Au naturale stripper. If you're planning on adding some color to your nursery or kid's room - repainting some old furniture, for example - you might need to remove paint or varnish first. Traditional solvents carry a strong, lingering odor - strong enough that they're best used outdoors so the fumes can disperse. And don't even get us started on the the knee and back pain of using sandpaper or sanders. We spotted Soy Gel on the web and are waiting for a project to give it a try. Made from soy beans, it is nontoxic, biodegradable and nearly odor-free, making it safe for indoor use - great news for apartment dwellers without outdoor space. Because it's a gel, you can apply it to vertical spaces (fireplaces, furniture) and it stays in place instead of running off as a liquid would.
The manufacturer, Franmar Chemical, says that Soy Gel removes multiple layers of paint and begins working in minutes. You can see some photos on their website of paint and varnish removal from furniture, wood and cement floors and a fireplace.
Rather see a consumer review? This mother of a 19-month old wrote a review on her blog, MirrorMirror, and provides some photos of Soy Gel (which she dubs "magic in a bottle") going to work on her painted brick fireplace.
So far we haven't found Soy Gel locally at our hardware or home improvement stores, but there are a few online sources. It's sold by the quart ($20) or gallon ($62) at Amazon. Or in larger quantities directly from the manufacturer.