Exploring the Salt For Your Water Softener

Whether you’ve just bought a new water softener or have been using a softener device for a while, once the salt in the brine tank runs low, you’ll need to consider that salt you’ll need to use to refill it. When you begin to look at softener salt, you may be surprised at the number of available options. From rocks and blocks to crystals and pellets, you may find yourself overwhelmed and struggle to determine which is the best one. You may even consider whether you should stick to salt or switch to potassium chloride. So, let’s cut through the confusion a little to explore the topic of water softener salt.

Your Salt Options sb10067655by-001

If you think sticking with basic sodium chloride will make your salt choice easy, you’re mistaken. Softener salt is usually available in several types; block salt, rocks, pellets or crystals. Block salt is usually only recommended by water treatment technicians in very limited circumstances. You’ll also need to raise the level of your brine water tank to allow the block to be fully submerged.

Rock salt looks almost like pebbles or small rocks and is a cheaper option. Unfortunately, rock salt doesn’t dissolve very well and tends to contain high levels of calcium sulfate that can create maintenance issues.

There are a number of different types of salt pellets, and these tend to be less expensive when compared to potassium pellets. Solar pellets are made with evaporated sea water. This is more soluble compared to a rock salt product, but it is not the most effective form of salt, particularly with very high water hardness levels. Evaporated pellets generally offer the highest purity, but they are also the most expensive. A 99.9% purity pellet will reduce the risk of performance problems and the development of repair issues. You will find that evaporated pellets create less chance of “bridging” or “mushing” that requires frequent tank cleaning.

Crystals are very effective, but they are the most costly salt option. Crystals are recommended with two part softening systems and should only be used if you have a low monthly water usage.

Sodium or Potassium Chloride?

Just as you’ve started to make a decision, you’ll need to think about whether you want to stick to sodium chloride or switch to potassium chloride. Potassium chloride can be used to regenerate softener resin in place of sodium chloride. It is 99.9% free from sodium, so it may be preferable if you need to reduce your sodium intake.

Potassium chloride is only typically available as pellets, and it can be difficult to find. Additionally, potassium pellets tend to be more expensive. If you are switching to potassium chloride, you may need to increase your softener dosage settings by as much as 10% for proper resin regeneration.

If you’re unsure about the kind of salt you need to top up your water softener, you should speak to your water treatment professional. An experienced technician can assess your system and recommend the salt products that are well suited to your specific needs.

By Mark Williams (NicMar President Mark Williams holds degrees in Applied Science and Industrial Thermodynamics, along with Agricultural Mechanization and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University.  He also holds the highest possible industry ranking, being WQA (Water Quality Association) LEVEL 6 Certified.)


Print Friendly
Nicmar Water
999 Baltimore Road York SpringsPA17372 USA 
 • 800-542-8649

Water Solution Center

Educational Center