Tree Stump Removal With Potassium Nitrate

In this article, I’ll be showing you how to remove a stump with potassium nitrate.

There are several ways to get rid of a tree stump, some are tedious, expensive, and will leave you drained physically.

Potassium Nitrate Tree Stump Removal Options

When you think of tree stump removal, it is only natural that you picture chainsaws, grinders, and all sorts of power tools.

But have you considered using potassium nitrate?

What Is Potassium Nitrate?

Also known as saltpeter, potassium nitrate is popular for being a major ingredient in the production of gun powder. But ammunition isn’t all it’s good for, as it can also be used those annoying tree stumps.

Using saltpeter to remove tree stumps is pretty effective, as it hastens the decomposition process of wood. Applying it on your stump will leave the wood soft enough to fall apart and easy to remove.

Advantages Of Saltpeter Stump Removal

Every stump removal method has its advantages, and potassium nitrate is not left out.

Below I will list some of these advantages.

It is cheaper: Compared to stump grinding and pulling, using saltpeter to remove tree stump can be considered “free”.

Well, you have to buy the chemical, but there is a huge price gap between the money you will spend on the chemical and the money you will spend paying professionals or hiring a grinder.

You also do not need to pay for the movement of heavy machinery to a site and back to the rental store.

It is not physically challenging: Tree stump removal is a tough job, and most stump removal methods require physical force. Either from the machines or the humans themselves.

All the pulling, digging, and pushing can take a lot out of a person’s energy. Moving grinders back and forth can also be tasking.

This is not the case when using potassium nitrate. The real effort required here is going to the store and buying it. Okay, let’s add drilling the holes with a power-drill and pouring the substance into the stump. How tiring can that be?

For those looking for a “lazy” solution to removing their tree stump, then using potassium nitrate is the way to go.

It is less of a hazard: When you consider what a stump grinder accident can do to a person, then you’d appreciate homemade solutions for stump removal.

As effective as stump grinders are, improper use can lead to very serious injuries or even death.

As for burning the tree stump with diesel or kerosene, you are at the risk of burning yourself if you are not careful. Uncontrolled fires can also damage property in and around your yard.

However, using potassium nitrate doesn’t carry such risks. It is a lot safer than the previously mentioned tree stump removal methods.

It is noiseless: With a tree stump grinder, there will be a lot of noise during removal. For this reason, you need to put on some earbuds to guard against the noise.

It is not so when using potassium nitrate for tree removal, as the whole process is almost noiseless. Apart from trimming the stump low with a chainsaw, there will be no other form of noise.

Your next-door neighbor will have no idea what you are up to.

Disadvantages Of Removing Tree Stump With Potassium Nitrate

If you are considering using potassium nitrate to remove your tree stump, you also have to think about the disadvantages before you begin.

I’d list out some of those disadvantages below.

It takes time: For this substance to work, you have to exercise a great deal of patience. I’m talking about months! So if you have a party planned in your yard next week, and you need the stump gone before that time, using potassium nitrate would be a disappointing idea.

For me, this is the major disadvantage that comes with using potassium nitrate.

How To Rot Tree With Potassium Nitrate

Below are the steps you need to take to rot a tree stump using potassium nitrate.

Drill The Holes

You will need a power drill to do this.

Make several holes across the surface of the tree stump and the sides. The holes should go about 12 mm deep, and they should have about 4 to 6-inch spaces between them.

If you can access the roots of the tree, then you can dig holes in them too, as this will help the process go faster.

Use up as much space as you can find on the stump. Remember, the more holes you have, the more saltpeter you can add.

Add Potassium Nitrate

Now that your holes have been dug, proceed to pour the potassium nitrate into each of the holes. Do not fill them to the very top, as you need to create some space to add warm water.

Add Warm Water

The next step is to add warm water into the holes. The function of the warm water is to dilute the potassium sulfate, which will help it sink into the body of the stump faster.

Cover The Stump With A Tarp

When your potassium nitrate solution has been added, you need to give it about two weeks to work.

In-between that period, you would want to cover up the top of the stump with a tarp. The reason you’re doing this is to protect it from rainfall, which can wash the solution away and slow down the process.

To make sure the tarp stays on top, you can place some rocks on it. You can also get a rope and bind it to the stump.

Doing this will prevent the tarp from being blown away by the wind.

Add Mulch

Organic mulch can be added to the top of the stump. This is optional, it all depends on how fast you want the tree stump to rot. I assume you want it to rot as fast as possible.

Tree stumps need moisture to rot, and the organic mulch can provide the right amount.

Check on the mulch regularly, if you see that it is getting dried up, you can take the old mulch off and add some fresh ones.


As I have said before, using potassium nitrate for tree stump removal requires a lot of patience. It could take months for the tree stump to finally rot, but this depends on the size of the tree.

Repeat The Process

During the waiting period, you can repeat the process as I have mentioned above. Except drilling of course (unless you find spaces you missed the first time).

Check on the stump regularly to see how much progress you are making. If you find that the tree has absorbed all the potassium nitrate solution in the holes, then add some more.

Remember to add warm water so it can be well diluted.

Dig Up The Stump

It would take about 8 weeks for the potassium nitrate to fully rot the stump. This time bracket will differ with different tree stumps, as some species will rot faster or slower than others.

After waiting for a good number of weeks, the potassium nitrate would have softened the stump to the point where you can dig it up and remove it along with its roots.

Planting A New Tree In The Same Spot As Potassium Rotted Stump

After the potassium nitrate has done its job and the old tree stump has been taken out, you will be left with a barren space and a hole, caused by the stump removal.

I’m sure you wouldn’t want to leave the space empty, especially if it’s in a nice position.

The truth is, you can plant a new tree in the same position, but not immediately. Remember, the tree stump removal was induced, and it didn’t take a completely natural course.

This means the soil on that area may have lost its nutrients due to all the potassium nitrate solution that would have been soaked in the ground.

You need to give the soil some time to recover before planting. This is very important for new trees, as they need all the moisture they can get.

Ideally, you need to leave that space barren for about a year. By then, the soil must have regained all its lost nutrients and it will be suitable for planting once more.

As you wait for the soil to recover from the bombardment of potassium nitrate, you may want to consider a few things before you re-plant. One of the things to consider is the kind of tree you want to plant in the same spot.

If the soil type is suitable for the tree, then you can go ahead with your plans.

You should also clear out the area and rid it of the debris of any kind. Find out if there are pests from the old tree stump still lurking around. Get rid of them as fast as you can before they spread to other trees.

Making this preparation will give your soil a chance to recover quicker, and will set the stage for a new plant.


I trust this article on how to remove a tree stump with potassium nitrate has been helpful.

Good luck!

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