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Choosing RV Antifreeze

December 22, 2015
RV Antifreeze

Did you know there a number of choices to be made when buying your RV antifreeze?  The first choice is temperature rating and the second and more important is the main antifreeze ingredient.  When choosing the temperature rating, the standard -50 degree antifreeze is good for most locations.  When was the last time you had a sustained night time low below -50?  Unless you live in Alaska or the Canadian Territories it is very unlikely.  If however you need lower, there is -100 antifreeze as well.  Most RV antifreeze do not stay liquid when below freezing.  If you were to look, it should look like a pink Slushie when below freezing.

The second factor is the chemical composition of RV antifreeze.  There are two possible primary ingredients, and they affect the price dramatically.  One is Ethanol, it is cheaper and is the one that you can find at Walmart on sale for 99 cents a gallon.  Even though both types are usually pink, it is very easy to tell the difference as Ethanol based RV antifreeze is flammable so it has a flammable symbol on the bottle.  Because of this the MSDS states that it is more dangerous to handle and can be dangerous to ingest.

Being alcohol based it will dry out the seals in your pump and toilet bowl, and the most noticeable reason the RV community dislikes it is that it leaves a bad taste behind in the fresh water pipes.

The other type of RV antifreeze is Propylene Glycol based.  Glycol based antifreeze is safe on your lawn, septic tank, and storm sewers. As it is a mineral oil it also will lubricate the seals as opposed to dry them out.  But the most amusing fact about it is that there is nothing that suggests it is harmful to ingest.  I wanted to back this fact up so I checked the MSDS and the only reference to health effects is it may cause diarrhea if ingested in large quantities.  Many studies on rodents have shown no long term effect on them as well.

I also spoke to my local RV dealer about it and they told me that they once did a taste test of all the Glycol based Antifreeze and Camco was the best tasting and I can confirm the Camco RV anti freeze does have a slightly fruity taste.  The most important fact for most people is that Glycol based antifreeze does not leave the “antifreeze” taste in your pipes.  This comes at a cost.  Glycol based antifreeze can be up to 4x more money than Ethanol and you usually only find it at RV dealers, not at Walmart or Home Depot.

So if you are looking for a solution that will not leave a bad taste in you pipes but are concerned if simply blowing out the pipes is enough, than glycol may be the solution.  An option for cutting down the amount of glycol needed, is you could use both types, glycol for the fresh water lines and ethanol for the P traps.


From → RV Tech

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