Can I Use Antifreeze In My RV Holding Tanks?



The importance of antifreeze in your car is well known, especially when you are winterizing your RV. You can use the antifreeze while camping in colder climates when the outside temperatures drop below freezing, keeping any residual water in your lines and tanks from freezing. During the winter, it will prevent any residual water from freezing in your tanks and lines. There are, however, certain risks to consider when using antifreeze in an RV, even when using antifreeze products designed specifically for RVs. Throughout this article, we explain the definition and types of antifreeze, the safety of each type, and when to use antifreeze.

Antifreeze – what is it?

Antifreeze slows the expansion of water by lowering its freezing point in subfreezing temperatures. All forms of antifreeze extend water’s freezing point because they contain alcohol. Typically, antifreeze consists of three different chemical components:

  1. Ethanol
  2. Propylene Glycol
  3. Ethylene Glycol

1. Ethanol:

RVs can use this type of antifreeze, but because of the amount of ethanol it contains, it is not a good choice for Unique products since the ethanol will kill the bacteria that break down waste. Before using this type of antifreeze, make sure your rubber seals have not dried out too quickly due to normal wear and tear; ethanol antifreeze should be just fine for seals in good condition, but if you start using it regularly, weathered and brittle seals may be pushed over the edge of effectiveness.

2. Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol antifreeze is the safest option for campers, humans, and the planet. In general, RV antifreeze refers to antifreeze containing propylene glycol. Unique recommends using this type of RV antifreeze because the level of propylene glycol is not enough to kill bacteria. Antifreeze contains low levels of propylene glycol, which means that bacteria will consume it at some point. Antifreeze should be added to wastewater tanks at regular intervals to prevent freezing. 

3. Ethylene Glycol

RVs should not be filled with ethylene glycol, which is a very toxic component. Automobile antifreeze contains this chemical, which should not be used in the recreational vehicle holding tanks. You should use extreme caution whenever using this product, as it is highly toxic if ingested, inhaled, or spilt on the skin.

RV antifreeze (ethanol and propylene glycol) and automotive antifreeze (ethylene glycol) are very different and should not be mixed. Unlike antifreeze used in plastic holding tanks, automotive antifreeze is toxic and designed for powerful engines. An RV antifreeze is designed to make RV holding tanks less susceptible to damage. Propylene glycol actually lubricates seals, unlike ethanol-based RV antifreeze, which can dry out rubber seals.

More to explorer

Which RVs should be winter-ready?

RVs can withstand freezing temperatures with the following features.  If you plan to camp in cold weather, look for these RV features. 

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