You use it all the time, but what is paint stripper really made of? While commercial products may vary, most of what you’ll find out there has an active ingredient called methylene chloride, which you might also see as dichloromethane. This removes paint but it’s also quite toxic, as that nasty smell of more paint strippers suggest.
In this article I’ll tell you about some other chemicals that strip paint, as well as a homemade paint stripper recipe, and whether or not it’s a good idea to use caustic soda, aka ‘Lye’ for removing paint.
Let’s take a look at paint strippers and what you need to know!
What chemicals will remove paint?
Quite a few chemicals may be used for getting out paint, actually. Some common examples that are used everyday to remove pesky spilled paint, over-sprays, and more include:
These are just a handful of options, but if you want a nice list that goes into details, be sure to check out our guide on DIY paint remover here.
Each of these options have their own pros and cons to keep in mind. For instance, denatured alcohol is flammable, so you don’t want to use it for cleaning around anything hot. Mineral spirits seem like they would damage wood, but in spite of their powerful potency when stripping paint, they don’t seem to harm wood at all.
So, why not try a little experimentation or check out our guide? It never hurts to have a lot of options when it comes to removing paint. Speaking of which, let’s move on to a nice homemade paint remover recipe that you can use!
How do you make homemade paint remover?
Mix these components well until you are left with a thick, gooey paste, and you can use an old, clean paintbrush to brush this goo onto the surface that you are looking to clean. Let the mixture you’ve brushed on stay there for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and by that time a lot of the paint should be loosened.
With a bucket of warm water and a bit of steel wool, give the area a good and thorough scrubbing and then dry it off afterwards once the paint is fully removed.
Repeat as needed if the paint is particularly stubborn, but usually 1 or 2 coats will do the trick unless it’s really layered on thick. If that is the case, simply keep applying your remover and scrubbing… trust me, it’s a good recipe, you’ll get there!
Is caustic soda good for paint stripping?
You may have heard a little about using something called ‘caustic soda’ for removing paint but you probably know it a little better by it’s old-timey name – Lye.
Lye is indeed good for paint stripping, but it’s not very practical unless you are working with a large surface that you need to clean. The problem is that lye requires gloves and goggles if you want to work with it, as it can actually hurt you if you are not careful, thus more modern paint stripping options are usually going to be a better bet.
When it is used, typically it is mixed with water and corn starch to make it a little more manageable and we’ll be posting an article on how you can use it soon, so keep your eyes peeled if you would like to know how to work with it… just be sure to be very safety conscious when you try, as this is strong and serious stuff!
Some closing words on paint strippers
Today we’ve talk about paint strippers and how most of them have an active ingredient called methylene chloride, which gives paint strippers that ‘bouquet-piquant’ smell that we all know so well. We’ve also talked about making homemade paint stripper with borax, ammonia, washing soda, and water, and why caustic soda is good for stripping (but you probably don’t want to use it!).
Whether you go with commercial or homemade, I wish you luck on getting that old paint out and the new coat on! By the way, if you’d like to read a little more on paint stripper types out there, you can find a nice 3rd party article here with some useful info to add to your paint-stripping arsenal.