RV Antifreeze: 22 Critical Questions Answered

What Is RV Antifreeze And Its Benefits

Published Date: March 1, 2021

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Camper Front

Frozen pipes are one of the biggest issues for campers when winter approaches. So if you’re like most part-time RVers who put their RV into storage during these frigid months, you might want to winterize it first with a quality RV antifreeze.

Perhaps those who were ignorant of this advice, have learned it the hard way.

And I get it! You have a lot of questions on your mind.

Well, unlike the vague answers you are likely to see on the internet, below we’ve comprehensively answered 22 critical questions about RV Antifreeze to help you understand and prepare your RV for winter storage. So fasten your seat belt!

What Is RV Antifreeze And Its Benefits?

RV antifreeze is a freeze-burst-protection lubricant that shields the pipes and waterlines of your motorhome from freezing in even the most severe winter weather.

And since the RV plumbing system is vulnerable to freezing, all poorly insulated or exposed pipes are in big trouble.

Because once the freezing temperature lays its icy hand on the pipes, water will have a hard time flowing through — which then creates a substantial amount of pressure that leads to cracks or bursts.

The RV water heater tank, plumbing lines, and fittings can freeze, expand and rupture.

The aftermath of this frigid temperature always leads to expensive cost repairs, which is why the RV must be properly winterized with RV antifreeze products.

They will help prolong the toilet seal life and prevent sticking – promoting a smooth toilet operation without tainting the water.

Frequently Asked Questions About RV Antifreeze

How long is RV antifreeze good for

1. How long is RV antifreeze good for?

Wondering how long will RV antifreeze last? Well, you should know it takes up to 5years without turning bad – provided it is well-sealed and stored properly.

Therefore, you can reuse any leftovers.

Although after winter, you would want to de-winterize the entire water system in preparation for your spring vacation.

Because once you’re camping, you would want to rely on a clean source of water for drinking, cooking, washing dishes, and showering.

2. Will RV antifreeze evaporate?

Yes! It does evaporate but very slowly.

However, antifreeze can only evaporate in two conditions: if the temperature rises above 223 degrees Fahrenheit, and is mixed with water in a 50/50 ratio.

Ensure you always (without fail) adhere to the manufacturer’s mix ratio of water and antifreeze, to prevent early weather damage.

3. Will RV antifreeze kill grass?

If you are highly concerned with the antifreeze’s toxicity level and whether it would affect the greenery around you if dumped on, well, it depends.

Not all RV antifreeze has what it takes to affect the ecosystem of surrounding plant life.

The toxicity level and whether or not it can kill grass depends solely on the product’s composition — the principal ingredients.

Let’s dig into some of the frequently used RV antifreeze types and their toxicity below:


First and foremost, Ethanol is categorized as alcohol, and since plants are delicate, it tends to cause a reduction in nutrient value – which hampers plant growth and extinct grass.

While its effectiveness in the RV’s plumbing system cannot be denied, you should also know the concoction is harmful to humans and requires utmost care when handling.

Ethanol and ethylene glycol blend

This type of antifreeze is mostly suitable for automobiles, and not recommended for RV or camper winterization because the mixture transforms into oxalic acid and becomes heavily poisonous after oxidation.

Furthermore, it can easily dry out the rubber seals of the toilets or faucets and create leakage.

As for plants, dispersing this antifreeze across a garden area or backyard is dangerous, as it is poisonous enough to terminate them.

Propylene blend with ethanol

Unlike Ethanol and ethylene glycol blends, this solution works perfectly well for both automobiles and recreational vehicles.

And its properties DO NOT offer similar drawbacks to green life but remain toxic due to the presence of alcohol-based ethanol.

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol antifreeze appears to be the least toxic among other options.

The formula is highly preferable by avid gardeners and for RVers who have special concerns for plant life.

But that doesn’t make it the best RV antifreeze there is, nor the compassionate friend of the greens.

4. Is RV antifreeze toxic to plants?

No doubt Propylene Glycol-based is the safest among RV antifreeze. if you are looking for antifreeze to use in pools, freshwater, or drinking water, in addition to your RV, then this food-grade antifreeze is an ideal product for your needs.

But certain scientific experiments prove that propylene glycol vapor is toxic to corn and soya beans. The vaporous gas results in chlorosis, which kills the leaves’ green color and causes cellular death.

