The HotShot is an organic herbicide sprayer - it kills weeds with a pressurized jet of hot water and dilute acid. Just point and shoot. Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on March 13, 2013.
About this project
Introducing the HotShot
Every year millions of gardeners walk into garden shops to purchase tools that are guaranteed to make weeding easy and quick – and the next year they return and do it again. Why? Because none of these tools worked . . . until now.
Imagine you had a tool you could point at a weed, pull the trigger and kill the weed from a distance of 3 or 4 feet away. The HotShot is that tool. Easy to use, gentle on the environment (organic herbicides only) and easy on your back and knees. Kill between 240 and 300 weeds an hour without breaking a sweat.
Weeds have been the bane of gardeners for thousands of years and until now the solutions were either;
1. Dig them out yourself.
2. Pay someone else to dig them out.
3. Use an herbicide like Roundup (a systemic glyphosate herbicide).
The HotShot now provides another option - killing weeds with an organic herbicide (vinegar or citric acid) in a sprayer. Based on a method our grandparents used (the teakettle), the HotShot kills weeds with a scalding solution of water and acid- killing the weed and leaving a small amount of dilute acid in the soil which washes away with the first rain.
With the HotShot you can walk your property with a unit the size of a laptop computer with a wand attached, slung over your shoulder, point the wand at a weed, pull the trigger and ZAP – the crown of the plant is killed by the scalding water and the acid makes regeneration more difficult for the remaining root.
The HotShot is safe, effective and easy on the Earth,
Q - What is the HotShot and how does it work?
A. Think of a high powered squirt gun that shoots boiling hot water and acid on a plant, killing everything above ground.
Q. Why use acid (vinegar or citric)?
A. Grandma used water and vinegar in a teakettle because vinegar is an organic herbicide that desiccates plant tissues and makes regrowth more difficult. Citric acid is easier to use, more concentrated and more effective.
Q. What precautions should I take when using the HotShot?
A. Unlike non-organic herbicides such as Roundup, and 2,4-D, the HotShot does not require masks, respirators, long sleeved clothing or gloves. However the HotShot is not a toy and severe burns can result if the jet is directed at people or pets - safety glasses are recommended.
Q. Do I need to spray the entire weed – leaves and all?
A. No, although it is very satisfying to do so. The crown of a plant – where the plant starts growing above ground is the most vulnerable tissue. Kill the crown and you've destroyed the plant’s ability to transport energy to the root and minerals to the leaves by destroying the vascular system of the plant.
Q. Why do the leaves stay green after the crown is dead?
A. Because the leaves still contain chlorophyll. Think of the lettuce in your refrigerator, the leaves of lettuce are green even though they are no longer connected to the root of the plant.
Q. How long do I need to spray the weed?
A. Small weeds will only require 5 seconds or less. Larger weeds may take 10 to 15 seconds.
Q. What do I do if the weed grows back?
A. The HotShot is about 90% effective with each application. Some weeds have more robust root systems than others and may take more than one application before they starve.
Q. Will the HotShot kill plants other than weeds?
A. Yes – the Hotshot sprays a non-selective herbicide but the needle-thin jet allows you to target weeds accurately, even those growing among the plants you wish to keep.
Q. Is the herbicide used by the HotShot systemic?
A. No, it is a contact herbicide and only affects the portion of the plant that contacts the spray.
Q. Will the acid make lasting changes to my soil or the microbes that live there?
A. No – the change in soil pH (acid) may cause some microbes to become dormant until the next rain but they will not be harmed. http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/publications/Ag-614.pdf http://phys.org/news188230310.html
Q. If I treat the weeds in my lawn, can I just allow the surrounding grasses to grow over the dead weed?
A. Yes, but your lawn will benefit and recover more quickly if you add some grass seed and then mulch the spot with compost.
Q. After using the HotShot is my garden safe for children and pets?
A. Yes – there is nothing left in your soil to harm people, pets, insects or other wildlife.
Q. If hot water kills the plant, why add acid?
A. Two reasons – because the acid causes increased cell death and makes regeneration more difficult for the plant and because the acid removes the scale buildup in the HotShot (much like a coffee maker).
Q. Can I use the HotShot to kill insects, snails and slugs?
Q. Will the HotShot work with any household electrical outlet?
A. No – you must have a 120 volt line with a 15 Amp fuse or circuit breaker for the HotShot to work. Most modern homes have 15 Amp fuses but if yours does not, a qualified electrician can run a line for you.
Q. Will I need an extension cord?
A. Yes – the HotShot comes with a short electrical lead (with an integrated GFI) that must be plugged into an extension cord – only 10 and 12 gauge cords are recommended. Be aware that when purchasing an extension cord that longer distances require a more robust cord – never try to use a 14 gauge cord for any power tool – too much energy is lost to resistance and your tool will burn out long before its time.
Q. Do I need to wait for dry weather to use the HotShot?
A. No – the HotShot is just as effective with wet weeds as dry and you can use it in any season and any temperature as well.
Q. Do I need to be careful about using the HotShot during windy days?
A. No – because the jet is needle thin and the herbicide is organic, the small amount of drift occurring on windy days will not affect the surrounding plants.
Q. Are some plants more difficult to treat (kill) with the HotShot.
A. Yes – there are some plants with distributed root systems (blackberries, bamboo, bindweed, ivy, etc.) that do not have a distinct “crown” to target.
Q. Can I use household vinegar instead of citric acid?
A. Yes – although the concentration of acid applied to the weed will be lower.
Q. Can weeds develop resistance to the hot water and acid?
A. No – unlike petrochemical herbicides, plants cannot develop a defense against boiling water.
Q. Will the HotShot kill the weeds growing in my sidewalk and driveway?
A. Yes – without damaging the pavement and without lethal runoff.
Q. What if I don't have hoses enough to reach all of my yard - is there a backpack water supply planned?
A. At this time it is being considered.
This is what remains after a large weed is treated by the HotShot;
Risks and challenges
The primary challenge of the HotShot is to make a portable “espresso machine” that you can easily sling over your shoulder and take outside. Heat and pressure must be contained and directed efficiently so that the heat energy is transferred to the weed. Although the prototype was built from parts pulled from espresso machines, those machines aren't built to run for more than a couple of minutes. The HotShot must be engineered for long duty cycles and sturdy enough to be used by gardeners and yard care professionals.
The second challenge is to make the HotShot as sustainable as possible. This will require recycled content whenever possible for the components and shipping materials, and avoiding known environmental contaminants such as vinyl.
The third challenge is to make the HotShot easy to use. As you can see from the prototype, the original concept looked like something out of Mad Max movie set..
Conceptual Prototypes - completed and both have functioned as designed.
Engineered Prototypes - scheduled for completion and testing June 2013
Production Prototypes - scheduled for completion and testing September 2013
Production Models - scheduled for completion and shipping November 2013
The HotShot is protected by a US Provisional Patent . Our production plan is to have manufacturing in the US from domestic and foreign parts.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
- (30 days)