tree stump destroyers

ForestFair forestfair at
Wed Feb 11 23:24:53 EST 1998

ukgovt at (Ukgovt) asked:

>does anybody have information on the use of Sodium metabisulphate as a tree
>strump destroyer?  If not do you know of any 'safe' chemicals that speed up
>decomposition of tree stumps?  

Are you certain that it's Sodium Metabisulfate and not Sodium Metabisulfite
(also known as Sodium Pyrosulfite)?  The latter is used in the pharmaceutical
industry as an antioxidant, but I couldn't find any reference to the
metabisulfate form.

I won't vouch for the safety of the method(s) below, but from my 1910 edition
of the Scientific American Cyclopedia of Formulas comes the following:

"Stumps of Trees, To Destroy. 
  In the fall bore a hole in the center of the stump, about 18 in. deep and 1
to 1 1/5 in. in diameter.  Put in about 2 oz. of saltpeter, and fill the hole
with water; plug it up tight.  In the spring take out the plug, pour in 8 or 10
oz. of petroleum, ignite, and the stump will smoulder, but not blaze, to the
extremities of the roots, leaving only ashes.  Dynamite is also extensively

(Saltpeter is Potassium Nitrate)

If it's a single stump, not in the way of anything,, you could plant something
like Boston Ivy to cover it, and let time take care of the  decomposition.

Family Forest Fair '98, Oct. 3 & 4, Greenwich NY 
I-87 to Saratoga Springs, Exit 14, west on Route 29

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