Last updated on June 5th, 2023 at 12:03 pm
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Whether you have a class A, B, C, or a towable rig, RV antifreeze can be a necessity if you want your plumbing to survive through winter.
What if this is the first time you’re hearing about RV antifreeze? Why is it important and what is it used for? And what’s the best one for you and your new rig?
Let’s take a look at all things antifreeze and get your questions answered! But if you just want to skip ahead and see which antifreeze I think is the best, you can check it out here:
- Made from FDA-approved non-toxic ingredients
- Safe to use with steel, plastic, copper, and brass
- -50ºF Burst protection for extra cold winters
- Great lubrication for seals and gaskets
- Safe as rated food-grade
- High quality
What Is RV Antifreeze Used For?
If you’re new to RVing or automotives in general, you may not be clear on what antifreeze is good for. One may argue that antifreeze is even more important in your RV than in your car.
RV antifreeze is used in conjunction with your RV’s plumbing system and gets its spotlight moment when it comes time to store your RV for winter. This is also known as winterization and is a very common task for RV owners to consider.
Winterizing your RV is important if you plan on storing your RV during the cold winter months, and it’s a necessity if you live somewhere especially cold. RV antifreeze is necessary for those of you in freezing climates, as it raises the temperature of water high enough to prevent freezing!
Pouring antifreeze into your RV’s drains and plumbing system will assist with any water you may have remaining in your pipes come winter. Antifreeze is essential as it will keep the water from freezing inside your RV’s pipes which could lead to them eventually expanding and bursting.
You can also pour antifreeze into your black and gray water tanks. Doing so will keep your wastewater from freezing inside your tanks resulting in an easy clean come springtime and no damage to your tanks from water expansion!
Improper winterization is often the number one cause of RV damage, so if you plan to store your RV or motorhome at any point, make sure to prep it for sub-zero temperatures.
RV Antifreeze For Classes A, B, And C Versus Travel Trailers
Since you now understand the differences between automotive and RV antifreeze, you can probably make an educated guess and say that there isn’t a difference between motorhome antifreeze and travel-trailer or fifth-wheel antifreeze. This is correct! However, don’t Class A, B, and C rigs need antifreeze for their engines?
The answer to your question is yes, you will need two different types of antifreeze if you own a motorhome or recreational vehicle with an engine. However, it should be an easy distinction to make between the two. And again, make sure you don’t put RV antifreeze into your engine or automotive antifreeze into your RV’s plumbing system!
Some antifreeze is made specifically for diesel engines as opposed to conventional gas setups. Understanding your motorhome and its needs is important, and something that should be fairly easy to figure out. So long as you keep the pink stuff (plumbing antifreeze) away from your engine, you should be just fine!
Types Of RV Antifreeze
While choosing an RV-specific antifreeze may seem silly, it is necessary for the life of your rig, especially if you plan to store it. Here are the most common types of antifreeze available for RVers, and what the differences are between them.
Perhaps you’ve heard of ethanol in other contexts. Surprise, it’s also used in antifreeze! The most affordable and readily available type of RV antifreeze out there is ethanol based.
Ethanol is, you guessed it, alcohol, and if you’ve ever had hard liquor around, you know it doesn’t freeze solid if you keep it in the freezer. So you may have already inferred that ethanol, hard liquor’s big brother, can keep your water lines from freezing come winter! However, this level of alcohol present makes ethanol-based antifreeze extremely flammable.
However, is ethanol-based antifreeze safe to consume? This type of antifreeze is not recommended for consumption, and honestly not recommended much in general. Despite being the number one base for RV antifreeze, ethanol has a lot of drawbacks.
The main issue with ethanol antifreeze is its toxicity. Your water lines will need to fully purge this product come springtime, and many RV owners report their water tasting funny after the ethanol antifreeze has, in theory, left the water lines.
Ethanol antifreeze also dries out most rubber seals and other rubber gaskets you may have in your RV, which means you may find yourself replacing these do-dads every few years. An unfortunate cost and an unnecessary maintenance task, even though you may be saving a few bucks on a bottle of ethanol-based antifreeze!
Propylene Glycol Antifreeze
So what type of RV antifreeze isn’t hazardous or poisonous? Let’s take a look at everyone’s preferred ingredient for RV antifreeze: propylene glycol!
