Q. I want to find a replacement of methylene chloride- based paint strippers. Please guide us about good alternative paint stripper formulations. Thanks. R.S.
A. For many decades, methylene chloride has been the solvent of choice for effective and quick paint stripping. However, due to concerns related to the environment as well as the health and safety issues associated with it, there has been considerable effort to find alternatives to this solvent.
Chemically, I am aware of two alternatives that have found their way to the market. One method utilizes a very high pH, caustic-type system applied at high temperatures (to about 200°F) to essentially break down the paint at the surface. This may still require some amount of physical removal of paint, either manually or possibly with a washer. Another solvent-based system that has been developed uses n-methyl pyrrolidone (also known as nMP). This is a strong polar solvent that forms the base of several new solvent-based paint strippers and is more environmentally and worker friendly than the methylene chloride.