In today’s post, we discuss the different types of water softener salt you could use with your traditional water softener. Find out which salt for water softener is the best option for your home, health, and the environment. We’ve also got some great tips on how to maintain your water softener system, together with some answers to users’ most important questions.
Water Softener Salt: What is It?
Water softeners are expensive pieces of equipment so it’s essential that you treat them right. You wouldn’t run an expensive car on knock-off gas now would you?
There are various types of salt available for water softeners. In this guide, we’ll give the lowdown on each type, together with the pros and cons.
We’ll also discuss some helpful tips on water softener maintenance.
Before we begin, we have to clarify a couple of things, however. The first is that water softener salt is a product you will use with a traditional salt-based water softener. A salt-free water softener employs different technologies to solve the hard water issues in your home. Moreover, a water descaler does not use any type of salts (or tanks for that matter), relying on electricity to break down the hardness minerals in your water.
In case you want to learn more about how water softeners work, which are the best options for your limescale problems, and how to choose the best water softening system (with or without water softener salt), check out this guide here! You will find plenty of information on these systems, brands, softener installation, and more!
What Is the Best Water Softener Salt on the Market?
Before we go any further it’s important to get one thing clear. This may seem obvious but we’ve been asked about this before. A water softener can only use special salt that has been specially designed for this type of use. That means absolutely no table salt or any other kind.
There are in fact two types of salt for water softener that you can use. These are sodium chloride and potassium chloride salts.
Both are naturally occurring minerals, but there are some differences in the way we harvest them for mass production. There are also differences in what they offer to you.
A softener works by replacing the soft water minerals (magnesium and calcium) in water with either sodium or potassium. This means the type of salt you use will affect what is in your water.
Next, we’ll compare the two salts according to the things that matter. We’ve decided on four categories to make this easier.
This is the most important factor for a lot of people. Especially those of you with large homes that use a lot of salt. Sodium chloride is the clear winner here and retails at lower prices than potassium chloride does. This is due to the fact that it is much easier to harvest.
Sodium chloride actually ranges in price too, according to how it is harvested and its purity. The more environmentally friendly methods are usually more labor intensive and costly.
Potassium chloride is the clear winner here. Using sodium chloride produces sodium-rich wastewater which can be harmful to the environment.
Potassium on the other hand, is an important nutrient for plants and flowers.
There isn’t much between the two here. The performance really depends on the purity of the salt. The best salt for water softeners will have a higher purity level. A salt that is 99.9% pure will perform better than a 99.6% salt.
Sodium should be avoided by those with high blood pressure. We should really limit our sodium intake, but a little sodium in our diet is necessary. Potassium on the other hand is a healthy mineral that is beneficial to our bodies.
The best water softener salt depends on what is most important to you. As far as cost goes, then you are better with sodium chloride water softener salt. If you’re able to be a bit more liberal with your money then potassium chloride has environmental and health benefits.
The Most Popular Brands of Water Softener Salt
Here’s a list of some of the best salt for water softeners. We’ve included both sodium and potassium chloride options.
Morton Clean and Protect II Water Softening Pellets
This salt is engineered by Morton, who specializes in salts of all kinds. They actually manufacture water softeners too, so they know a thing or two about what works. When it comes to getting the best water softener salt, you can trust Morton to deliver some of the best products on the market.
A special cleaning additive is added to the sodium chloride salt pellets. This helps to maintain the efficiency of the system by reducing iron build up. It also serves to prolong the life of the water softener. Morton also produces a high purity solar salt. This solar salt is produced in a totally natural way using evaporated sea water.
For more information about Morton’s water softener, check out this guide here. You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that this particular water softener features smart, money-saving technology, uses less salt in comparison to other softeners on the market, and sports a very compelling price!
If you want to learn more about Morton salt, we recommend you to check out our guide on Diamond Crystal vs. Morton Water Softener Salt comparison. You will learn more about this Morton water softener salt and the Diamond Crystal one we will discuss in the following moments.
Diamond Crystal Potassium Chloride Water Softener Salt
This Diamond Crystal water softener salt is made with up to 99.1% pure potassium chloride. It works just the same as the regular sodium chloride salt, but brings with it the benefits of potassium. Potassium is better for our bodies and the environment. However, it is more expensive.
Where Is the Best Place to Buy Water Softener Salt?
Lowe’s is among the cheapest places to buy water softener salt. If you have a store nearby then picking the bags up yourself is the best and cheapest option.
If your mobility or your location prevents this then online stores like Amazon will deliver to your doorstep. However, be prepared to pay a bit more.
