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RV antifreeze is great in protecting your plumbing system during winter. It’s a must-have maintenance material for your rig. But it’s important to know if it can also freeze, especially during the days when it’s very cold.  

RV antifreeze is available in -50F and -100F and will freeze and burst pipes in an RV. The freezing point is when the fluid becomes slushy as crystals form. However, the damage to pipes will not occur until the rating (-50F or -100F) or burst point is reached.

So we know that RV antifreeze does in fact freeze. In this article, let’s find out at what temperature RV antifreeze will freeze so you’ll be able to get ready or prevent any damage.

Before we proceed, you might want to read the other post in the winterizing your RV series:

What Is RV Antifreeze?

A bottle of Freezeproof RV antifreeze
Freezeproof RV and Marine antifreeze

RV Antifreeze contains propylene glycol, alcohol, or a mix of both. It is used to prevent damage to the RV piping system in the winter. It is pumped through the system to replace any water that is left in the pipes.              

Scientifically, when water freezes, it expands. This expansion on your plumbing system will destroy it.

What the RV antifreeze does is increase the freezing point of the liquid so that it does not expand as quickly during winter.                                 

In addition, RV antifreeze is different from automotive antifreeze. Beyond the difference in color, pink vs blue, RV antifreeze is non-toxic. It is meant to be used in an RV.

Although, winterizing your RV does not mean that you just have to put antifreeze on your RV.  It takes more than just a process.                  

Winterizing your RV starts with you emptying all your tanks.  You have to drain all your freshwater tanks and lines.  You also have to drain, flush and clean your toilet, and gray and black water tanks properly.

If you have a water heater tank, you must also drain this and the sink, shower, and faucets as well.  You can drain your sink, shower, and faucet by opening them until there is no more water coming out from them.         

What is the freezing point for RV Antifreeze?                            

The grade of RV antifreeze indicates the temperature where the liquid will become frozen and expand, causing pipes to burst (ie burst point). The -50F RV antifreeze will begin to freeze or become slushy at +20F but will not cause damage until -50F. The -100F grade antifreeze will begin to freeze at -20F but can be safely used to -100F.

Here is another way to look at this. Compared to water that freezes solid and expands at 32F, Antifreeze begins to gel or get slushy but does not cause problems until the rating. Again the bursting point is where the liquid will expand and burst the pipes.

Freezing Point for Antifreeze compared to water

Liquid Typewater -50 RV Antifreeze-100 RV Antifreeze
Freezing Point32 F (0C)+20F (-6C) -20F (-29C)
Burst Point 32 F (0C)-50 F (-45 C)-100 F (-73C)
Comparing the burst and freezing point of antifreeze and water

How much Anti-freeze does my RV need?

A child filling the sink with antifreeze chemical
Winterizing an RV with RV anti-freeze. Pouring to fill the p trap.

The amount of RV antifreeze that you would need to winterize your RV may vary depending on your RV’s plumbing system size, your way of winterizing your RV, and the brand may also cause the amount needed to vary.                                      

Let’s take the Camco RV antifreeze as an example.  On the Camco’s label, these are the recommended amount needed:

  • RV without water tank or toilet – 1gallon
  • RV under 18 ft. – 2 gallons**
  • RV 18-28 ft. – 3 – 4 gallons**
  • RV 28-40 fr. – 4 – 5 gallons

**Provided water heater and holding tanks are in bypass mode

I use 4 gallons for my 35-foot travel trailer. The water heater is bypassed. However, I add about a gallon to each holding tank.

To have an idea of how much you would need, you can check on the labels of your RV antifreeze.  It is also smart to have at least 1-gallon spare just in case the estimate on the label would not be enough.                

Caution: you should not dilute your RV antifreeze with water. This will lessen the protection capacity of your RV antifreeze and defeat its purpose.

Are There Other Ways to Winterize my RV?

Yes, there is another way of winterizing your RV even without an RV antifreeze if you do not like to use it. Some people winterize their RV by using an air compressor and call this the “Air Compression Method”. With this method, every tank on your RV is drained and blown using the air compressor until no water particle is left.

Although, this method could be risky most especially when there is water left on your traps and corners of your plumbing system.  These bits of water can freeze during winter and cause cracks in your RV.

Also, air pressure can also damage your plumbing system.  Using too much air pressure can also cause damages to your system without you immediately noticing it. So if you do not know how to properly do this method, it would really be risky.

If the method of adding RV antifreeze and the air compression method is still not good for you, another option is to bring your RV to experts so they can be the ones to do the work for you.

This is the easiest method to have your RV prepared for the coming winter season.  You don’t really have much work to do, just bring your RV to a professional and they will have everything covered.

Although this is the most convenient one, this can also be the most expensive one.  If the expense is not a problem, letting the professionals handle the job will still be the best option.

