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Old 11-05-2012, 08:23 AM   #1
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propylene glycol in H2O tank

Last year I winterized using the 1965 manual directions and all was fine. This year I decided to put RV antifreeze throughout the system and used a propylene glycol based pink antifreeze. I thought it was alchohol based and am worried about this stuff. Should I flush everything now and start over or can I flush the system in the spring? I do not drink the fresh water but use it to wash dishes. Also should i use a soap to flush the system or just fresh water?I would appreciate any suggestions. thank you
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:32 AM   #2
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The RV antifreeze is designed and formulated for drinking water systems. That said, it is A LOT of extra work to drain and flush it out in the fresh tank, from a taste standpoint. I would leave it till spring, fill and drain it about 5 times, sanitize it with clorox ( and the plumbing as well) and call it good. Especially since you don't drink from it.
Does your tank have a bung type access in the bottom or just a "spigot" type drain?

The bung may get more of it out and reduce the number of times you feel necessary to fill and drain.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:40 AM   #3
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RiverRat, The pink glygol is know as "Inhibited" i.e being stable from -30oF to 250oF and having a low toxic value with a Ph of 9.6 and 100% soluble in water. Flush completely with water running at all taps and filter locations, including the lavatory for 20 minutes or so and you will be fine. Let stand for 20 minutes and test a sample by placing a tablespoon of your tap water on a clean white paper sheet. After a 5 minute period the test area should not show any indication of pink or reddish halo effect on the test location. Do not use a soap or additive cleansing solution due to potential cross chemical contamination of the chemical makeup of the product i.e. two different chemicals can combine to create a potential toxic soup.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:43 AM   #4
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I'm a Little Confused...

... but that isn't unusual.
Did you use "RV & Marine Antifreeze"?
Did the label state:
"For potable water plumbing systems."?

If so, the major ingredient is ethyl alcohol, with some propylene glycol.

If this is what you used, no problem.

Just wait 'til Spring and do what dznfog said.

If you used the GM pink, automotive antifreeze, then we have a more challenging situation.

Please advise.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:54 AM   #5
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It may not be as bad a boo-boo as you think. Here's a quote from a toxicology report on propylene glycol published by the Centers for Disease Controlů

Quote:
Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Propylene glycol is also used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for de-icing solutions. Propylene glycol is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. It is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products. It is a solvent for food colors and flavors, and in the paint and plastics industries. Propylene glycol is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and in theatrical productions.


And later in the reportů

Quote:
Propylene glycol is a clear, practically odorless and tasteless liquid that is slightly syrupy at room temperature. Oral exposure to propylene glycol occurs through ingestion of foods, since propylene glycol is approved for use as a food additive. Ingestion by humans is not frequently associated with adverse effects.


Without taking you through the entire 176-page report, the major take-aways from the report are that (1) small concentrations are only harmful if you get it on your skin where you already have a rash like eczema (2) It naturaly breaks down in about 48 hours when dissolved in water.

Because propylene glycol breaks down in water, the best way to get rid of it is this: When you're ready to un-winterize (summerize?), (1) drain what you can; (2) fill the entire freshwater system; (3) let it sit for at least 48 hours so that any propylene glycol will be absorbed into the water; (4) drain the system the same way you did for winterizing; (5) un-winterize all over again. Once.

No need to flush the system four or five times.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:00 AM   #6
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dznf09, Do Not use bleach with ethylene or propylene glycol. Bleach = sodium hypochlorite, which is an oxidizer. Oxidation of the glycols would convert the glycols to di-aldehydes or di-carboxyl acids and liberate hydrogen.

The shortcomings lead to secondary constituents caused by mixing the two. Meaning that residual amounts of glycolic acid, diglycolic acid and derivatives thereof, which are a significant cause of the ageing of the plumbing products and can in some circumstances cause problems with the solubility behavior. (i.e. cleaning or flushing, rapid heating and potential rapid volume expansion). Just flush with water as others have suggested and you should be fine.

Further disadvantage is the reaction of the products, which in aqueous solutions is a significant cause of pitting corrosion.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:02 AM   #7
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The 4 or 5 times comment is relative to the "from a taste standpoint", not a contaminate standpoint. Some folks are very sensitive to trace tastes.....I'm not. Also the sanitizing comment is a best practice, un-winterizing process, comment....not a need from RV antifreeze presence issue.

