How to Dissolve Tree Stumps


Physically removing a tree stump requires more tools than most home gardeners have at their disposal. And hiring a tree removal service can be expensive. Many homeowners choose to dissolve tree stumps on their property with chemicals. But, despite the claims of many commercial products, this process does not happen overnight. Any number of chemicals can be used to dissolve a tree stump, but they merely accelerate the decomposition process and it can take years to completely dissolve a tree stump.

Step 1

Use an axe or a chainsaw to cut the stump as close to ground level as possible.

Step 2

Drill several holes into the main stump that are at least 1 inch in diameter. The more holes in the stump and the deeper they go, the more quickly the tree stump will dissolve.

Step 3

Fill each of the holes with an accelerant. Rock salt,, commercial stump killers, high-nitrogen fertilizer, potassium nitrate (saltpeter), sulfuric acid, nitric acid, sugar and stump-killer are all acceptable accelerants that speed the decomposition process to varying degrees.

Step 4

Pour boiling water into the holes repeatedly until all of the chemical has dissolved and absorbed into the stump.

Step 5

Repeat steps three and four every six weeks until the stump is decomposed.

Things You'll Need

  • Axe
  • Chainsaw
  • Drill
  • 1-inch drill bit
  • Potassium nitrate (saltpeter)
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Nitric acid
  • Sugar
  • Rock salt


  • Ed Hume Seeds: Tree-Killing and Stump Removal
  • University of Florida: Vanishing Stumps
  • University of Minnesota: Removing Trees and Shrubs
  • Colorado State University: Stump Removal
  • Urban Forestry South Expo: Stump Removal Methods
Keywords: dissolve stump, remove stump, stump chemical, tree stump removal

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.