Hi, Oneida. With stripping paint, it's not just a question of which is the easiest way as you should consider a safe way also. I use Citristrip or similar products for most stripping since they offer the best combination of ease, safety and availability. For places where you have a lot of layers of paint, 10 or more, you might want to go to using Peel Away. It is easy to use, not quite as safe to use, harder to find and perhaps more expensive than Citristrip but does work great for a heavy paint build-up. There are various methyl chloride based strippers available but I feel that they are unsafe to use and personally will not use them.
When using any stripper, you must wear chemical resistant gloves and eye protection. If you are working overhead, the eye protection should be goggles. And be sure to keep kids and pets out of the work area at all times. Be sure that you have good ventilation in the work area also with Citristrip.
With Citristrip, you glob it on with a cheap, natural fiber brush, let it work and remove the paint/stripper goo with a putty knife and/or stripper pad or other tools after the paint or other finish has crazed well and lifted from the wood or other substrate. Don't brush back over it any more than necessary as that releases the chemicals that do the work. With Peel Away, you glob it on then apply the special paper to keep the chemicals in contact.
I can't tell you how long to leave it on since there are so many different factors. Doing a small test area will give you a better feel for your particular project. You can leave Citristrip on for 24 hours with no problem and Peel Away on for 48 hours. With just a couple coats of clear finish like varnish or lacquer, an hour may be enough.
That should give you a pretty good basis for a decision and if you have further questions, let us know. Good luck and be safe. Henry in MI