What is so good about propylene glycol-based RV antifreeze? Well, the easiest difference you’ll notice is that this antifreeze is not toxic! If you’re looking for a product that won’t ruin your water quality come spring, and a product that’s overall better for your plumbing system, check out propylene glycol!
This handy antifreeze base is better than ethanol in almost every way, including what it can do for your plumbing gaskets and seals. Propylene glycol is a lubricant, extending the overall life and longevity of your rubber seals and gaskets.
Propylene glycol is also not nearly as flammable as ethanol; having a product that is non-toxic and also not flammable makes for a much less scary bottle on the shelf of your garage! This product is safe to travel through all of your freshwater lines and tanks without fear of an unfortunate taste come spring. It’s even FDA-approved to be used in food, and this gives me ultimate peace of mind.
So what’s the catch, you may be asking? The only main drawback to propylene glycol-based antifreeze is the cost. It averages an extra few dollars per jug of it, but with the number of perks propylene glycol has, it’s a no-brainer to me. However, you may have your own reasoning behind choosing an ideal antifreeze for your rig!
As we’ve already mentioned, there are many benefits to non-toxic RV antifreeze. One of the main benefits is simply that you won’t have to worry about this product lingering in the pipes of your RV. Even if it does, non-toxic RV antifreeze won’t hurt you should you happen to drink some of it.
Another key benefit to non-toxic RV antifreeze is that it assists your overall plumbing system, primarily the rubber seals around your toilet and other fixtures. And of course RV antifreeze is almost a necessity should you be planning to store your RV somewhere that reaches below-freezing temperatures.
Ethanol And Propylene Glycol Blend Antifreeze
The best of both worlds, a blend of ethanol and propylene antifreeze! However, is it still non-toxic? Check the labels on each and every product you procure, just to be safe. Most blended RV antifreeze should remain non-toxic, though some blends may use more ethanol than propylene glycol.
This in-between product is great for the budget and great that it is in theory non-toxic. However, some sources disagree and believe this antifreeze to still be toxic, given the presence of ethanol. Again, always read product labels, and if in doubt, stick with a propylene glycol antifreeze only.
An ethanol propylene glycol blend may be cheaper and possibly non-toxic, but it still carries with it the drawbacks of ethanol. This product is known to make your RV’s water taste different come springtime, as well as ethanol dries out any and all rubber present in your RV’s plumbing system.
While you may save a few bucks and get a (probably) non-toxic antifreeze, the overall response to this blended product is unfavorable. However, you may find that it suits your needs just fine!
8 Best Antifreeze For Your RV
Planning to store your rig and know that antifreeze is going to be a necessity for you this winter? Check out the top products we’ve found for you and your rig!
Best Overall: RecPro RV Antifreeze
- Made from FDA-approved non-toxic ingredients
- Safe to use with steel, plastic, copper, and brass
- -50ºF Burst protection for extra cold winters
- Great lubrication for seals and gaskets
RecPro RV Antifreeze is a popular choice among RVers, and with so many stand-out features, it’s clear to see why. I always prioritize safety when it comes to my RV, and although I’d love to be able to winterize my RV without using Antifreeze, it’s arguably the easiest option! RecPro has created an easy-to-use RV antifreeze that’s made with FDA- approved, non-toxic ingredients, putting my mind at rest that it’s safe for my plumbing system.
The non-hazardous formula doesn’t make the antifreeze perform any less during winter temperatures, which is ideal if you’re like me and experience very cold winters! I like that it’s suitable for temperatures as low as -50ºF as I can simply run it through my system before temperatures drop below freezing, and let it work its magic until days start to get warmer again come spring.
RV maintenance can take time, but preparation really is key when winter is looming. Along with providing great protection against cold temperatures, this RecPro antifreeze also lubricates seals and gaskets, keeping them working smoothly without harming steel, plastic, copper, or brass materials.
The only thing that bothers me a bit with this antifreeze is the size of the containers! Available in either a 2-pack or 4-pack, I need a decent amount of space in my rig to store these jugs. I always say, where there’s a will, there’s a way, so hopefully with a quick shuffle around, these jugs can fit well in even a small camper!
Best Completely Non-Toxic Option: SMPLY. Propylene Glycol
- Safe as rated food-grade
- High quality
Non-toxic antifreeze is a win-win in my eyes, as it means I don’t have to panic about my young nieces and nephews being around, and also the fluffy pup I travel with! Although I wouldn’t recommend having a glass of this SMPLY Propylene Glycol with cookies, it is food-grade and 99% pure, making it the safest option.
