Stripping paint from a cast iron pipe

Does anyone have any recommendations for stripping paint from a cast iron pipe?
I have a cast iron pipe that runs through my bathroom. It has a lot of layers of paint which are cracking up. I've tried to use a chemical paint stripper (SoyGel) to remove the paint, but it's messy and really slow going. I'm also a little worried that the paint stripper is eating into the pipe as it goes black quickly when it comes into direct contact with the black cast iron pipe. Are there any other strippers that might be quicker and not react with the metal?
I'm also considering an infrared heat stripper (the Silent Paint Remover). This is designed to strip paint from wood by heating it to 500F and breaking the bond between the wood and the paint. I've heard it might work for metal, but probably not. I'm also worried (I'm a worrier) that cast iron might crack at that temperature and that is the last thing I want. Does anyone know if cast iron can handle high temperatures?
Thanks, Ben Mills
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On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 07:42:39 -0800 (PST), Ben Mills

You might try a heat gun (1500W) and scraper to remove the paint.
The Silent Paint Remover you mention cost about $400.00. You can build yourself one for about $100.00*.
* http://www.oceanmanorhouse.com/paintremover.html -- Oren
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Have you tried mechanical means - scraping with a paint-scraper or putty knife? Wire wheel on electric drill? Another possibility is the stripper where you put on tape, then rip it off (hopefully along with the paint). -- H
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You're using the wrong stripper. Head to the paint store, read the labels and buy the one that says 'methylene chloride' and 'gel'. Likely will be "stripease or similar. Old cast iron is heavily coated with asphaltic paint, and if it comes off you haven't hurt anything. Protect your surroundings with lots of drop cloths, good ventilation, safety goggles, you know the drill. Good luck.
Joe
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Ben Mills wrote:

While its messy, (but no messier or more toxic than chemical paint stripper) how about an compressor powered abrasive bead blaster?
Ground walnut shells are commercially available, as are "glas" breads. Respirator (but you need that with the chenical stuff in a confined place like a bathroom), eye protection ( again you'd need that anyway both brushing chemical on and scraping chemical off), and taping off the door from the inside so dust dosn't get out to the rest of the house should work. Shop vac clean up.
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Ben Mills wrote:

Semi-paste (methlylene-something, NOT water washable) paint remover should make quick work of it. With many layers of old paint, it may take 2-3 applications, but I have stripped a lot of paint and have never found paint that would not be removed with the stuff. It is nasty stuff, so you need to protect surrounding surfaces, especially plastic. I have used it on metals, including brass, and have never seen any sign that it damages metal.
You need to use fine steel wool and mineral spirits to wash off the last remaining residue, as it contains paraffin as a thickener and that might interfere with repaint. Be ready to prime and repaint as soon as you strip (after it dries) it so it doesn't begin to rust first. A primer for rusty metal prob. a good idea.
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or you could box in the pipe and forget about it, it would likely look better that way
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Ben Mills wrote:

What about a sander?
a
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Try a plumbers torch and a wire brush. The torch will melt old paint.
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remember theres likely lead in the old paint, that can be hazardous
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Bah Humbug. It's not Kryptonyte. Just use the wire brush drill or angel grinder atachement and wear a respirator. When you are done, take a shower (preforably in a different bathroom) change your clothes.. Keep the room well ventilated the whole time (I'd use a windoe fan to force air into the house and vent out the bathroom).
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You got a lot of good ideas in other posts, the thing I want to address is your concern about hurting the cast iron ( or perhaps black iron) pipe. Just for the record, if it's a drain pipe it's most likely cast iron, if it's a steam or gas pipe then it's most likely black iron. Either one is pretty tough, they are iron and nothing you can do with a heat gun, wire wheel, torch, sandpaper, or any chemical stripper would likely hurt it. Cast iron is brittle so you could break it with a hammer, black iron you would have to really work at it just to dent it with a hammer. All your doing with the stripper most likely is taking the black coating off black iron pipe, it's painted! The pipe is fine, leave the stripper on and let it work. Just paint it when your done so it doesn't rust and be done with it.
I personally would try the old school very nasty and kind of toxic but quite effective paint strippers and see how that works, give it plenty of time to soften then scrape it off most likely. Ask in a paint or real hardware store, they will know what you need. Wear gloves and keep the window open, these are nasty chemicals but they will take off the paint.
--
Mikey S.
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Mikey S. wrote:

I agree. Some suggestions have gotten a bit toward the "overkill" department. 8' of pipe in a bathroom should not take more than about one hour to strip the paint from. Considering there is old, flaking paint, I would assume it contains lead - should not be sanded or ground because it can leave lead residue all over the house. Liquid paint remover is the best way to remove lead from an interior area. I would tape some heavy--duty aluminum foil around the base before starting - it is a good barrier to protect delicate stuff from paint remover because the vapors can go through plastic or cloth and damage flooring. Some newspaper on top of that and you're good to go. It has been my experience that paint remover acts much quicker on metals than on wood, since there is no penetration. Using a torch and scraper in close quarters not a good idea, either, IMO. Works great outside. If the pipe has a rough texture, steel wool might snag in cleaning up... in that case, use a stiff brush or rags and be sure to clean up with mineral spirits.
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Thanks for everyone's advice. It's a waste pipe, so I'm, pretty sure it's cast iron. I went ahead and used the SoyGel and I have to say that if I give it time to work (24 hours under cling wrap), then it does work well. It probably takes 3 applications to get all the way down to the pipe, but I like the fact that it's non toxic. I think the gel also does a good job of encapsulating any flakes of possibly lead paint. One thing I've noticed is that there's a strong metallic smell. I'll be happy when I get the first coat of Rust-Oleum primer on. The last thing I'm dealing with is that the stripper leaves a really sticky residue that I'm having trouble removing. It sounds like rags and mineral spirits might do the trick.
What is "asphaltic paint"? I initially read that as "asbestos paint" - scary.
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more or less just plain old tar
--
Mikey S.
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