Different types of water softening salts and how to choose (2023)

In order for the water softener to work effectively, it is necessary to use the correct salt for a particular unit.

In this article, we will explain what a softening salt is, give an overview of the different types of softening salts on the market, and help you decide which type of salt to use for your appliance.

What is water softening salt?

Traditional water softening salt is usually made from sodium chloride (NaCl) and is used to regenerate and purify the water softening resin that softens hard water. However, there are also less common salt varieties, such as potassium chloride, and the even rarer and less effective magnesium chloride.

Different types of water softening salts and how to choose (1)

Why is water softening salt important?

Water softening salt plays an important role in the regeneration of the softener.

To present the full spectrum of its importance, let us summarize the operation of a softener:

Hard watercontains large amounts of metals, especially calcium and magnesium, which can accumulate in household plumbing, clogging and reducing the efficiency of devices such aswashing machineand leave lime deposits on surfaces. A softener removes these metals from the water in a process known asion exchangeby achieving itsofter and easier to use.

In this process, when the water flows throughwater softening resin, positively charged particles of minerals such as calcium and magnesium are attracted, trapped and replaced by negatively charged particles of sodium or potassium.

But after some time the resin becomes saturated with metals and the sodium content begins to drop drastically. This is where water softening salt comes into play in a programmed process known asregeneration cycle. Before the minerals begin to saturate the resin, a solution of salt in water is preparedbrine tankThe softeners automatically move throughout the system, washing away the accumulated minerals in the resin and filling it with new salt-rich sodium or potassium molecules.

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This must be done to ensure proper system operationadd salt to your fabric softener every four to six weeks. However, this ultimately depends on the device manufacturer's recommendations primarily based onhardness levelyour water supply.

Water softening salt ingredients

As we have established above,Water softening salt is often made with sodium chloride or potassium chloride as the main ingredients.

There are also rare cases where manufacturers use magnesium chloride to soften water, but there is very little research on its effectiveness. Additionally, since magnesium is one of the minerals that contribute to water hardness, we do not recommend its use in home softening systems.

Sodium Chloride (NaCl)

Sodium chloride is the most common ingredient in water softening salt and is very similar to regular table salt.

The only difference between sodium chloride and regular table salt is that sodium chloride water softener is treated to remove contaminants such as dirt and clay, making it a cleaner form of salt. The reason it is treated is that mineral residues present in common salt, although safe for human consumption, are more likely to clog the lines and pipes in the brine tank when the salt dissolves in the water.

But while sodium chloride is the most common type of salt used to soften water, its use in fabric softeners is not without controversy. As brine produced from this type of salt is often washed away during regeneration cycles, this has a negative impact on the environment.Water high in sodium is not good for plantsand soil salinization can cause serious long-term problems such as soil degradation and erosion.

Finally, while the presence of sodium in softened water is rarely at alarming levels, it is best for those withcardiovascular problemsavoid salt intake as much as possible, especially by those with pre-existing heart diseasesodium increases the risk of stroke.

potassium chloride (KCl)

potassium chlorideincreased use as water softening salt has been observed due to sodium's impact on the environment and human health. However, it is a less effective water softening salt than sodium chloride, so it will be more expensive in the long run as you have to use it more and more often. While generally a healthier alternative to NaCl, people withhyperkaliæmi(who have high levels of potassium in their blood) need to limit their potassium intake, so potassium chloride would not be an ideal choice for them.

Types of water softening salts

There are several types of salt water softeners on the market, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Salt pellets are the most common type, but some manufacturers recommend using a different type of salt.


  • Salt pellets:Salt granules are like salt cubes that are treated to get rid of impurities and then compressed. This is the most common type of water softening salt because the surface of the beads is best suited for making a brine solution, there is no residue to clog the system and it is less likely to formsalt brotherinside the brine tank.
  • Blok soli:Just like salt granules, salt blocks are also processed and pressed. But while pellets are small cubes, they are huge blocks that can weigh up to 50 pounds. Their size makes salt blocks more difficult to dissolve than salt granules when making brine. So the salt block may not clean and recharge the softener resin as effectively as salt pellets. In addition, most modern water softeners have an electronic system that measures the amount of salt in the brine tank. These systems sometimes work when there is a lump of salt in the tank.
  • Solar salt crystals:The sun's salt crystals are formed by evaporation of salty seawater by exposing it to sun and wind. Depending on the manufacturer, the salt crystals may be cleaned of residue. However, because solar salt is in a crystalline form, its fine particles may be too small to be used in fabric softeners.

What salt should I use?

The type of salt you should use depends on the type of fabric softener you have and the manufacturer's recommendations. Most manufacturers such asRheemIKineticoproduce their own water softening salt. Since they usually test their devices on their own salt, they recommend this and are likely to provide optimal performance.

That said, our final recommendation is to use salt granules in water softeners, as salt granules are specifically made to increase the efficiency of the regeneration process in water softeners. In addition, they rarely cause problems with the softener, such as salt bridges etcstanding water in the brine tankfrom youmaintain the softening system properly.