Even after de-winterizing my rig, there can be trace amounts of antifreeze left in the RV plumbing pipes. I want any residue to be safe as I always drink water, and don’t want to be putting anything toxic in my or my partner’s bodies. It’s difficult to find products nowadays that aren’t crammed full of different chemicals, causing potential harm, and maybe that’s why I’m drawn to this SMPLY antifreeze so much.
This antifreeze is pure and high quality, which unfortunately does come with a higher price tag than other brands. It is, however, one of the few products on this list I can honestly say is as safe as can get. It gives me the peace of mind I need when spring comes, that my RV’s water system can operate safely, and for me, the higher price tag is worth it!
A 50/50 blend of the antifreeze mixed with water should protect the plumbing system to around -20 degrees Fahrenheit, which is plenty for the winter climate my rig is exposed to.
Most Affordable: SPLASH 619526 RV/Marine Antifreeze, 6 gal
- Can protect plumbing beyond -50ºF
- Clear instructions
- Blend of propylene glycol and glycerine
The best bang for your buck in my eyes has got to be the SPLASH brand of RV antifreeze. A propylene glycol and glycerine blend, this gallon of antifreeze is one of the most affordable options on the market and it also works great, something we all need when temperatures begin to drop!
If an RV antifreeze can protect a plumbing system to more than -50ºF, I am instantly impressed, as this is better than many other types of antifreeze on the market and perfect for those storing their rigs over winter in VERY cold temperatures.
There are some things to keep in mind with this product, both good and bad. This particular brand is a bit more eco-friendly and environmentally safe than others. Compared to the last antifreeze I mentioned, however, it doesn’t quite hit the spot for me in terms of ultimate safety. This SPLASH antifreeze is not safe to be near children or pets, so I find it wise to keep it high up in a garage, away from the sight and reach of little ones.
I like that this brand has specific cold weather instructions as follows from the manufacturer: “SPLASH RV & Marine Antifreeze is designed to provide burst protection to temperatures of -50°F, -75°F or -100°F. The -50°F and -75°F solution will freeze between +20°F and +16°F. The -100°F solution will freeze at approximately -20°F. Frozen or slushy antifreeze still provides burst protection.”
I always prefer to have clear instructions when I’m working, so it’s useful that SPLASH has included detailed expectations of what this antifreeze can handle and how it should work. It’s a bit surprising some RVers can experience their bottles freezing during storage, so if you live in a harsh winter climate, I would recommend keeping bottles of antifreeze in a secure place that doesn’t get too cold.
Most Convenient Option: Century Chemical TF-1 Heat Transfer Fluid Ready-To-Use Formula
- Easy to use as already mixed
- No fire hazard
- Contains corrosion inhibitors to prevent harm coming to plumbing
RVing for me is all about slowing down and matching the pace of nature, whilst having everything I need at my fingertips while I boondock or go off-grid. That’s why I’ve added this Century Chemical TF-1 Heat Transfer Fluid to our list. This antifreeze is non-toxic, great news for me as I prefer to limit harsh chemicals wherever possible, but it’s also ultra-convenient as it’s already pre-mixed!
I’m always cautious of rust and corrosion with my rig, after all, once one bit of rust sets in, it can be a downward spiral from there! I enjoy the addition of corrosion inhibitors with this antifreeze, as it means my plumbing system is safe and won’t get damaged or potentially corroded through use, as we all know the trouble too much moisture can bring to pipes.
If you have a few bottles of different branded antifreeze laying around, I wouldn’t recommend mixing them with this antifreeze. Some RVers have reported blending other types of antifreeze with this one doesn’t create the best mixture, so I would advise using this product alone.
Best Eco-Friendly Option: BioTHERM Fluids RV Antifreeze and Heat Transfer Fluid
- Non-toxic and readily biodegradable
- Ethylene glycol free
- Contains food-grade inhibitor to prevent corrosion
- Protects RV plumbing down to -50°F
As I’ve mentioned before, safety is paramount for me, and so I want anything I use in my RV to be safe for me, my loved ones, and where possible, the environment too. This BioTHERM Fluids RV Antifreeze and Heat Transfer Fluid does just that, as it is made from a glycerin base, and is free from ethylene glycol, non-toxic, and even biodegradable.
