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What Is The Purpose Of RV Antifreeze?

RV antifreeze
When the leaves turn yellow its time to start thinking about the pink stuff

What Is The Purpose Of RV Antifreeze?

Every fall when the weather cools, you start hearing RVers talk about antifreeze. If you are new to RVing you may find yourself asking, what is the purpose of RV antifreeze, and do I need some?

RV antifreeze vs Automotive antifreeze

Let’s start by reviewing the difference between RV antifreeze and automotive antifreeze. RV antifreeze is non-toxic and used to protect the plumbing systems in your RV from freezing.

Automotive antifreeze is extremely toxic and used to protect the cooling system in engines, like the one that powers your tow vehicle or motorhome, from freezing. Never use automotive antifreeze in the freshwater plumbing system of an RV.

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What does antifreeze do? 

  • By itself or when added in significant quantities to water, it prevents expansion from occurring in sub-freezing temperatures by lowering the freezing point.
  • Some types of antifreeze act as a lubricant to protect seals inside faucets and the toilet.

What are the typical uses for RV antifreeze?

  • Protect freshwater pipes, fittings, and fixtures from expanding to the point of damage or bursting.
  • When poured into the P-traps of your RV sinks and shower, it will prevent them from freezing solid and potential damage.
  • When added to your gray and black tanks, it will prevent them from freezing solid when camping in subfreezing weather, allowing you to dump them at the end of your trip.
RV antifreeze
Protecting P-Traps and the Gray Tank From Freezing

What types of RV antifreeze are there?

  • Ethanol-based
  • Propylene glycol-based
  • Ethanol/propylene blend

What type of antifreeze is best for my RV?

RV LIFE writer Russ DeMaris shares this:

“So when asking what kind of antifreeze they use to winterize their rig’s plumbing system, many RVers respond, “Oh, I use the pink stuff.” Huh? Just what is the “pink stuff?” There really is a difference in RV antifreeze formulas, and it can make a big difference on how things turn out.”  

Click here to read more from Russ.

How do I know if my RV antifreeze is good?

If you have a bottle of antifreeze of unknown age or you are among one of the RVers that capture drained antifreeze for reuse, how do you know if it still offers freeze protection?

Pour some of the antifreeze into a small paper cup and place it in your freezer.

Check out this short video on testing the strength of antifreeze:

Is RV antifreeze safe to drink, what about taste?

While antifreeze is considered safe, non-toxic, and non-hazardous to humans, it is not intended for consumption nor does it taste good. Be certain to flush your RV’s freshwater system thoroughly after using RV antifreeze to avoid lingering odors and taste.

For more tips on winterizing your RV, check out these great resources: