Is RV Antifreeze Safe? Better Safe Than Sorry!

Is RV Antifreeze Safe? Better Safe Than Sorry!

Anyone wants to keep their RVs in good shape, and using antifreeze in your vehicles is one of the simplest ways to do so. Antifreeze is a good product for maintaining your engine and water lines, and there are many options available in the market. Despite the magic antifreeze does in your vehicles, you may still be wondering if using antifreeze is indeed safe or not.

Propylene glycol RV antifreeze is safe when used since manufacturers ensure they are made from non-toxic ingredients. This is ideal, just in case you happen to drink some of it from the plumbing system. In contrast, ethanol-based RV antifreeze is unsafe because of the natural ethanol’s toxicity and is flammable.

If you are concerned with the safety and dangers of using the common RV antifreeze in the market, this article is for you. Here, I will discuss the things to check on RV antifreeze and what makes it safe or unsafe for use also, if it is dangerous, how to dispose of it properly to avoid future disasters.

RV Antifreeze Ingredients That Makes It Safe or Not

The available RV Antifreeze in the market is generally ethanol and propylene-glycol-based. There are also RV antifreeze products that have a blend of the two. These two major RV antifreeze variants have advantages and disadvantages over the other. Here, let us look at the primary ingredients that make RV antifreeze safe or unsafe.

Ethanol: A Common Component of RV Antifreeze

The typical RV antifreeze in your local shops that are readily available and usable has ethanol as their main ingredient. This RV antifreeze product can help dry out the rubber seals inside faucets and toilets and prevents your water from freezing when the temperature drops. It’s priced relatively lower than the propylene-glycol-based ones, which are the best options.

There is no doubt that ethanol can prevent your water lines and plumbing systems from freezing come winter, but the main issue is the safety of use. The natural toxicity of ethanol because of its biological subgroup, acetaldehyde, poses a significant risk to your health. Also, ethanol is flammable and has been recorded to contaminate your plumbing systems. Since it is also volatile, it is not ideal to light a fire or smoke a cigarette when you use this. It also produces a smell that would somehow affect the taste of the water.

Although it has been a known ingredient of alcoholic drinks, consuming this alone can cause ethanol intoxication, with children having higher chances of acquiring it. Hence, you need to be extra careful when using this product.

If you and your family live in an RV full-time and use this product, you should treat this as a toxic compound kept away from children’s reach and should be well-flushed in your plumbing system before drinking water. Some of those who already tried an ethanol-based RV antifreeze say that their water had a funny taste or smell quite bad, after use which is undesirable.

Another issue with this RV antifreeze ingredient is that it dries out all the rubber seals and rubber gaskets in your travel trailer, which means you need to replace them in a few years. So, If you want to save a few bucks yet still get the benefits from using an RV antifreeze, then an ethanol-based one can be your top option. Just keep in mind the cons that come with it.

The Best Ingredient: Propylene-Glycol

The safest RV antifreeze variant you can get are those that are propylene-glycol based. This RV antifreeze product will not affect the taste of your water in the coming springtime. Primarily, this compound is a lubricant that will help extend the longevity of the rubber seals and gasket of the plumbing system of your motorhome.

The propylene-glycol is a good ingredient since it prevents expansion, lowering water’s freezing point, and does not taint your pipes, and can be used to increase the seals of faucets and toilets inside your motorhome. This is very important because it will lower the risk of water contamination, a safety issue. It is also non-flammable.

Of course, this RV antifreeze may come a little higher in price compared to the ethanol-based RV antifreeze. One major downside is the availability of this product in your local shops. Usually, there are only accredited dealers or shops that sell this variant.

In terms of health, propylene glycol is generally safe to use. One proof of its safety is that it is used as a component of cosmetics and food additives. It does not irritate the skin. Being odorless and colorless, it is ideal for use.

The Best of Both: Ethanol/Propylene-Glycol Blend

This product has ethanol and propylene-glycol components, but each manufacturer has a different percentage of the substance used. It is a mixture of ethanol plus propylene and is known to make your RV’s water taste different when you thaw things after winter, but it is safe to use for RV plumbing systems that aim to dry out seals in the pipes.

Some have higher ethanol content than others since ethanol is affordable. Just check the label to make sure of its components. Like other products, It is said to be a non-toxic liquid solution for the winterization of your RV, again, depending on the proportions of ethanol used.

The Magic Of RV Antifreeze

Going on adventures in your RV despite the freezing colds can still be a pleasure, especially if your water lines don’t freeze. This is solved by your RV antifreeze which is such an excellent product to use.

The Perfect Reason To Use RV Antifreeze

Using an RV antifreeze is a part of winterizing your RV, especially preventing your freshwater supply from freezing. You might also hear the word automotive antifreeze, which should not be confused with RV antifreeze. The former is a toxic product that is not meant to be added to your drinking water lines.

Adding RV antifreeze lowers the freezing point of your water, banning it from freezing quickly when temperatures get cold. Some RV antifreeze variants also have lubricants that seal your plumbing system. Therefore, RV antifreeze is a good option if you live in an RV full time or travel in freezing temperatures. Be sure, though, to remember that you are not meant to consume or drink RV antifreeze, so make sure to flush thoroughly after use.

