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The idea is that the hot water melts away the coating on weed leaves, or it severely damages the weed plant's cellular structure. The weeds are then unable to retain moisture and dehydrate within anywhere from a few days to a few short hours. At times, as with all herbicides, additional treatments may be necessary.
The only real problem with this form of weed management is that the hot water also kills beneficial soil microorganisms (as do traditional chemical methods). Desirable plants with shallow root systems can also be damaged if care is not taken during application.
The hot water method will not control all weeds, but is effective against many. Burning or searing weeds with infrared heat or a propane flamer is equally as effective and may be more energy efficient in the long run.
It won't harm plants that don't get the hot water on them. Basically what the hot water does is "cook" them.
Cut the weed back to ground level and pour the hot water only on the root. Safer for nearby plants and faster destruction of the weed.
I tried this on the grass that was growing between my patio bricks and it worked wonderful. Thank you for such a wonderful suggestion.