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Is RV Antifreeze Safe to Drink?

Whether or not RV antifreeze is safe to drink is more likely a question of what’s in your antifreeze, or potentially a question for an emergency situation because a child or animal drank some.

The answer does depend on a couple of things: the labeling on the antifreeze and how much they had.

While some antifreeze is actually safe to drink in small quantities, it’s not recommended for consumption.

What is anti freeze used for?

Let’s be clear here: we are not talking about anti freeze for a car. Vehicle anti freeze is to keep the engine temperature within your vehicle stable, whether it’s hot or cold out. The purpose is a bit different, and to be even more clear, vehicle anti freeze is very toxic for consumption. If consumed, contact poison control at the very least. 

What is RV anti freeze supposed to be used for?

RV anti freeze is more generally used to ensure your septic system and other water carrying areas in you RV don’t freeze with flowing water. 

Since your RV likely has water in the pipes at least some of the team, you certainly want to keep them from freezing and expanding. The freezing and expanding of water into ice can cause major damage to pipes and septic systems, including breakages and leaks.

We also suggest draining your anti freeze and flushing out tanks and lines before using water again. This is more post winterization if you don’t intend to use your RV for a while.

Is RV anti freeze toxic?

The best way to answer this is no, with a but. The “but” is that while RV anti freeze can be consumed, and will likely lead to at least diarheaa in large quantities, there’s no real reason why a person should drink it intentionally.

Many RV anti freeze bottles will say non toxic on front. This label is moreso to indicate that if your kids or pets accidentally get into the anti freeze and drink it, you have less to worry about than if they drank car anti freeze. If a dealer or person selling RVs says that RV anti freeze is safe to drink, take this more as reassurance in the event that someone does by accident. It’s also feasible to drink the water in your RV when it’s been winterized since it’s heavily diluted by actual water. Draining is still suggested, but not required.

You should also check the contents of the bottle for propylene Glycol. This is the only kind of anti freeze that is even remotely safe to drink, even by accident. Some RV antifreezes use ethanol, which is also not safe to ingest and is an ingredient in some forms of gasoline.

Still, if a child or pet drinks a lot of RV anti freeze, we would still strongly suggest calling poison control and a doctor. 

What should I do with RV anti freeze?

Regardless of what the bottle says about it’s non toxic abilities, you should still store your antifreeze in a safe place away from kids. 

First, anti freeze doesn’t actually taste good. There’s a good chance a kid will spit it out after one swig – but some kids are undaunted and might keep going.

Can I drink RV anti freeze in an emergency?

We wouldn’t suggest it, even in small amounts. RV anti freeze can still cause diarheaa, which makes any situation in which you are running low on water and could be facing dehydration even worse.

Our suggestion is to put your thoughts and efforts into other ways to get rescued or get help and not try the anti freeze.

Why would people tell you it’s safe to drink?

The reasoning tends to be pretty simple: If you don’t put RV anti freeze in your septic or water system, and it gets cold enough out – your pipes could burst. The safe counter to this is using RV anti freezer.

The risk of problems from drinking anti freeze within a larger water system are significantly lower than the problems you’ll experience if you don’t use any at all – especially in a colder climate.

What they don’t mean is “It’s safe and reasonable to drink by itself and not have any problems.” Try water or something else instead.

Conclusion

While RV anti freeze can technically be safe to drink, we strongly encourage you not to try it intentionally. The bottle is often labeled to indicate that anti freeze is safe – which it is within the confines of a RV septic system, where it is diluted to be really safe.

To put this very simply: You should certainly use anti freeze in your septic system if water system if you are in a cold climate. Keep it away from kids as you would with any vehicle fluid.

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