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Can RV Antifreeze Kill You?

RV antifreeze is a liquid you can use to protect your RV plumbing system from pipes bursting during freezing temperatures. Usually, it’s pink, like the color of pink lemonade. But after it has been in all your pipes, what if you accidentally drink some of it? Is It poisonous? Would it kill you if you drank too much? What about your kids or pets?

We’ve all had these concerns, so let’s do some explaining.

motm rv comic pink lemonade antifreeze

Can RV Antifreeze Kill You?

No, RV antifreeze will not kill you. Unlike antifreeze used in vehicle engines, RV antifreeze is non-toxic and designed to be safe for use in systems that handle water meant for human consumption.

It’s important to know that RV antifreeze is different from regular vehicle antifreeze, and you must use the correct one for your safety and that of your camper.

RV Antifreeze:

  • Propylene Glycol-Based
  • Non-toxic and biodegradable.
  • Propylene glycol not only prevents freezing but also protects the plumbing system against corrosion and algae growth.
  • It’s generally recognized as safe for use in systems that might provide drinking water.

Vehicle Antifreeze:

  • Ethanol-Based Antifreeze
  • NOT safe for human consumption
  • Less expensive than propylene glycol – don’t be fooled by the cheaper price!
  • Can be more corrosive to rubber seals and gaskets and may have a more significant environmental impact.
rv antifreeze in camper sink
Ethanol-based vehicle antifreeze is not safe for human consumption. Do not use this to winterize your RV.

What Happens If You Don’t Get All the Antifreeze Out of Your RV Plumbing?

It’s a valid concern, especially if you drink the water out of your RV’s plumbing system.

If you do not remove all of the antifreeze from your RV plumbing, you may notice a slight pinkish hue in your water and a difference in taste.

While we don’t suggest drinking any amount of RV antifreeze, it will not harm you if you get a little in your water. However, pets and plants may be more affected by ingesting antifreeze, and poisoning can occur if they drink large quantities.

So, you should avoid watering your pets or animals with water from your RV until the antifreeze clears out of your plumbing system.

How Does RV Antifreeze Work?

Propylene glycol antifreeze works in RVs by lowering the freezing point of water in the plumbing system. This prevents the water from freezing, expanding, and damaging the pipes and fixtures.

Propylene glycol also provides additional benefits such as corrosion inhibition and lubrication to the water pump and seals.

Pro Tip: Frozen pipes are inconvenient and expensive to repair. Antifreeze can prevent major damage. Here is How to Use RV Antifreeze When Winterizing Your Rig.

Can You Winterize Without Using RV Antifreeze? 

Even if RV antifreeze doesn’t kill, many RVers still don’t like using it for winterization. Fortunately, we can winterize most RVs without antifreeze!

Instead, we can use an air compressor. You can easily find a blow plug that will allow you to connect your air compressor to your RV’s plumbing system. 

Be sure to use a pressure regulator to avoid damaging your plumbing system. As you pump air into the plumbing system, open each water faucet and shower head, and flush each toilet until all the water in the line clears out.

Learn the full process here: How To Winterize Your RV With An Air Compressor

Winterize Your RV Without AntiFreeze

Pro Tip: Check out our 7 Tips to Keep Your RV Pipes From Freezing

How to De-Winterize Your RV Properly

Let’s walk through the steps to flush all of our RV’s water system.

  1. First, connect to the water and fill your fresh water tank
  2. Turn on the water pump
  3. Turn on your water heater to fill it up as well
  4. Allow water to run through each faucet, toilet, and shower head for several minutes
  5. You’ll notice the pink color begins to fade away as water passes through the system.
  6. Let the water run for a minute or two after the pink color goes away.
  7. Once you’ve completed flushing your system, you should dump your gray and black tanks at an approved dumpstation.

Pro Tip: There is more to De-winterizing than flushing the antifreeze. Find out How to De-Winterize Your RV & Get Ready for Spring Camping Season!

Can You Dump RV Antifreeze on the Ground?

No, you should never dump RV antifreeze on the ground. While it’s not harmful to humans, it can be damaging to vegetation and animals. You don’t want to be responsible for destroying plants or being the cause for a pet or wild animal becoming ill.

Your RV antifreeze can go down the drain, but be sure to contact a local agency for properly disposing of any leftover RV antifreeze.

Don’t Drink Your RV Antifreeze

Even though the stuff won’t kill you, you still don’t want to drink any of your RV antifreeze intentionally or accidentally. Be sure to thoroughly flush your water system before using your tanks, faucets, and shower.

But if a little is left in your system or splashes in your mouth, you’ll be okay.

Have you ever tasted RV antifreeze? Drop a comment below.

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Thursday 2nd of September 2021

RV antifreeze is pink, not blue. Your pictures that accompany your article are of windshield wiper antifreeze, which is not non-toxic and should never be used in your RV freshwater system. This could be dangerously misleading to new RVers.

Not So Free

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

That's probably what happens when you pull a "stock" photo from somewhere.