When walking down the baking aisle of your local grocery store, you are likely to come across dozens of different types of salt that serve a variety of purposes in cooking. There’s iodized salt, kosher salt, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, and more. All of these options can feel utterly overwhelming to any home cook.
The same is true when it comes to salts you purchase for your home’s water softening system. There are several types and forms available, and most people aren’t sure how they differ and which is best. Today we will talk about why the type of water softener salt you use matters, and how you can make the best choice for your home’s water softener.
How Are Salts Used in Water Softeners?
Water softeners convert hard water into softer water through a process called ion exchange. City water tends to contain high amounts of positively charged ions from minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can cause lots of household issues like soap scum, laundry stains, calcium buildup, and dry skin. Water softeners contain negatively charged resin beds and salts that contain positively charged ions with soft water properties, like sodium and potassium. When city water or well water runs through your water softener, magnesium and calcium are swapped with sodium and potassium in the resin beds, and this soft water is then used throughout your home.
Eventually, your water softener will run low on sodium or potassium in its resin bed, and you will have to add more salts to ensure that your water continues to be softened efficiently and effectively.
What Types of Salts Are Available For Water Softeners?
When it comes to salts that are usable in your water softener, there are three primary types of salts on the market today: solar salt, rock salt, and evaporated salt. They vary in chemical makeup, processing, and the shape of the final product, and these factors affect how they might perform in your water softening system. Let’s investigate each of these in a bit more detail.
Solar salt: Solar salt is the result of seawater that is naturally evaporated by the sun. When the seawater itself dries up, crystalline solar salt is left behind, and it is used for a variety of purposes. Solar salt is highly pure (99.6%), and it dissolves more easily and readily than other types of salt. Some types of water softening systems can benefit from the use of solar salt, especially those that experience salt clumping in their tank. When it comes to Kinetico water softening systems, solar salt is not recommended because it may still contain contaminants that can damage your water softener and lead to avoidable maintenance issues.
Rock salt: Rock salt is the cheapest type of salt available for water softeners, and in this case you get what you pay for. Rock salt is extracted from underground salt concentrates, meaning that it is frequently contaminated with other deposits like the problematic calcium sulfite. Calcium sulfite hampers your water softener’s ability to dissolve these salts, which can lead to frequent clogs and other maintenance nightmares. Purchasing rock salt may seem like the economical choice upfront, but it will end up costing more in repairs in the long run.
Evaporated salt: Evaporated salt tends to be the most expensive type of salt for your water softeners, but it is well worth every penny. Evaporated salt comes in the shape of pellets or cubes, which is ideal for dissolving these salts evenly and efficiently. This type of salt is also the purest form available, so you won’t have to worry about contaminants gumming up your water softener or other costly maintenance issues. Evaporated salt is the best type of salt you can buy for your water softener, and we recommend it for any Kinetico water softening system.
All of these options use sodium chloride to operate, which is the most common compound used in water softening systems. While we recommend evaporated salt pellets or cubes for water softeners, you can then choose between sodium chloride and potassium chlorate evaporated salts.
What is the Difference Between Sodium and Potassium Chloride?
Some consumers are curious about potassium chloride pellets they may have seen at the store, which is a nearly sodium-free alternative to sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is cheaper and more readily available than potassium chloride, making it a perfectly fine choice for most people. However, some people may choose potassium chloride instead if they are trying to watch their sodium intake due to dietary restrictions or certain health conditions.
Unfortunately, potassium chloride water softening pellets can cost up to five times more per bag than sodium chloride. Additionally, those who choose to use potassium chloride have to add more of it to your softener than you would sodium chloride pellets. This makes it a much more expensive choice, and it’s simply not justifiable for most families.
The Bottom Line
For the vast majority of households and businesses that use a water softening system, the best salts you can buy are sodium chloride evaporated pellets. Although they are a bit more costly than solar and rock salt, they pay for themselves by preventing expensive and unnecessary repairs. Sodium chloride is also cheaper and more efficient than potassium chloride, but potassium chloride evaporated pellets or cubes are the best choice for those households that must limit their sodium intake as much as possible.
The Kinetico Advantage
At Aquarius Water Conditioning, we recommend Kinetico water softening systems because they are the most efficient water softeners on the planet. They do not require electricity to work, and they use substantially less water than other systems. Kinetico water softeners are also made in America, and many models come with a 10-year warranty.
If you need a new water softening system, or you would like to know more about how we can help you get the cleanest water possible, please contact us today!