Even though this antifreeze is non-toxic, it’s still vital to dispose of it safely and correctly to avoid harm to the surrounding environment. Just like the last antifreeze I mentioned, this BioTHERM formula is pre-mixed, so I don’t have to worry about measuring and mixing a solution – the hard work is already done for me!
A bonus with this particular antifreeze for me is the addition of a multi-metal food-grade inhibitor, that helps avoid any corrosion developing through my RV plumbing. It’s, therefore, suitable to be used with a wide range of materials such as copper, brass, steel cast-iron, and even cast aluminum.
I like knowing the antifreeze I pump through my system had been regulated and tested, so this antifreeze meeting ASTM D1384 standards is a game-changer as I know it has been created with the needs and safety of RVers in mind.
It isn’t the cheapest RV antifreeze available on the market, however, it’s a high-quality option, promising to protect rigs in winter down to -50°F. For RVers facing harsh winter conditions with temperatures dropping colder than -50°F, it may be wise to opt for a different antifreeze able to protect your system, keeping it in tip-top shape for the next camping season.
Best Air Compressor: AUTDER Tire Inflator Air Compressor, Portable Car Air Pump with Digital Pressure Gauge
- Easy way to pump antifreeze
- Three different power options
- Great safety features such as lights and full tire detection
Recently, I heard the quote ‘Work smarter, not harder’ and it’s honestly changed the way I look at life on the road. Opting for easier methods and ways of doing things isn’t lazy, or something to feel bad about, as it can open up time to be spent on other more important things. Therefore, I’ve included this AUTDER Tire Inflator Air Compressor to this list, as it means I no longer have to hand pump the antifreeze into my system but can use this piece of kit to do the hard work instead!
With 140PSI of powerful pressure, it doesn’t take long to get the antifreeze pumped through the lines in my rig, and weighing only 3 pounds, I can move it around and use it with ease. The mighty pressure can inflate a 195/55/R15 car tire from 0 to 35psi within 5 minutes, which is more powerful and faster than conventional vehicle tire pumps!
While it may struggle with large tires, it has no problem with most automotive needs. I like that it comes with three different power options: a standard 110V cord, lithium battery, and 12V car connection, as it means I’m not limited to only one power source and can use this AUTDER wherever it’s needed.
It also has safety features I enjoy, such as lights for working at night and automatic full tire detection so I don’t need to worry about overinflating, as demonstrated in the video below.
The instructions may not be as clear as they could be, so I would recommend taking things slow and watching a video or two like the one above, of how to use this air compressor if you’re uncertain.
This kit comes with multiple adaptable nozzles, so it should be suitable for most RVs and will save you considerable time when it comes to winterizing your rig. The compact carrying case is a nice addition as it means I can keep all the components of the pump together neatly in one place.
Best Hand Pump: Camco Antifreeze Hand Pump Kit
- No electrical power required
- Ideal off-grid option
- Simple to use
- Good Camco customer service
I’m always on the lookout for products that are easy to use, and sometimes, the old-school way is the best! This Camco Antifreeze Hand Pump Kit is ideal for pumping antifreeze through RV pipes and doesn’t require electricity. I spend a lot of my time living off-grid, and this means I am very wary of my electricity levels, especially if I’m not getting much sun on my solar panels!
Therefore, having the option of a hand pump is extremely useful and means I can pump antifreeze through my plumbing even if I don’t have any electrical power left. This kit makes life a lot easier too, as it comes with everything needed to get the antifreeze into my RV plumbing, including a city water hose connection.
I enjoy the stress-free feeling that this hand pump complies with California’s AB1953 and Vermont Act 193 Low Lead Laws, ensuring it’s safe to use and contains low levels of lead, a material that can be harmful. I find it useful to add a clamp or fastener to keep the tube in place and attached securely, as otherwise, the antifreeze can make things slippery and the tube hard to keep hold of!
Overall, this is a very simple product and I found the operating instructions easy to understand, and when paired with a safe and effective RV antifreeze, it’s a dreamy match. Plus Camco usually has great customer service and no trouble explaining their products to those who ask.
Best Overall Kit: Camco 36190 RV Winter Readiness Kit
- Convenient as its a full kit
- Easy to use
- Informative instructions
Yet another Camco product?! It may be surprising, but these guys know what RVs are all about having been operating since 1966, and they’re always one step ahead of the competition. That’s why I had to include this Camco winterization kit, as it contains everything I need to keep my RV dry and unfrozen to survive through winter, and cuts down the time it takes to winterize too.