Please note that under no circumstances should you pour common table salt or rock salt used to melt ice into the fabric softener brine tank. Since these types of salts are rarely purified or cleansed of impurities, they can easily clog the system. Additionally, since they are not as pure as water softening salts, they will not be as effective and can even render the entire water softening system ineffective quite quickly.

Of course, as we mentioned above, people suffering from cardiovascular problems should limit their sodium intake, so it is recommended that they only use potassium chloride in their supplements.

Similarly, people with high blood potassium levels should avoid using potassium chloride.

For people who want neither potassium nor sodium in their diet, there are other types of softening solutions.Salt-free water conditionerwhich uses a technology known as matrix-assisted crystallization orwater purifierswhich operates on the electromagnetic principle, is an effective alternative to traditional salt-based water softening techniques. Finally, remember that the use of sodium chloride in fabric softeners is prohibitedsome states. Please check your local regulations before purchasing salt for your device.

Is the softener running out of salt?

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No, water softening salt does not have an expiration date. However, when exposed to moisture, the beads or crystals can clump together and reduce the effectiveness of the salt. In addition, salt must be packed and sealed to prevent contact with contaminants. Eventually, its particles will end up in your drinking water, so it's best to keep it as sterile as possible.

Is water softening salt safe for pets?

Water softening salt is genericit is not safe for pets. Ingestion of salt can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets. If you think your pet has swallowed salt, contact your veterinarian immediately. Even small amounts of sodium can worsen heart and kidney problems in dogs. However, potassium chloride water softener is safe for dogs because it does not contain sodium.

Can we use common salt to soften the water?

You cannot use common salt to soften the water. Common salt dissolves very quickly, making water softening much less effective and potentially accelerating the build-up of minerals in the softener. In addition, common salt is rarely as pure as salt designed and processed for use in softening stations. By pouring common salt into the brine tank, you risk clogging the entire system's lines and pipes.

Is salt in a fabric softener the same as salt?

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No, it's not the same. You canuse water softening salt to melt the ice on the road, but salt cannot be used in the water softening system. As we said above, salt is not processed. In particular, the varieties used to melt ice contain metals and waste from which they were extracted, so adding salt to a softener is tantamount to putting the entire system at risk.

Is dishwashing salt the same as water softening salt?

Although dish salt may differ from water softening salt in grain thickness and grain size, their composition and purpose are the same. Most dishwashers have a built-in water softening resin that prevents calcium and magnesium from affecting the quality of the dishwasher, and dishwashing salt is used to clean and regenerate this resin.
However, the grain size of dish salt is smaller than the salt grains commonly used in water softeners. So if your water softener is designed for salt granules and you put dish salt in it, the granules can come out and clog your system's lines and pipes. So although they are the same in essence and purpose, we do not recommend using the two types of salt interchangeably.

Can I use water softening salt in my bath?

Yes, you can use water softening salt in your bath, but we do not recommend it as it does not soften the water in the bath and there are some risks associated with regular salt water bathing.
Water softening salt does not itself have softening properties. It simply cleans and charges the water softening resin that actually softens the water.
Also thoughSalt water can remove dead skin cellsand thus make your skin smoother, it can also cause ithyperpigmentation. Plus, if you already have skin conditions like acne and eczema, it will make your irritation worse.


Water softening salt cleans and regenerates the water softening resin, which attracts and holds positively charged mineral particles and replaces them with negatively charged sodium or potassium particles.

It can be in the form of salt balls, salt blocks or solar salt crystals. The type of salt to use depends on the appliance manufacturer's recommendations, which are usually adapted to the appliance's specifications and water hardness.

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Different types of water softening salts and how to choose? ›

The salt you choose for your water softener is an important decision that impacts your softener's performance and longevity. Selecting a lower-quality salt could cause costly problems and negatively impact your water quality. Remember: Cheaper is not necessarily better regarding water softener salt.

Does it matter what salt you put in your water softener? ›

The salt you choose for your water softener is an important decision that impacts your softener's performance and longevity. Selecting a lower-quality salt could cause costly problems and negatively impact your water quality. Remember: Cheaper is not necessarily better regarding water softener salt.

How do I know which water softener to buy? ›

Multiply the water hardness by the water usage in the home to determine what size water softener is needed.. For example, a home that uses 225 gallons of water per day with a water hardness of 10 grains per gallon requires a water softener with a capacity of 2,250 grains per day.

Which is better softener salt pellets or crystals? ›

Pellets Are More Efficient Than Crystals

The pellets are definitely superior when it comes to salt pellets vs. salt crystals. Although they're pricier than their crystal counterparts, they can be used as-is without further processing.

How long does a 40 lb bag of water softener salt last? ›

While the average family will go through a 40 lb bag about once a month or so, your amount will vary. Another factor to consider is how often your water softener regenerates; if it's nightly, then the average family may go through a 40lb bag every 10 to 14 days.

How many pounds of salt should my water softener use? ›

For a properly sized water softener system, the industry standard for an average family of four, (with a water hardness level of 7-10 grains per gallon) will use approximately 10lbs of salt each week or one 40lbs bag of salt each month.


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