite broad scientific term. I have no doubt that perhaps rock salt would work, but the minerals that make up epsom salt I don't see working as well. 

I walked along my lawn trying to find maybe an old stump I didn't know was there, but alas I had none to test this out on. I looked online assuming since it seems like such a popular idea that there would be people who have attempted this as well, but could only find one blog post that talked about actually using this method. Over at Lisa Earthgirl, she writes about trying this out. I asked how it was coming along but unfortunately due to a damp summer, she's going to have to try it again to see if it shows any results. Most other search results ether pulled up questionable commercial sites, or seemed to be along the lines of  "a friend of a friend tried this with success" 

So I'm not calling this a Bad Idea yet, but unproven to date. Personally I think you'd have far more success with something like rock salt which is known to kill plants. If you've tried this with conclusive results, please let us know! 


  1. Epsom Salts are Magnesium Sulphate which will in solution in small quantities combat the yellowing of plant leaves caused by the lack of magnesium. Just because the word 'salt' is used, do not believe this has any relationship to sea salt or table salt which is Sodium Chloride. I use Epsom Salts routinely to assist my potted Bouganvillea, dissolving a teaspoon of the crystals in a gallon of water.
    Epsom salts, poured into drilled holes in the stump of any live tree will kill it and prevent it re=shooting. Not a bad idea and proven for well over 100 years. The stump will rot away at exactly the same speed as a dead stump. The rate at which it rots merely reflects the hardness of the timber which is usually a feature of its rate of growth. Hardwoods, like oak last longer than softwoods like pine

  2. Anonymous10/11/13

    im going to try it on Monday with large sea salt crystals I will get back at ya

  3. Both rock salt and epsom salt can be used to remove tree stumps. The problem with the former is that its high sodium levels would make the soil unfit for planting later on. Epsom salt is more preferable in this regard. Nonetheless, removing a tree stump with chemicals can take a very long time. I prefer doing a stump grinding.

    Billy Quaid @

    1. Anonymous15/8/15

      tried Epsom salt. Doesn't work. Turns stump black and thats it


  5. Hmm. This is interesting. Epsom salts are generally considered as a drying agent and so putting them on stumps will likely dry out the stumps, essentially killing them. I do have reservations with this method as a rotting tree can also draw some unwanted creatures like termites to nest on it. At the end of the day though, it depends on how fast you want the stump gone. If you are not in any hurry then you can always try this out, but if the time and situation calls for the stump to be removed immediately, then you can try some professional tree services.

    Hannes Dewet

  6. I do agree, Epsom salt is mentioned in most sites as a method on how to get rid of old tree stumps, but no one can really confirm whether they work or not. What do you think about this method personally? I hope to see your results on this blog soon, if you ever decide to try it out. 
    Richard Smith

  7. Anonymous5/4/14

    Epsom salt will KILL the stump but not directly make it ROT. Of course rotting can begin once a stump is dead. I read somewhere (?) to put high nitrogen fertilizer in the drilled holes and around the base to promote rotting of an already dead stump and I will be trying that. In the past, for dead stumps I am patient about removing, I remove soil around the base and hack or drill holes as best I can all over the stump. Then I put a pile of already rotting leaves and/or rotting log (from the woods) on and around the stump and keep it moist. The microbes and bugs in that stuff then start munching on the stump pretty quickly. I have had fairly large newly dead stumps rot enough in one year with this method that I could take an axe and remove them. Oak and hickory certainly take longer than pine and cherry around here.

  8. Anonymous22/4/14

    I drilled holes in a stump in July, 2012 and put Epsom Salt in the holes. I do not believe there was any aggressive decay of that stump from the salt. A few days ago, April, 2014, I put more Epsom Salt and Vinegar on the stump and two days later I checked the stump and it as soft ..soft enough I was able to pull some of it apart with my hands. I added more salt and vinegar but haven't been able to check it for two days. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to check it and will find it is soft enough to be destroyed with a shovel.

  9. Epsom salt will kill the stump gradually. Rock salt is quite not popular otherwise would go viral. For implementation i think its nice to try things out and if successful, then becomes a must to be shared. Thanks for the information shared.

  10. That is so cool that you can use Epsom Salt to remove tree stumps. I have had this stump in my yard for a few years now that I want to get rid of. Hopefully something like this will get rid of it without having to call a professional service to remove it for me.

  11. I was going to try the Epsom salts method (I read about it on This Old House's site) but when my husband and I were at Home Depot yesterday we stumbled upon a product called Stump-Out so we'll try it instead. I don't care if the stump rots, I just want the life out of it so we won't end up with another $5,000 plumbing bill because the roots keep destroying the sewer lines.

    I would have the stump removed, but it's half on our property, half on the neighbors AND the neighbors chain link fence is somewhere INSIDE of the stump.

  12. Interesting article, thanks for writing it for us! Tree Service Brooklyn NY