If you need to remove paint from a copper surface, you need to employ specific strategies and use great care, or you could damage the very surface you are trying to salvage. Because copper is malleable, the wrong paint removal techniques can pinch copper tubing or dent flat copper surfaces. In addition, overly aggressive abrasion techniques can mar the copper with scratches. Before you try to remove paint from copper, you need to lubricate the surface to help loosen the paint and prevent unintentional damage.
Massage a few drops of olive oil onto the paint. Allow the oil to sit for one full minute.
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Wrap the wide, scraping end of a plastic putty knife with a rag. Scrape the lubricated copper surface with the plastic putty knife, using the rag as a buffer between the scraper and the copper.
Dampen a rag with mineral spirits. Do not saturate the rag. Wring excess mineral spirits from the rag if you notice dripping.
Apply mineral spirits to any remaining paint, using the damp rag. Wipe the paint from the copper, using a terry cloth rag. Wipe in a circular, clockwise motion.