If you’ve already had a water softener installed, you’ll already be well aware of how tricky it can be to find the best salt.
If you haven’t had a water softener installed yet, you better be prepared for the task ahead.
Finding the best salt for your water softener is like picking the best salt for cooking.
When we wander down the condiments aisle at the local grocery store, we’re faced with pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, iodized salt, and many more.
This variety of options can quickly become overwhelming. This is exactly how it can feel looking for salt for a water softener (see also ‘ Leaking Water Softener? Reasons And Solutions ‘).
There are an array of options available, but nobody really knows how they are different or what makes one better than another.
Today, we’ll help you change this.
We will take you through each type of salt you should use for your water softener and how they can be the best choice.
If this sounds like something that can help you, make sure you stick around!
Table of Contents
How Salts Are Used In Our Water Softener Systems
Before we start looking at the best salts available for our water softener systems, let’s take a look at what they do.
Water softeners are designed to convert hard water into much friendlier soft water.
This is done through a process called ion exchange.
The water we use from the city usually contains much higher levels of positive ions that are found in magnesium and calcium.
These positively charged ions can cause laundry stains, dry skin, soap scum, and calcium buildup.
The water softener contains negative resin beds and the salts that happen to contain positively charged ions that have soft water properties such as potassium and sodium.
When the water passes through the system, calcium and magnesium are switched for potassium and sodium.
This change lets the soft water run through your home. Eventually, the system will start to run out of sodium.
At this point, more salts will have to be added to ensure the water continues to be softened.
The Best Salts For Your Water Softener
We can now start to look at the best types of salt to use in your water softener system.
When it comes to water softener systems, there are three main salts you can choose between.
These salts are solar salt, evaporated salt, and rock salt.
While these types of salts all do a great job when it comes to affecting the performance of your water softener, they all have different chemical properties that change the way in which they work.
To give you a better understanding of these salts, we have detailed each one below.
You might already know solar salt by its more popular name which is sea salt.
This type of salt is the result of seawater that naturally evaporated thanks to the sun.
As the seawater starts to dry up and evaporate, it leaves crystalline sea salt behind.
This salt is then used for a variety of different things.
As solar salt is extremely pure, 99.6% to be exact, most water softener systems can benefit.
The reason for this is that thanks to this salt’s purity, it dissolves a lot easier and faster than other salts.
This can prevent the clumping and salt bridges that can build up in the tank.
However, solar salt can also have a negative impact on some systems.
Some systems don’t recommend the use of solar salt as it can contain contaminants.
These contaminants can cause irreversible damage to the water softener or lead to maintenance problems.
When it comes to costs, evaporated salt is usually the most expensive type of salt you can buy for your water softener.
Having said that, we must say, it is worth every single cent. This type of salt has a much different appearance from other salts you will be used to.
It actually comes in the form of small cubes or pellets.
These pellets or cubes are perfect for dissolving the salt in the respect that the salt dissolves more efficiently and evenly throughout the system.
Another huge advantage of evaporated salt is that it is the purest type of salt available. As a result, you won’t have to worry about any contaminants.
Therefore, you shouldn’t experience any blockages or expensive maintenance issues with your water softener.
If you’re looking for one of the best types of salt, but also one of the cheapest, rock salt is your best option.
Rock salt is the cheapest type of salt you can buy for your water softener.
While it does a very good job, when compared to the other types of salt, it is very much a case of you getting what you pay for.
Rock salt is typically extracted from salt concentrates found underground.
This means that it can occasionally be contaminated with other minerals and deposits like calcium sulfate. Calcium sulfate can be very problematic, hampering the water softeners’ ability to dissolve salts.
This can quite easily lead to maintenance issues and clogging problems.
Rock salt may be the more economical option, but in the long run, you might be safer choosing a different option.
Every one of these water softener salts uses sodium chloride. This is the most common compound used in regard to water softeners.
While we most like to recommend water softener owners to use evaporated salts, you do also have the option to choose between a potassium chlorate evaporated salt and sodium chloride.
We will look at the difference between the two in the next part of this post.
How Are Potassium And Sodium Chloride Different?
While both types of chloride are absolutely fine to use in a water softener system, a lot of people get confused when they see potassium chloride pellets on the shelf.
Potassium chloride is an almost sodium-free, sodium chloride alternative.
Despite sodium chloride still being the cheaper option and one most people choose, some people might actually prefer to use potassium chloride pellets instead.
The main reason for this is that potassium chloride has so little sodium in it.
This is great for any water softener owners who want to keep an eye on or reduce their sodium intake.
This can help improve certain health conditions and assist people trying to meet specific dietary requirements.
While this may sound great, it is worth noting that potassium chloride pellets cost easily five times more than sodium chloride pellets.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, you will also have to use more of the potassium chloride pellets in your softener system than you would with the sodium chloride pellets.
This makes things very expensive and more often than not, not justifiable.
When it comes down to the bottom line, the best salt you can use in your water softening system is sodium chloride evaporated pellets.
Despite being more expensive than rock salt and solar salt, these pellets are much more effective than other types of salt and ensure you won’t need to do as much maintenance when keeping your water softener running perfectly.
The sodium chloride evaporated pellets are also more efficient and cheaper than potassium chloride evaporated pellets.
However, families trying to cut down on their sodium intake might still prefer potassium chloride.
Now you have this knowledge, we recommend looking for a brand that uses this type of salt.
You might even want to try solar salt and rock salt to see what you think as they are still the more affordable option and work well to get the job done.
Overall though, we definitely recommend looking for a sodium chloride evaporated salt.