Water Softener Maintenance Tips
Now that we saw together the necessary information on water softener salt, let’s discuss some water softener maintenance tips so you manage as good as possible the functioning of such a system. Make sure your unit stays efficient and avoid expensive repairs by following these top tips.
Make sure you use a high-quality salt. That means a salt that has a high purity level. Try to avoid the cheaper rock salts as they contain impurities that can clog up the system and affect its performance. Check out our guide on water softener salts’ comparison for a deeper understanding of what your water softener needs.
Check for salt layers forming. These layers of salt can prevent new salt from mixing with the water below. Remove the salt crusts whenever they form.
If you find that they are forming regularly, then you are using too much salt. You could also clean the brine tank to improve the efficiency of the system.
You should clean the resin beads around once a year. You can use a quality resin tank cleaner like this.
Clean the brine tank around once a year too. You can do this with soap or bleach.
Check the nozzle and valves between the two tanks. These can be disassembled and cleaned too. Make sure you relieve the pressure with the bypass valve before attempting this.
Make sure that you’re using the most efficient and worthwhile regeneration setting for your home. Using a setting that isn’t suited to the water usage in your home could potentially waste a lot of money.
If a problem with your softener can’t be fixed with any of these tips then don’t be hasty and replace an expensive unit. Getting it repaired by a specialist will cost a fraction of what a new unit will.
Water Softener Salt: Frequently Asked Questions
Since we are talking about maintenance and you cannot have a traditional water softener work without water softener salt, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to common household issues you may encounter!
What If Water Softener Runs Out of Salt?
As we said in our guide on best water softeners on the market, you should remember to top the layer of salt with new pellets every 2 months, depending on the water softener type you have. However, if the system runs out of salt, you will not have soft water anymore. To solve the issue, add the necessary quantity of salt in the tank, run the system, and wait for 2-3 days. It usually takes more than a regeneration cycle to have softened water throughout your entire house again.
How Often Do You Need to Add Salt to a Water Softener?
If you wonder how long does salt last in a water softener, the answer is about eight weeks. However, as we said before, it all depends on the system you have. The amount of salt you have to use depends on the hardness of water, the amount of water used, and the frequency of regeneration. If you have the answers to these questions, you need to check the salt level in the brine tank frequently. A way to learn whether you need to replace the salt – in case the system does not come with a level indicator of its own -, is to look inside the brine tank and see where the water is. If you see water above the salt, it is time for you to replenish the system with more.
Can You Add Too Much Salt to a Water Softener?
In fact, yes. Start on the premise that an averaged-size water softener of 30,000-grain needs about 6-8 pounds of salt for every regeneration cycle. The more salt you add, the higher the chances for the salt to “bridge” and solidify. This buildup prevents your water softener to function properly.
Water Softener Salt Guide: Bottom Line
Before you buy a water softener, make sure you check out our ultimate guide on how water softeners work, what are the best models on the market, how to install and maintain such systems, and so on. We reviewed the top models and discussed the key things you need to look for before you purchase such a system and its accessories.
If you have any questions then send us a message or comment below.
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What tank do you put the water softener pellets in?
I have two questions 1. Does potassium chloride make the water “taste funny”? 2. Will it disrupt our aerobic septic tank system by killing off all the good bacteria that controls odor? (Aerobic system sprays amongst Post Oak trees and grass I don’t want to harm).
I have a few questions and thought I’d ask you:
1) I don’t want the discharge to enter my leech field. I’m thinking of installing a sump with a pump to raise the water to an evaporation container above the basement floor, or use Potassium Chloride and discharge outdoors with the gray water. Your thoughts?
2) we’ve now gone through 5 dishwashers in the last 12 years or so. I purchased warranties on all of them so I wouldn’t be paying for new dishwashers so frequently. I’ve just purchased another – the soap (regardless of which one we use) is caking/adhering to all the interior walls and parts of the dishwasher, and leading to premature failure. It seems there is some mineral in the water that may be combining with the soap that is coating everything. Is a water softener, or a descaler, the better option?
3) Something seems to be reducing the flow rate in all of the lines in the house. There is no iron, and it doesn’t present as lime scale (not to mention there is no limestone in the area here on the plains east of Denver). We are on a deep well (static level 300′) and the water is generally very good. Pressure from the pressure tank is good, but the water filter ahead of the pressure tank clogged within 30 days of installation, so I bypassed it years ago. Are you familiar with anything that may be coating the interior of the water lines to reduce pressure at the faucets?
Looking forward to hearing from you …
Thank you for explaining that the performance of a 99.9% pure salt will be better than 99.6% pure salt. I’ve been thinking of buying a water softener because the water in my home tastes gross and is full of hard minerals. I will make sure to buy the best performance of salt I can.