Thanks for the reminder to clarify.

Bleach after thorough flushing...as I said.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:04 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by shivtik View Post
dznf09, Do Not use bleach with ethylene or propylene glycol. Bleach = sodium hypochlorite, which is an oxidizer. Oxidation of the glycols would convert the glycols to di-aldehydes or di-carboxyl acids and liberate hydrogen.

The shortcomings lead to secondary constituents caused by mixing the two. Meaning that residual amounts of glycolic acid, diglycolic acid and derivatives thereof, which are a significant cause of the ageing of the plumbing products and can in some circumstances cause problems with the solubility behavior. (i.e. cleaning or flushing, rapid heating and potential rapid volume expansion).

Further disadvantage is the reaction of the products, which in aqueous solutions is a significant cause of pitting corrosion.
Ooh! Lots of big words! Warms my engineer's heart. Short answer: Add water only, nothing else, until AFTER the propylene glycol is gone. Otherwise you cause biggers problems that what you already have.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:34 AM   #9
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propylene glycol

I used RV antifreeze and just read the label and it says "non-toxic" but not for use as a potable water additive. I assume they mean do not add it and use it.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:26 AM   #10
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You are okay. Next Spring, as others have said, flush, flush, and flush some more with clean. potable H2O.
There is no health hazard to deal with when you use RV antifreeze, just the unpleasant taste in your drinking water and a tacky feel after showering.
This is why I use compressed air to empty the supply lines and only use antifreeze in the P-traps.
You did put pink stuff in the P-traps?
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shivtik View Post
dznf09, Do Not use bleach with ethylene or propylene glycol. ...The shortcomings lead to secondary constituents caused by mixing the two. .... and can in some circumstances cause problems with the solubility behavior. (i.e. cleaning or flushing, rapid heating and potential rapid volume expansion).
So now do I have to worry about my FW tank exploding in the spring along with the entire trailer going up because I run with the fridge working? I might just stay home next year.

Just flush the system as everyone has suggested. One time on my SOB I accidentally ran just a little of the pink stuff into my HW heater as I was dewinterizing. I drained it right away and flushed it out but it took a very long time to completely get the smell out of the hot water. I was surprised to say the least. It might have something to do with the metal in the HW tank but it was a challenge.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:59 AM   #12
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I never use that pink stuff. If it is so good why not serve it with dinner.

It takes 2 half gallons of cheap Vodka to service my system. Come spring just add OJ and clean the system out. All the years I have been doing this in boats and RVs I have never had a problem.
Save the pink stuff for the drains.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Just flush the system as everyone has suggested. One time on my SOB I accidentally ran just a little of the pink stuff into my HW heater as I was dewinterizing. I drained it right away and flushed it out but it took a very long time to completely get the smell out of the hot water. I was surprised to say the least. It might have something to do with the metal in the HW tank but it was a challenge.
If it happens again, try leaving the heating element turned off and just run cold water through it until the odor is gone. Heating the antifreeze is probably what caused the smell to persist.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:16 AM   #14
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So now do I have to worry about my FW tank exploding in the spring along with the entire trailer going up because I run with the fridge working? I might just stay home next year.

Just flush the system as everyone has suggested. One time on my SOB I accidentally ran just a little of the pink stuff into my HW heater as I was dewinterizing. I drained it right away and flushed it out but it took a very long time to completely get the smell out of the hot water. I was surprised to say the least. It might have something to do with the metal in the HW tank but it was a challenge.

No, you don't have to worry about a lot of hydrogen gassing and plumbing damage...IF you follow what I say in my first post. I NEVER suggested putting Clorox in WITH the antifreeze. I said to sterilize the system with Clorox AFTER flushing well with clear water. If the flushing is done correctly and completely any minute AF left would be so dilute so as to be virtually non-existent. I addition, the Clorox is being diluted to a few cups in 63 gallons of water. I have used this process for 3 decades and never had any gassing, ill effects, nor any plumbing issues of any kind.

That being said....DON't mix Clorox with the high concentrations of AF in your lines proir to flushing well with clkear water.
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