Spring is rapidly approaching—a development that turns thoughts to maintenance and de-winterizing our boats. But even though it might seem like common sense to avoid, every year hundreds of boaters dispose of the antifreeze that protected their motors and holding tanks during winter’s coldest months by dumping it into Lake Ontario. Or, just as bad, into storm sewers where it drains back into the waterways.
I have gathering some facts regarding antifreeze toxicity and how to dispose of it properly.
“Pink or Plumber’s/RV antifreeze is safe.”
Using propylene ethyl or RV/Plumber’s antifreeze (the safer pink- or blue-colored type of antifreeze) it’s still a dangerous, toxic substance that can contribute to fish kills.
Although propylene glycol (pink, blue or clear) anti-freeze is safer, it still can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life, especially when multiple boats flush their engines and holding tanks near boat docks, which are close to the spawning grounds of many species of fish. Waste anti-freeze also can contain heavy metals or fuel from engines that can classify it as hazardous waste.
I know the majority of our members now work hard to flush and remove their engine water cooling system before launch. Have you considered the fresh water system as well?
Anti-freeze Collection and Disposal Tips
- Check your bilge and clean out any oil if present with a bilge pillow or absorbent pad.
Remove the water intake hose from the through hull or raw water filter –whichever is most convenient. Place this hose into a large bucket of fresh water or attach to a water source.
- Have a friend hold a bucket to catch the anti-freeze as it exits the engine beneath the water/exhaust port. Have another 5 gallon bucket ready to switch the hose when the first bucket is full if required.
- Turn on the water (if connected) or immerse the hose and start your engine. Collect the water and anti-freeze mix in the bucket(s), and then let the remaining water drain on the ground until the engine is up to temperature.
- Turn off the engine and water. Reconnect the raw water intake hose. My system involves 3 of us; 1 on the throttle, another holding the hose in the intake water bucket and a third holding the bucket under the exhaust/water discharge port. Fellow members are a good source of knowledge on a system too.
- Dispose of the diluted anti-freeze in the tank beside the Workshop clearly marked Antifreeze.
Freshwater Holding Tank (New!)
I have never done this but realized last year there is more antifreeze in the fresh water system than the engine! Oops.
- Connect a hose to the sink faucet or place a funnel with a hose attached under the faucet and place the other end into a 5 gallon bucket.
- Turn on the faucet and start filling the bucket.
- Collect the anti-freeze until the water runs clear.
- Dispose in the same manner as above. While this is inconvenient it is no harder than taking engine oil to the Tank. .
Sewage Holding Tank
In spring use the head as usual and pump out when needed. This anti-freeze and sewage mix will go directly to a sewage treatment plant.
Thanks for taking a little time and effort to keep our waters clean and to protect fish spawning grounds.
Contact me with any questions at email@example.com or 647-963-2124
Geoff Hadrill, Chair Environment Committee