While dealing with RV antifreeze, this question often pops up in my mind, “Is RV antifreeze toxic to plants and grass?”
However, I was also highly concerned with the antifreeze’s toxicity level and how it would affect the greenery around me if dumped on my garden area.
What I found is, RV antifreeze can, at times, be toxic to green life depending on the antifreeze’s principal ingredient.
Let’s dig in to discover more about it.
So, will RV antifreeze kill grass? In most circumstances, no, RV antifreeze will not kill grass. RV antifreeze is made from propylene glycol, which is nontoxic and will be heavily diluted in an RV water system when it comes to emptying.
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Plants and grass are delicate. If leaked into the soil, certain pesticides cause a reduction in the nutrient value and hamper plants’ growth.
Likewise, dispersing RV antifreeze across a garden area or backyard is dangerous. It can get absorbed into the soil and affect the ecosystem of surrounding plant life and even kill them.
The same goes for turf patches and mature grass. However, compared to plants, they are less susceptible to damage if RV antifreeze with mild toxicity is dispersed over the grass blades.
Now, what does that mean?
The extent to which the antifreeze can hurt green life (or grass) depends majorly on RV antifreeze types and various other factors.
Interesting? Keep reading.
Different types of RV antifreeze are available in the market from multiple brands. The toxicity levels to plants and potential antifreeze poisoning also vary considerably for each type.
For me, it was necessary to comprehend and recognize these distinctions since I had plants to protect and a beloved lawn that I didn’t want to put at risk of losing a life.
Other factors that determine the antifreeze’s toxicity level include:
- its dilution, or how much water is present in the formula
- the volume or amount of antifreeze dispersed over what yardage of turf
Not all RV types of antifreeze are heavily poisonous. The product’s composition determines its toxicity level and if it can kill grass or not. Some commonly available RV antifreeze types are:
- Ethanol and ethylene glycol blend
- Propylene blend with ethanol
- Propylene glycol
Propylene Glycol RV antifreeze is the least toxic solution with substantial water dilution. Though plants are not safe from it, turf or grass remains fine if it holds substantial dilution.
Ethanol is widely used as an antifreeze for automobiles. It is also available as an RV antifreeze and is highly affordable. This factor makes it popular among RV users.
However, considering the toxicity element, it is extremely hazardous for plant life and grass. As ethanol is categorized as alcohol, it is potent. Its effectiveness in the RV’s plumbing system cannot be denied, but it is not environment friendly and can kill plants and grass right away.
Ethanol and Ethylene Glycol Blend
RV antifreeze consisting of ethylene glycol and ethanol is also the worst option. It is suitable to use as an automobile antifreeze but not recommended for RV or camper winterization.
The mixture converts into oxalic acid after oxidation and becomes extremely toxic. The toxicity degree can be estimated because it can easily dry out rubber seals of toilets and faucets and create leakage.
So, it is evident that delicate creatures like plants and grass cannot withstand its toxicity. It is poisonous enough to prevent the plant’s growth and extinct grass. The concoction is harmful to humans, too, and requires careful handling.
As it has a sweet and appealing smell, children and pets are more likely to ingest the compound, which can be fatal.
Ethanol and Propylene Glycol Blend
This compound constitutes propylene glycol and ethanol. It is a blended mixture of both the chemicals used extensively as RV antifreeze.
I like this solution as it works effectively for both automobiles and RVs. But, its properties do not alter much and offer similar drawbacks to green life as other RV antifreeze mentioned earlier.
The toxicity level decreases for humans but remains the same for grass due to the presence of alcohol-based ethanol.
Certain RV antifreeze brands are claiming to offer non-toxic variations; however, I consider such claims to be bogus. This is because; the inclusion of ethanol eliminates the product from among the appropriate ones to be used near grass or turf.
Among all the antifreeze options available, propylene glycol tends to be the least toxic to turf/grass or plants. This formula is highly preferred by avid gardeners and individuals who like lush green lawns or have special concerns for plant life.
This does not imply that propylene glycol is the best RV antifreeze and does not affect the grass.
Certain scientific experiments have shown that propylene glycol vapors are toxic to soya beans and corn. The vaporous gas resulted in chlorosis, which destroys the leaves’ green color and causes cellular death.
So, propylene glycol does not instantly kill grass or plants, but affects their growth significantly and enhances their pollen sterility.
Many individuals in the RV community believe that it is possible to identify the most poisonous RV antifreeze by color. The perception is that the pink colored antifreeze is safest, where the one in green color is hazardous.
I do not believe in this concept because that is not always the case. The solution’s color is not a parameter to judge what primary ingredients are present in the product.
So, using color as an indication is a blunder. The best tip is to read the label to find what are the solution’s ingredients and if it is the least toxic option for grass and other living creatures or not.
With the above discussion, one thing is for sure that all the ethanol-based RV antifreeze types are a threat to grass and immediately destroys them if they come into contact.
Propylene glycol-based RV antifreeze is not a threat to grass. It works fine as long as it is diluted heavily and distributed on a larger area using a spray. The low concentration and grass durability are two factors that may keep the grass safe.
Again, there is no 100% surety that grass will not change its color and die off.
So, I recommend none of the aforementioned RV antifreeze is good for grass health. Instead, working on a controlled and safe RV antifreeze disposal is a wise step towards protecting the green life.
Are you wondering what to do with the used RV antifreeze?
The best way to dispose of the used antifreeze is by draining it out down to any RV dump station. Another option is to collect into a bucket and dispose of with proper safety measures.
What I do is I fill the tank with freshwater and run it through the shower and faucets. This flushes the lines out thoroughly. Thereafter, I dump the tank.
During the cleaning process where antifreeze spills, take the following precautions:
- Wear protective gloves and gear to avoid absorption of chemicals by skin
- Wear a face mask to prevent or minimize inhalation of chemical fumes
- Keep children and pets away from the spill
- Absorbent pads are helpful is soaking up the spilled solution
- Avoid using a hose to wipe away antifreeze since this will result in a diluted solution, but will not eliminate the threat to grass, lawns, and plants
For me, winterizing RV involves not only taking clever steps to protect the vehicle’s plumbing system, but also taking care of the environment and life around me.
Almost every RV antifreeze available in the market is toxic, with minor variations. Therefore, I believe that any contact between the grass and the solution can severely damage it and even kill it.
However, following safety guidelines and taking precautions while disposing of the antifreeze component can completely avoid green life threats.