What is the Freezing Point of an RV Antifreeze

Coolant tank with a pink liquid antifreeze of a radiator system in car.
Birdlkportfolio via

The grade of RV antifreeze indicates the temperature where it will freeze and expand, causing pipes to burst (ie burst point). The -50F RV antifreeze will begin to freeze or become slushy at +20F but will burst pipes until -50F. The -100F grade antifreeze will begin to freeze at -20F but can be safely used to-100F.

An RV antifreeze is usually in liquid form, but it is not liquid like water; it is like a jelly liquid form that is why when it “freezes” it does not also freeze to solid-like water.  It turns into a gel or slushy-like consistency.

The freezing point of an RV antifreeze also differs with each brand. The burst freezing point of an RV antifreeze is the rating written on the labels. This information varies from every brand too and may go down when you mix it with water.  That’s why as mentioned, you should not dilute your RV antifreeze with water.

Although typically, an RV antifreeze can withstand up to -50 degrees Fahrenheit to -100 degrees Fahrenheit before its freeze burst point. These freeze burst points can also vary depending on the type of RV antifreeze that you would be using.

Different Types of RV Antifreeze

There are three types of RV antifreeze available in the market today. You can also check the label of your RV antifreeze to know which type you’re using or buying.  These three are the following:

Ethanol-Based RV Antifreeze

Sometimes called alcohol-based RV antifreeze because of the ethanol content.  This type of antifreeze is widely available and inexpensive but can be dangerous.

Although it is widely available and inexpensive, it also has some drawbacks.  The ethanol is flammable and it can also leave a nasty taste on the water system even after being flushed out.

Using ethanol-based RV antifreeze can also deteriorate the rubber seals in your valves and pump.

Among the types of RV antifreeze, this type of antifreeze is the only type that is not recommended for consumption.

This type typically has up to -50 degrees Fahrenheit burst point.

Propylene-Glycol Based RV Antifreeze

Propylene-glycol is the more expensive option for an RV antifreeze.  However, it is the preferred type of RV antifreeze, especially for your RV’s water system.

This type of RV antifreeze is odorless, tasteless, and non-toxic making it safe to be placed on your water system.

It can also be used as a lubricant on your traps and seals to prolong their life or use.

This type typically has up to -100 degrees Fahrenheit burst point.

Propylene Ethanol Blend RV Antifreeze

Propylene Ethanol Blend RV antifreeze type of RV antifreeze is the mixture of the first two.  It lets you enjoy the benefits of the two previous types of RV antifreeze with just one.

This type is also non-toxic making it safe for your plumbing system, but since there is still ethanol in it, it can still cause damage to your rubber seals with frequent use.

What’s the Difference Between an RV Antifreeze and a Regular Car Antifreeze?

The main difference between an RV antifreeze and a regular car antifreeze is the chemical makeup and purpose.  A regular car antifreeze’s main purpose is to keep the car’s fuel and engine from freezing while an RV antifreeze keeps water and your plumbing system from freezing.

A regular car antifreeze also contains components that may be toxic and dangerous when ingested while an RV’s antifreeze is generally non-toxic and safe.

To know whether the antifreeze you are using or purchasing is an RV antifreeze or a regular RV antifreeze, you can check its color.  An RV antifreeze is usually pink, but can sometimes come in blue while a regular car antifreeze is usually green, but may sometimes come in yellow.

Final Thoughts on RV Antifreeze

Technically, an RV antifreeze can freeze, but not into solid ice.  It can harden and slowly expand until it reaches its freezing bursting point. The burst point will damage the water lines and destroy the plumbing.

It is very important to winterize your RV before the winter arrives.  You can do this by either applying an antifreeze to your system or doing the air compression method by yourself, or by hiring professionals to winterize your RV for you.

Winterizing your RV can take a lot of work, but always remember that doing this will help you avoid future problems with your RV’s plumbing system.  If the work is too much for you to handle, hiring professionals will always be a better option.

Also, if you’re winterizing your RV yourself, in order not to reduce the protection capacity of your antifreeze, no matter what brand, you should not dilute it with water.

Whichever type of RV antifreeze you choose, properly winterizing your RV will save you from damages caused by the decrease of temperature during the winter season.

Always remember to use the correct antifreeze for your RV which is an RV antifreeze and not just any other car antifreeze to avoid problems brought by using the wrong antifreeze.

When the winter arrives, I hope this article already helped you be more prepared.

It’s a good idea to plan this ahead especially if you’re thinking of winter camping, The Etsy Store not only has amazing planners and journals you can take with you on your next camping trip, but they also make wonderful presents for friends and family members who love to go camping as well.

For more winter driving tips and destinations in an RV check these out:

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    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

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