How to Store Coolant Safely

Coolant/antifreeze is an essential fluid which regulates the temperature of your engine to keep it protected. We’d always recommend having a bottle of quality coolant/antifreeze to hand for instances where you need to drain the reservoir to change the fluid, or top up the cooling system when the fluid level is low.

Of course, how you store engine fluids such as coolant/antifreeze is important, because they’re toxic so can be harmful if poorly handled and stored. Coolant/antifreeze is particularly dangerous due to its sweet smell, meanings animals and children can mistake it for something nice, so it’s vital that the fluid is stored safely and handled with care and precaution.

In this guide, we offer practical tips on how to store and safely handle engine coolant, and outline the measures we take to ensure our coolant/antifreeze stays out of the wrong hands.

The Problem with Coolant/Antifreeze

engine coolant label engine

All engine fluids should be stored and handled safely to avoid coming into contact with children, animals and the environment. Generally, the scent of fluids such as engine oil, brake fluid and screen wash is such that animals and young kids will be put off drinking or touching it – but the same can’t be said of some coolant/antifreeze fluids.

Many coolant/antifreeze formulas contain ethylene glycol, which replaced methanol in modern antifreeze products due to its lower toxicity, higher boiling point and lower freezing point. However, ethylene glycol is poisonous to humans and animals, and is easily ingested due to its sweet smell and taste.

One of the main reasons why ethylene glycol is so dangerous is that, once it’s been ingested, it can be difficult to detect in the body, with symptoms often being confused with other illnesses. Drinking even small quantities of the fluid can cause death by kidney failure up to 72 hours after the initial poisoning, making it absolutely vital that coolant/antifreeze is kept out of harm’s way.

While coolant/antifreeze should be kept well away from children, it’s more dangerous to pets such as cats and dogs, who may be attracted to the sweet scent and ingest the fluid without your knowledge – particularly if it’s been spilt on the floor. Every year, hundreds of cats and dogs die because of ingesting antifreeze, with most falling victim when licking their paws after stepping in a pool of the fluid that’s been caused by a leaky cooling system.

Is There a Solution to Coolant/Antifreeze Poisoning?

refilling antifreeze jug

While coolant/antifreeze is poisonous in any form, including new propylene glycol formulas, there are ways to make it less attractive to animals and young children, reducing the threat of ingestion and poisoning.

At Prestone, we add a bitter taste to our coolant/antifreeze formula. Known as Bitrex, this additive gives a really bitter taste and makes it less sweet, to discourage children and animals from consuming it without affecting the performance of the product.

Tips on How to Store and Handle Coolant/Antifreeze

storing antifreeze shelves

Now that we’ve covered off the dangers of coolant/antifreeze, it’s time to look at the precautions you can take to make sure it’s properly stored and handled. Below, we list practical steps on the correct handling of cooling system fluid.

  • Keep the product in its original packaging – While it may be necessary to decant coolant/antifreeze into a jug for easy pouring into the reservoir, you should keep the fluid in its original packaging the rest of the time so everyone knows what it is. Remember – a high-quality coolant such as Prestone is supplied in an easy-pour bottle, for complete safety and ease of use.
  • Retain the product’s safety information – In cases where a child or animal has ingested coolant/antifreeze, make sure you have the original product safety information to hand, including the list of ingredients. This will help medical staff and vets make an accurate diagnosis, and suggest the correct treatment.
  • Store in a hard-to-reach place with the lid on tight – Whether in a garage, shed or cupboard at home, store coolant in a difficult-to-reach area and always make sure the lid is on tight and the child safety lock is working.
  • Take extra care when pouring into the reservoir – If the coolant/antifreeze you’re using is in a poorly-designed bottle, use a funnel to prevent any leaks on to the floor, and wipe the bottle after use.
  • What if the cooling system is leaking? – If your car has a cooling system leak, you might get a puddle of fluid under the car, and this can be consumed by animals. In this case, swill the coolant away with plenty of fresh water, and remember to wipe any fluid off from beneath the car.
  • Label all fluids when in storage – Packaging can deteriorate over time, so always make sure you label vehicle fluids properly so you can easily identify them – you don’t want to start adding screenwash to the cooling system.
  • Dispose of packaging and waste fluid responsibly – Due to their toxicity, fluids and their containers should be recycled carefully. Plastic containers should be disposed of in the hazardous waste bin at your local tip, while waste fluids such as coolant and engine oil can often be taken to a local mechanic, who will recycle them for you.

At Prestone, our advanced coolant/antifreeze products are developed to perform at extreme temperatures between +129°C and -37°C. They also benefit from an embittering additive that discourages accidental ingestion, and an easy-pour bottle design that makes for quick, easy and safe use. To find out more, visit the Prestone homepage.