Taking all factors into consideration, wc believe the best method is chemical removal. It is sloppy, and you must take precautions because you are dealing with strong chemicals. However, on balance — considering the hazards, the work methods, and the eventual results — chemical stripping seems to be best.
The basic chemical in today's stripping mixtures is methylene chloride. Others that may be added (.depending on the brand) arc toluene, methyl alcohol or methanol, mineral spirits and triethyl-am-monium phosphate. These mixtures are hazardous and should be used with great care,
HOW TO SAFELY First, these mix-USE CHEMICAL tures are flamma-STRIPPERS ble. Do not use them in a basement work area where there is a furnace with a pilot light, a gas water heater or anything else with an open flame. And you absolutely should not smoke while using them. They are not only fiammable, but when methylene chloridc burns it makes deadly phosgene gas. By inhaling the fumes of a stripper through a cigarette, you could poison yourself.
Second, they are caustic and prolonged contact with the skin will cause burning. They will cause serious injury if splashed in the eyes.
Third, the vapor produced by these mixtures is hazardous, and we advise you to avoid any prolonged breathing of it. Always work in a well-ventilated area, preferably with one fan to exhaust fumes from the room and one to blow fresh air in.
Fourth, the government says that persons having (or suspectcd of having) heart trouble or any pulmonary disorder should consult with a physician before using these products.
This is a frightening list and may discourage you from doing your own stripping. We don't like to take a negative or scary approach to anything, but in a case like this, the hazards seem serious enough to merit it. In the past, there has been too much emphasis on "it's easy to do with our product." and not enough emphasis on the dangers of the products. The bottom line is this: if you know enough about the dangers, and know how to guard against them, then you are more likely to use the product safely and effectively. The potential risks arc real.
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