Bottom line: propylene glycol antifreeze will not instantly kill the surrounding plants, like most will. But it enhances their pollen sterility and makes the grass experience an agonizing growth throughout its life.

5. is RV antifreeze toxic to animals?

Again, it depends on the kind of antifreeze.

If it comprises ethylene glycol, then you should know it’s highly venomous for animals.

Funnily enough, the scent and taste are sweet and could lure curious pets to drink them.

This yummy plumbing juice can cause kidney failure in a matter of days. So you should clean up any spills on surrounding surfaces to avoid a story that touches the heart.

Fortunately, there is a preferable alternative that is non-toxic or at least less toxic to pets and wildlife: Propylene glycol-based.

Propylene glycol-based is a pet-friendly antifreeze and is now available at local stores.

6. Is RV antifreeze safe to drink?

RV antifreeze is definitely not for your bloodstream. Hence, Propylene glycol-based is safe to swallow (only a little) as long as the label on the container or bottles states it – but don’t!

There is no 100% guarantee that it won’t bring harm.

That’s why you’re most likely to see language like “nothing suggests”, which means from what’s known so far, it is not harmful, but could be.

The flammable symbol is another tell-tale sign to know whether or not it is drinkable. As soon as you see a class 3 flammability hazard ID, you know that the product cannot be ingested.

7. Is RV antifreeze flammable?

Yes, but not all!

If you’re looking for a non-flammable RV antifreeze, Propylene glycol is your best option. It is every camper’s choice because it is environmentally safe for all types of RV plumbing systems, due to its biodegradable components.

It does not have any fire safety warnings, nor the risk of tainting your RV plumbing system.

However, the reason we do not recommend the Ethanol and Propylene/Ethanol-based is due to their flammability and tendency to harm certain RV plumbing systems. And since they are flammable; they can hurt you.

Moreover, this type of anti-freeze can lead to bad-smelling and tasting water when flushed.

8. Is RV antifreeze environmentally friendly?

Since RV antifreeze is biodegradable, it is environmentally friendly. For this reason, it is not a big deal for most users to pour their used RV antifreeze down the drain.

However, propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and PG are fairly non-toxic in an aquatic environment. So keep that in mind.

9. Will RV antifreeze hurt a septic system?

Not all RV antifreeze products are toxic to dump in your septic system or sewer system.

Propylene glycol or ethanol are both non-toxic and won’t cause any damage. But I wouldn’t go dropping a whole bunch of antifreeze in there for the fun of it. You should use the appropriate quantities.

10. How many gallons of RV antifreeze do I need?

The size of your RV will determine the amount of antifreeze needed for winterizing, and so will the number of pipes.

Although the average amount of antifreeze needed should be up to 3 gallons.

11. Does RV antifreeze kill bacteria?

If the RV antifreeze is Ethanol-based, it has the properties to kill most bacteria and sanitize the waterline.

Propylene glycol, on other hand, has little or no antibacterial action.

12.  Will antifreeze kill rats?

Most Antifreeze contains an active ingredient that lures rodents into drinking it, due to its sweet aroma and taste.

Yet the tasty juice is lethal enough to rats, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, and many others within 24 to 72 hours if ingested.

13. Is pink RV antifreeze poisonous?

In general, pink RV antifreeze are NOT TOXIC. Considering they are ideal for plumbing systems intended for consumption, you are only allowed to use the safest among them: Propylene Glycol.

They are made from 100-percent biodegradable, non-toxic, GRAS, and non-hazardous materials.

14. Is RV antifreeze poisonous to dogs?

You should be anxious even if your dog has consumed a relatively small amount of pink RV antifreeze doses without receiving an antidote.

It may survive initially but will develop kidney failure within a few days of ingestion – probably two-three days.

And for the records, kidney damage as a result of ingesting RV antifreeze has been one of the leading causes of residential dog death.

How can you tell if your dog has been poisoned by an antifreeze?

The dog starts drinking an unusual quantity of water, urinating frequently, or vomiting.

But the typical signs of kidney failure in dogs include vomiting, depression, and sharply decreased amounts of urine.

Hence if you notice your dog consuming RV antifreeze or displaying any of the following symptoms, ensure you contact the nearest vet immediately. It is critical to begin treatment for antifreeze poisoning promptly if you want to save your pet’s life.

15. Can I dump RV antifreeze on the ground?

It is not always advisable to dump RV antifreeze on the ground – be it propylene glycol or any of the pink products.

