HomeTechnologyNewsCan you really use a flamethrower to clear snow from your driveway?

Can you really use a flamethrower to clear snow from your driveway?

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You may have recently seen a viral video of a man dressed as Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Holidays melting the snow from his driveway with a flamethrower. Where did he get it? Does it really work?

Can you clear the snow from the flamethrower driveway?

Heat is the enemy of snow, and applying a lot at once will do the job. In fact, in a roundabout and absolutely ridiculous way, you’re using the sun to melt snow when you use a flamethrower.

The launchers use fossil fuels, a dense energy source created by ancient organic matter that is compressed and concentrated over millions of years in the Earth’s crust. Some of us hope that today’s sun will melt the snow, and others, like Timothy Browning, seen in the video below, prefer to invoke the sun of yesteryear.

We’re making that tongue-in-cheek argument, of course, because it’s a technically true but slightly overblown argument to claim that shooting a flaming gasoline-diesel mix on your driveway is actually using sunlight. So let’s ask the important question instead: does it work?

In December 2020, Browning’s video went viral after he shared it on Facebook. In the video, he is dressed as Cousin Eddie from Christmas holidaysin a white coat, black shoes and socks, and everything down to the fur-lined soldier’s hat and cigar.

But instead of holding an RV drain hose like Cousin Eddie does in the movie, he’s holding a flamethrower and clearing snow from his driveway in the process. The sheer novelty of this has ensured that video of him has circulated every winter since.

Would this be practical for the two feet of snow I had to get out of the other day? No problem. Handheld models only have a run time of about 30-60 seconds (you’ll notice the video above is about 60 seconds long) and backpack models only have a run time of a few minutes.

That might be enough for a small driveway with a dusting of snow (which is what we see in Browning’s video), but you’re not going to clear inches and inches of snow. In such cases, you end up with a pile of partially melted, sooty snow.

There’s no question about it, there’s a dramatic and fun wow factor, but when you’re done, you may end up with some unburned fuel littering your driveway or sidewalk. If there’s any doubt as to whether that happens, just look closely at the bottom; there are small pools of burning fuel on the ground.

The video below, from The King of Random, shows how ineffective it is to use different types of flamethrowers in the snow. Most of the heat rises into the air and the snow melts slowly in a very localized manner.

But the better question is: would it have been safe to do it in my driveway with flammable gardens and a picket fence closely surrounding it? Probably not. And that’s probably the case for anyone who doesn’t have a driveway with plenty of open space around it.

I could easily discuss the number of situations where “would it be safe?” applies to a flamethrower capable of throwing a flame 25 to 30 feet is very small.

Can you legally buy a flamethrower?

Maybe the video of Browning clearing his driveway made you think, “That’s the craziest, most wasteful thing I’ve ever seen!” Or maybe he made you think: “I need a flamethrower!” And if you’re in the latter group, you’re in luck.

It would be easy to assume that Browning’s flamethrower was military surplus he got his hands on or a homemade contraption that blew up in a mad scientist manufacturing space, but surely it’s not a legal thing to do, he just put a credit card in the Mesa to buy .

A man using a flamethrower in the desert.

It turns out that in the United States there are no federal regulations against flamethrowers. Only two states have regulations against them, California and Maryland; Local ordinances may vary, so check local and state laws before purchasing.

But if you are in any of the lower 48 states and there are no local ordinances against it, you can live out your snow melting fantasy with Cousin Eddie by visiting XM42.com, finding a dealer, and purchasing the XM42 flamethrower pictured above. up

But then again, it’s not as effective (or safe) as a snow removal tool. Also, depending on the bells and whistles, it will run you $600-1200 or more. If you’re craving a novelty item and have the right crowd to show it to them, it just might be a worthwhile purchase. But for most people, it’s probably best left as an entertaining viral video.

What should you buy instead?

If you’re willing to spend hundreds of dollars removing snow from your driveway, and you’re also willing to forgo doing it with a 25-foot flame, there are much better ways to spend your money, like buying an actual snow blower.

Also, if you want a quick way to deal with the kind of light dust seen in the viral video above, you really can’t beat using a good battery-powered electric leaf blower.

I love mine for homework. Anytime we get light snow, I just put a battery in my leaf blower and blow the powdery snow off my car and driveway.

EGO Power+ 765CFM 56V Leaf Blower

If you’re looking for snow with sheets, it’s hard to beat a powerful battery-powered model like this EGO Power+ option. It will easily remove snow from your yard, car, and even low eaves without reeking of exhaust fumes.

Finally, you’re in luck if you have a strong use case for deploying fire in your ice and snow removal efforts.

While using a legitimate flamethrower that spews a flaming mixture of diesel and gasoline fuel all over your driveway and sidewalk isn’t the cleanest or safest way to go, there is a practical way to use fire in a cleaner way. clean and controlled

They are called “flame strippers” and are simply a long wand that connects to a propane tank. They come in two sizes, a light-duty wand that hooks up to a small propane tank (like the kind you use for a camp stove), and a heavy-duty wand that hooks up to a 20-pound tank (like the type you use for a camp stove). that you use for Grilled).

Flame King Propane Torch Kit

This heavy-duty propane torch kit will help you melt ice buildup safely without having to salt the ground to do so.

You can use the modest flame at the end to kill weeds without pesticides in the summer, and in the winter, you can use it to defrost surfaces without using salt, though if you buy it mostly for weeds and sometimes ice I highly recommend getting the light duty option as the flame is much narrower and better suited for precision.

When I have very stubborn ice buildup in areas where I don’t want to dump tons of salt (which speeds up the wearing down of the underlying concrete in the process), I use a flame weeder to gently melt the ice. In fact, when talking to Snopes, Browning noted that he and his son had shoveled most of the snow, but broke the flamethrower to melt the ice before relatives came to visit.

While it’s not as environmentally friendly as waiting for Mother Nature to melt it down, propane burns clean and doesn’t litter the ground with soot and bits of diesel fuel.

It’s not that dramatic by any means. But so far, I haven’t burned down my house or had neighbors call the police, worried that I’ve finally snapped under the stress of holiday shopping and party planning. That seems like a fair tradeoff to me, all the ice melts without any of the snowy chatter with concerned officers.


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