The Premium Ban Frost 2000 antifreeze concentrate, blow-out plug, and hand pump kit all work together, making the RV winterization process easy and stress-free. I particularly enjoy the mini dehumidifier, refillable dehumidifier moisture absorber, and hanging dehumidifier, as they all help to keep my rig smelling fresh whilst it’s in storage. I also find the fridge door stay handy for keeping the door propped open, helping avoid any musty or damp smells.
Diving into the world of RVing can be a bit nerve-wracking, I know I felt overwhelmed at first with all the information out there! If it’s your first time winterizing your rig, a kit like this Camco 36190 might be worth considering. Plus, all Camco products are fairly straightforward to use and this kit even contains informative instructions that are easy to follow.
I would prefer the blow-out plug to be a bit more sturdy, as I like to use a brass blow-out plug instead of a plastic one. Overall, however, this is an ideal kit to get started with RV winterization, but I would suggest upgrading to brass parts in the future where possible for increased longevity and durability.
Are There Other Options For Clearing The Lines?
While non-toxic RV antifreeze is the preference of many RVers, overall it will be the most expensive option on the market. The most affordable RV antifreeze option is going to be whatever product is ethanol based.
This may not be ideal, but if you’re concerned about your RV budget, choosing an ethanol-based antifreeze will save you a bit of money. If you own an air compressor, you can blow out the water from the pipes with the same machine each winter, then this will probably be an even cheaper option for you.
However, an air compressor is a larger upfront cost, plus you’ll need to be sure you know how to operate it. However, you may find using an air compressor solves all of your current issues with RV antifreeze, including affordability!
Many RVers report that an air compression system is all they need to winterize their rigs, just be sure to use the correct PSI to avoid any damage coming to the plumbing system. However, if you live in extreme temperatures or aren’t certain what the state of your lines is like right now, beginning with antifreeze might be a good idea.
What About Antifreeze Kits?
If you are relatively new to RVing and winterizing your rig, you’re in luck. There are loads of resources online to help you out, including RV forums and many stores sell antifreeze and winterization kits too.
These kits often include some important (but not always necessary) items such as dehumidifiers, hand pumps and nozzles for antifreeze dispersion, and more. You may not need everything that’s in the kit, but if you’re just getting started, it may not be a bad idea!
The kits are often affordable but may only last one season. As previously stated, you may find it cheaper to only purchase select things you need rather than an entire kit. If you already own an air compressor or if your rig has ways of dispersing antifreeze already, a kit may not be the best choice for you.
What’s The Difference Between RV And Automotive Antifreeze?
You may be wondering how and why there’s a difference between RV and regular old automotive antifreeze. This question comes down to the basic uses of RV antifreeze differing widely from those of automotive antifreeze.
RV antifreeze is used in the plumbing systems of your RV while automotive antifreeze is used in your car’s coolant system. RV antifreeze is always less toxic, as automotive antifreeze is very poisonous and should never be consumed.
This is why it’s vital to only buy RV-safe antifreeze, and avoid the automotive antifreeze section of the store altogether. Automotive antifreeze is often a denser product and is made from ethylene glycol, which although sounds similar to the propylene glycol used in RV antifreeze, is very different and highly toxic.
Thankfully, RV antifreeze and automotive antifreeze come in different colors, most likely on purpose. Most people report purchasing RV antifreeze in pink or blue colors, while automotive antifreeze is often only found in green or yellow. This is useful to look out for when it’s time to go to the store and make and pick up a bottle or two!
The basic difference between the two products is how they interact with your RV and car. RV antifreeze is much simpler as its only purpose is to keep water from freezing. Automotive antifreeze, on the other hand, is used in conjunction with the engine to maintain a stable temperature.
It’s imperative to never use car antifreeze in your RV’s plumbing system. It can cause long-lasting damage, as well as potentially be toxic to you and your family. Be safe, read your labels, and use non-toxic antifreeze only in your RV!
Figuring out your RV’s plumbing system is a necessary evil of RV ownership. Improper winterization of your brand-new rig could spell disaster the next time you want to take it out for a spin! Knowing how RV antifreeze can help your winterization may make all the difference for you. Just be sure to check the antifreeze is compliant with your rig before you use it and you should be good to go.