Is RV antifreeze toxic to plants? Furthermore, after it’s been drained from your RV’s plumbing system, what should you do with it?
RV antifreeze may sometimes be toxic to plants. It depends on the primary ingredient for the product. This might be Ethanol, Ethanol and Ethylene Glycol Blend, a Propylene Blend with Ethanol, or Propylene Glycol. The least toxic is a Propylene Glycol RV antifreeze product when heavily diluted with water. However, plants aren’t safe from it whereas grass or turf might be okay if it’s already substantially diluted.
Read Also: Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals?
Let’s now dig into managing your use of RV antifreeze and how it relates to plant life, and grass or turf.
Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to Plants?
Plants are not invulnerable. For instance, pesticides can strip the nutrients and prevent them from fully developing.
Similarly, dispersing antifreeze previously used in an RV’s plumbing system across a backyard can hurt nearby plant life.
It’s best to avoid using any RV antifreeze near plants.
Will RV Antifreeze Harm Grass?
Older grass and a newly laid lawn could suffer less from some RV antifreeze [affiliate link] being distributed over it.
Now, with that said, it does depend on the type of RV antifreeze, how diluted it is, and the volume spread over what square footage or yardage of turf.
Toxicity Levels Vary Between RV Antifreeze Products
The level of toxicity to plants varies between RV antifreeze types and the various brands too. Therefore, there isn’t a catch-all answer here.
Nevertheless, there are distinct differences in the toxicity potential between RV antifreeze types. It is important to understand these distinctions when you’ve got beloved plants or a luscious lawn have that you don’t wish to lose.
Read Also: What is RV Antifreeze?
Here are the 4 types of RV antifreeze and information about their potential toxicity:
Ethanol isn’t just used for automobiles. It’s often the most affordable RV antifreeze and remains popular because of it.
From a toxicity perspective, it’s extremely bad for healthy plants too. Our article about whether RV antifreeze is toxic to animals is also worth reviewing if you own pets.
Being a type of alcohol, ethanol is potent and while being effective in the plumbing system of an RV, it’s not great for the environment, plants, or grass. For this reason, it’s best avoided if you ever come into contact with it.
Ethylene Glycol and Ethanol Mix
The mixing of Ethylene Glycol and Ethanol is one of the worst options. It’s mostly used for automobile antifreeze and should be avoided altogether for use in a recreational vehicle or towable.
If consumed, the concoction becomes oxidized as oxalic acid which is highly toxic. It could stop plants from growing and poison the soil too. Also, it has the potential to be dangerous for people as well.
It is best avoided.
Ethanol and Propylene Glycol Blend
A mixed RV antifreeze that contains both ethanol and Propylene Glycol as a blended liquid solution is on the market. In many ways, it intends to be the best of both worlds. However, in so doing, it remains somewhat toxic for plants because of Ethanol content (a form of alcohol).
With the blended nature of this type of RV antifreeze – and the different mixtures from various brands – the degree of potential toxicity varies. With that said, just the inclusion of ethanol rules it out as one that’s acceptable to use near plant life or turf.
The use of Propylene Glycol as a primary ingredient in some RV antifreeze is good news for people with green fingers.
This type of product is usually non-toxic. Indeed, it’s designed unlike automobile antifreeze to be usable in an RV without the normally associated risks of ingestion by animals or danger to lush lawns.
Also, it has previously been added to pet food. Of all the formulations available, it is likely to be the least potentially toxic to plants or turf, by far.
A Word of Warning
Essentially, what we’re talking about here is finding a place to dispose of RV antifreeze after it’s been drained out of the plumbing system.
Plant Life – Even the milder RV antifreeze products made from Propylene Glycol are ones you wouldn’t want to find their way onto plants or into the soil. It’s simply too high of a risk. Also, once it is in the soil, it will be difficult to remove.
Grass or Turf – It manages far better when heavily diluted and distributed widely using a sprayer. The far lower concentration in any one area and the durability of grass mean it’s largely unaffected by it. With that said, grass doesn’t need it. If you decide to distribute used RV antifreeze in this manner, what would you do if the grass turned a brown color and died off? It’s certainly worth thinking about!
Disposing of RV antifreeze in a safe, controlled manner is always going to be best. Normal drainage systems are perfectly adequate for this task.
Can You Use Color to Spot the Safer RV Antifreeze?
Some RVers still maintain it’s possible to spot the most non-toxic RV antifreeze [affiliate link] simply because of the color inside the bottle.
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The thinking goes that pink RV antifreeze is safer and green ones are to be avoided.
Now while that’s commonly the case, that doesn’t mean it always will be. For instance, coloring additives can be used to alter the liquid’s appearance. Therefore, don’t use color as an indication. Know what you’re using first. That way, it’ll be clear that you’ve selected the safest product.