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Old 11-30-2006, 12:16 PM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
Alpine , Texas
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health effects of antifreeze?

We are full-timers in Alpine, Texas. It froze last night (28 degF), and will again tonight (17 degF), which is what brings me here today. This is our first winter and so we wrapped the feed hose yesterday when we pulled in to Alpine, but that was all. Don't know any effects of last night yet. Haven't had the furnace on, just space heaters, because the furnace makes a very loud rattle whenever on, and we had other upgrades/repairs going on, so we haven't addressed that yet.

So I've been reading the forums today and the nagging background question is: DRINKING/ COOKING WITH / SHOWERING IN ANTIFREEZE????

When we bought this '74 Sovereign in June, there was a horrible antifreeze smell coming out of any running water, and it took me a while to get rid of it with flushing, but I still suspect traces. I'm somewhat chemically sensitive- the first manifestation is a bad instant headache with most solvents, synthetic fragrances and the like. So some might be thinking "primadonna," but haven't we heard in the news of antifreeze killing dogs and cats? (My ex mother-in-law used to do that on purpose, the weird odd woman, but that's another forum.)

Someone mentioned rock salt in a tank in Canada.... Anyone know more?

Cold in Alpine...

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Old 11-30-2006, 12:26 PM   #2
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do a search and you will find a lot of information. Just recently someone posted that rather than using the "RV" antifreeze he uses cheap vodka. that sounds like a better alternative to me but we don't need it where we live

Ron and Debbie Lawrence
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Old 11-30-2006, 12:31 PM   #3
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There is a very big difference in the chemical compounds* used to make automotive antifreeze (kills dogs, cats, and people), and the type that is called RV antifreeze. If you have any doubt about the type that was used in your trailer, treat it as the poisionous type.

It can kill you.

*actually, one is ethylene glycol and the other is propylene glycol. Not much different, but still enough to kill you if ingested.
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Old 11-30-2006, 12:43 PM   #4
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vodka it is!!!

Probably more expensive, assuming it may require more of the substance to keep water above 32 degF, though I don't know. (I could pull out my chem book and do something with my calculator and "moles" of the substance required.... but I won't.) Definitely preferred. I'll try it. Thanks. Meanwhile tonight I'm also going to use heat tape and try to get the furnace on, and bear the noise it makes. I think I'll also keep it dripping. If alarm bells ring out there with any of this, you're welcome to step in.

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Old 11-30-2006, 01:00 PM   #5
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We only use gin or vodka here in Minnesota where it gets really cold. Where you live you can use 3.2 beer.
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Old 11-30-2006, 01:06 PM   #6
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Texas as a whole would never allow such a limit, although many enclaves, including near me, are of the same 3.2 ilk. Minnesota!!! I'm with the "head south" crowd. These freezes are infrequent here, which is part of why we're building a house in Alpine. (so the full-timing will be only part time) Everyone has their own Eden.
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Old 11-30-2006, 01:56 PM   #7
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It is a long process getting rid of the taste if antifreeze was added to the freshwater tank -- and it is not necessary to put it there in the first place. This tank material is strong and can readily withstand a small layer of ice in the bottom. There are a couple very good 'sticky' threads in the winterizing subforum if a reader wants to look into this further.

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Old 11-30-2006, 02:01 PM   #8
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If you are fulltiming, I would not put any antifreeze in the system, but I would have your furnace fixed, particularly if the furnace is ducted to the tanks.
Computers manufactured by companies such as IBM, Compaq and millions of others are by far the most popular with about 70 million machines in use worldwide. Macintosh fans note that cockroaches are far more numerous than humans and that numbers alone do not denote a higher life form. -NY Times 11/91
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:10 PM   #9
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Propylene glycol - (Wikipedia) is used in a lot of things and is generally considered safe. It is metabolized into something similar to what your muscles produce when they work. Its a moisturizer with many uses.

ethelyne glycol is a close cousin but its metabolism products are poisonous.

You can find RV antifreeze - potable with propylene glycol - that is scented or otherwise tasteful or you can find some that does not impart taste. The non scented stuff that doesn't have have significant taste is probably what you want to use in your RV plumbing.
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:19 PM   #10
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Just flush the tank with water. Don't put salt in the tank. does wonders for raising your blood pressure. For your safety and chem sensitivity just use bottle water for drinking and cooking..even the antifreeze that is supposed to be earth friendly still can kill animals. read the warning labels. I've drained all tanks and put cheep cooking oil in the p traps.blow out the water tank with commpresed air with drain open then closed drain,put cooking oil in the toilet let about 2qts get in black tank leave a little in the toilet helps keep the seal from drying out..
just want to camp happy
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:29 PM   #11
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I remember that from another venue

Originally Posted by jeff&jess
...Someone mentioned rock salt in a tank in Canada.... Anyone know more?
IIRC, The rock salt was supposed to be added to the black tank to be dumped at a convenient time into whatever septic system was available when the tank was full.

Then another poster threatened death if someone was to come along and kill all the bacteria in his septic system with salt.

The discussion seemed to trail off at that point.

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Old 11-30-2006, 05:11 PM   #12
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You can also empty the tanks and blow out the water lines with compressed air until the freeze is over . When refilling , a few cups of white vinigar in the fresh water tank eliminates a lot of odors . Also add a little RV antifreeze in the traps . The furnace will protect the plumbing much better than auxilery heaters . Good luck.

PS. It was 65 here today
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Old 11-30-2006, 05:53 PM   #13
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To the point

First, RV antifreeze is not poison-period. It is red or pink in color. It is not for use when you are living in the unit, but rather during times of storage.
If the unit ever had the automotive antifreeze in it, most likely, you would have already been very sick. As for the smell, most RV antifreeze has little or no smell. If your unit had smell last fall, it should go in short order if you follow the next bit of advice.
Now, your Airstream was designed to be used in cold weather. The fresh water tank has heat ducted around it from the furnace. The way to be freeze proof during real cold weather is to fill the fresh water tank and unhook the water hose from the trailer and the spigot. Hook back up only to refill the fresh tank. Then, just use water from the tank. Let the black and gray tanks fill up and then empty them as necessary, being sure to do so after a warm shower. That way, the drain hose will get a good rinse.
Enjoy the refreshing winter, it will be so hot again soon!


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WBCCI #6673 jerry Hodge
Have no intention of arriving at the grave safely, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand,throttle in the other, totally worn out and screaming
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Old 12-01-2006, 06:08 PM   #14
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Thanks, everyone. All of your advice was well received by us. Last night we disconnected the hose before bed, closed the tanks, and ran the furnace (the noise actually abated over time.) No problems this morning, we hooked the hose right up and had running water right away. Only thing....

Now (still, from the first freeze two nights ago) the grey tank won't drain when I open it. I know there's water in there. The black tank drains, I just drained it OK but oops no grey to follow it with (so I flushed it many times after the "main" drain.) Two nights ago I had it left open when it froze, but could something still be frozen??? (Sunny, high of 62 today.) Or could the freeze have damaged the tank? I'll search the forums.... Thanks again.


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