Since they all contain chemical materials, disposing of them on the earth’s crust can contaminate the soil nutrients, groundwater, melt permafrost that can make building foundations weak, and many more.

Usually, the government provides strict guidelines on how you can safely get rid of any RV antifreeze. So ensure you adhere to them, as you could be legal detained for improper disposal of any Antifreeze.

16. What is the freezing point of RV antifreeze?

RV antifreeze is available in minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit and minus 100 degrees F freeze burst protection.

However, the antifreeze at minus 50 degrees F has a freeze point of +12 degrees F. This implies at maximum power, it will start to freeze or get slushy at +12 degrees F, but the freeze burst point is minus 50 degrees F.

17. Can RV antifreeze kill you?

First and foremost, will RV antifreeze hurt you?

For those who still have their heads in the clouds, RV antifreeze does not only tend to hurt you but also kill you if taken in large quantities.

That is why it is only for use in wastewater or hot water heating systems. And MUST be flushed properly after its purpose.

Antifreeze has a devastating health impact, one that can slowly cripple your body system and alter your mental state.

Prolonged exposure (accidentally or on purpose) of either methanol or ethylene glycol toxicity breaks down into various metabolites that can be quite injurious to your body.

In most cases, the production of these metabolites can cause severe damage to your kidney, as well as your eyes – and could escalate, leading to a slow and horrible death.

18. Is RV antifreeze corrosive?

In general, the main purpose of RV antifreeze is to keep the water system pipes in peak condition during the freezing months without damaging internal components.

And this includes protecting the steel piping from eroding, which is why it exhibits a corrosive inhibitor called phosphate that decreases the corrosion rate of the pipes.

Although phosphate wasn’t designed for long-term protection since you’d have to flush out the RV antifreeze seasonally.

If you ask me, there is still a 22% chance of experiencing corrosion. Considering it is mixed with water, then pumped into the pipes (where there can be oxygen), corrosion is possible.

19.  Is it OK to put antifreeze down the drain?

Most campers think since Propylene Glycol RV Antifreeze is non-toxic, they can safely dump it down the drain. But that’s not the case.

Since antifreeze contains glycol, which is toxic to humans and animals in certain doses, it should not be put in a septic system, toilet, or flushed down the drain – especially If you’re connected to a municipal sewage plant.

20. Is RV antifreeze heavier than water?

With a melting point of -72.4 degrees F, a boiling point of about 370.8 degrees F, and a specific gravity of 1.036, it is proper to say that antifreeze is slightly heavier than water. Moreover, it will seek the lowest level in the pipe.

And because they are heavier, they tend to evaporate slower than water.

21. Does Tractor Supply carry RV antifreeze?

Should you get your RV antifreeze from Tractor Supply?

Most people are rather skeptical when they thought about buying an RV antifreeze from their favorite Tractor supply.

They thought the company only provided products for agriculture, home improvement, lawn and garden maintenance, livestock, equine, and pet care.

Well, Tractor Supply also sells RV and multi-purpose antifreeze that is excellent for winterizing all types of potable water plumbing systems including those in boats, recreational vehicles, vacation homes, heating systems, as well as swimming pool filtration.

22. Is RV antifreeze the same as pool antifreeze?

During the winter months, both swimming pools and RVs need to have their water lines winterized. And this requires the use of a propylene glycol-based antifreeze because it is non-toxic.

Since both are made from propylene glycol and serve the same purpose (to prevent pipes from freezing), you can use them interchangeably.

Matter of fact, many brands of swimming pool antifreeze advertise that their product can also be used to winterize an RV, cabins, mobile homes, boats, swimming pools, as well as septic systems.

The only major difference between these products is the colors. The swimming pool antifreeze is usually blue, while the RV antifreeze is pink.

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Conclusion: Types Of RV Antifreeze

You don’t want to be like those part-time campers who take their motorhome for a vacation after winter, only to discover multiple cracks and bursts on the pipes here and there.

For this reason, if you live in a cold climate, you may want to keep your RV in storage for the winter. A high-quality RV antifreeze will help preserve your RV’s pipes and plumbing system.

I hope these questions answered, has indicated clearly the does and don’ts of RV antifreeze and how crucial it is. Because without winterization, you run the risk of damaging your RV, which would result in an expensive and time-consuming fix.

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