RV antifreeze is also convenient since it is a diluted solution which means the liquid solution is ready to use after purchase. It is best to prevent the freezing of water and avoid damages to the plumbing system. It is easy to use because you can directly pour it, which means you do not need to blow out the water from the pipelines and plumbing lines. It is also not just for the water system of your motorhomes but can also be used in your boat and pools, making it multipurpose.

Safety of RV Antifreeze Use

RV antifreeze, as discussed, is designed to be a non-toxic solution so that your pipes, tanks, and other parts of the plumbing system are protected. It is best to prevent the freezing of water and avoid damages to the plumbing system. Most RV antifreeze products are non-toxic and safe to use, so it is very beneficial in preparing your motorhome for the coming winter.

However, despite the non-toxicity of this product, it is still not safe to drink and ingest this RV antifreeze solution. Though manufacturers suggested that propylene glycol is considered the safest anti-freezing product, it is still not recommended to drink and consume, especially in large quantities.

Suppose you are getting any second-hand recreational vehicle; make sure to ask the previous owner regarding the kinds of winterization he did for his RV. Still, if you forgot, you could directly clean all the plumbing systems because there is a greater possibility that the previous RVer had used a toxic anti-freezing product not good for your health. 

Yet, you can use or pour an RV antifreeze product (precisely the non-toxic solution) into your RV freshwater tank. You can pump backward a non-toxic antifreeze liquid to the freshwater tank with the use of a faucet spout together with the backflow kit and a hand pump. 

Importantly, RV antifreeze products are made of biodegradable material to avoid any adverse effects on the environment. You won’t have to worry when you accidentally spill and leak its solution to the sewer system. 

Safe Disposal of RV Antifreeze

RV Antifreeze is safe to use, but it does not mean that you can dispose of it anywhere. Though it is a non-toxic solution, it can still harm the environment or cause any trouble if not disposed of properly, especially when you dump it in large quantities.

Reasons Why You Should Dispose of Your RV Antifreeze

Disposing correctly of the RV antifreeze product is a must, especially alcohol-based, which means it is very flammable. So, do not just dump your RV antifreeze product anywhere to avoid accidents. 

RV antifreeze is capable of killing grass when damp to the ground because it is still chemical. This is because of the alcohol it contains, especially the ethanol designed to dry out RV rubber seals and rubber gaskets which can also dry out grass. 

Even though there is a category of the RV antifreeze- propylene glycol, the less toxic solution to the environment, it still has heavy metals toxic to plants and animals. So, be very extra careful when disposing of the RV antifreeze solution. 

In addition, there is a scientific study that propylene glycol, the safest RV antifreeze, is toxic to corn and soybeans. This is because of its vapor that causes plants to lose the healthy color of their leaves and then die. 

Likewise, the propylene glycol vapor is also toxic to humans by damaging the central nervous system. Therefore, learn how to dispose of and properly dump your RV antifreeze.

The Proper Way of Disposing of Your RV Antifreeze

RV antifreeze is reusable, so find out first before dumping it. You can use the extra RV antifreeze to your car if it is compatible, and to make sure of its compatibility, consult your vehicle’s manufacturer. 

It can also be used in your home plumbing system, or consider giving it to someone else who needs it. Another option you should consider is finding a facility that will recycle your RV antifreeze product. 

You may look for some commercial companies that recycle RV antifreeze solutions for the money. Or you may try to contact your RV manufacturer if they can dispose of an RV antifreeze because some stations dispose of this kind of solution. 

If you do not have the options presented above, remember not to dump the RV antifreeze into the sewer, for it can kill bacteria that help the sewage treatment. 

The best way to dispose of your RV antifreeze solution is to drain it from the RV pipelines and plumbing lines to a dump station or into a bucket, then dispose of it properly. One way is to drain into a sand bucket. 

If you have used RV antifreeze to your fresh tank, dispose of it by filling water in it, run the faucets and shower to flush it, and dump it in the gray tank. 

Tips for An Efficient Use of RV Antifreeze

Now that you already know the essential things to consider when using an RV antifreeze, here are some other tips to save and be safe while using this product.

Suppose you purchased a concentrated solution; make sure to mix them all in the right proportion rather than making small parts to get the appropriate and effective concentration. This way, you will not end up having a very diluted or potent mixture.

You can choose from the three types enumerated in this article. No matter what you choose, RV antifreeze protects your motorhome’s pipelines or plumbing lines and is convenient to use. However, it can still cause harm to the environment or even humans if it is not appropriately dumped.

Second, if you plan to change your RV antifreeze products, make sure to flush the first product out of your RV systems before using a new one. This will prevent unwanted chemical reactions from forming, causing damage to your water lines and plumbing system.

Third, inspect your van water lines before purchasing an RV antifreeze product. By doing so, you can choose the appropriate antifreeze ingredient that will best fit your plumbing system.

Lastly, as a general rule, despite most RV antifreeze being non-toxic, you should always use it with caution and away from children’s reach.


Summing up everything with all the ingredients and safety information that comes with each RV antifreeze available in the market, you can now make the right decision on what to use. Using it right and choosing the best product that will fit your needs and budget is the primary key in getting a safe trip amidst the winter times.

So, if you are an RVer and would love to use this liquid solution, make sure to take extra care because ingredients like ethanol are flammable, toxic to plants & humans. You can reuse or recycle if it is still possible, then dump it properly. Remember that disposing of RV antifreeze properly is our responsibility to keep the environment the best it can be. This way you and your family can enjoy the van life and at the same time keep yourselves and others safe. 

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