Whether you’ve just bought a new salt-based water softener or have been using one for years, you will know that they require the use of salt to soften your home’s water supply.
The trouble is, there are many different types of salt on the market which can lead to confusion with water softener owners over which is the right type for their system.
Luckily, there is a strong general consensus surrounding the type of salt products that should be utilized within your water softener – and so in this guide, we’re going to tell you exactly what you should be buying and using.
Salt-based water softeners are designed to use one or several of the three main types of softener salt that are readily available for purchase. These include;
Salt pellets are the most common type of softener salt and are also the cheapest to buy. As the name suggests, these pellets are periodically added to your water softeners tank to facilitate the water softening process.
Salt crystals are another form of softener salt and are another common option for home water softening systems. These crystals are much smaller in size than pellets but facilitate the same process.
The third option is known as block salt and is the least common option of all the softener salts. We never recommend the use of block salt unless your brine tank has been adjusted to ensure maximum saturation of each piece of block salt.
Within each main category of salt, there are also several sub categories which relate to the type and purity of the salt used to produce each product. These consist of;
Evaporated salt has the highest purity level (99.9%) of any type of salt which also makes it the most expensive type of salt pellet. A high level of salt purity is always recommended to assist in increasing efficiency and reducing the prevalence of maintenance problems.
Solar salt is sold in both pellet and crystal form and is produced by evaporating sea salt. Solar salt is a great option and makes a suitable alternative if evaporated salt is too expensive – but do note that purity levels are slightly lower (99.6%) which may result in issues if you suffer from particularly hard water.
Rock salt takes the appearance of small pebbles and is usually the more economical option, costing less than its purer counterparts. Unfortunately, rock salt also contains a greater quantity of calcium which means that it won’t dissolve as well in water which will eventually lead to maintenance issues.
The last option which deserves a heading of its own is potassium chloride. Unlike sodium chloride (salt), potassium is sodium free and is often the preferred choice for those households who are looking to reduce sodium consumption.
It should be noted that potassium chloride is more expensive than any of the aforementioned salts and can also be more difficult to source. In addition, making the switch to potassium chloride will require you to make adjustments to your water softener to account for potassium’s differing properties.
Salt purity is the single most important factor in determining how well your water softener is going to perform in addition to minimizing the propensity for expensive or labor intensive maintenance problems.
The higher the purity levels, the more water-soluble each type of salt is. Essentially, purer salt will reduce bridging (the formation of solid masses of salt) as well as prevent the build-up of sludge in your brine tank.
Our favoured softener salt is evaporated salt. It is generally more expensive, but this is only one factor that should be taken into account when making a decision.
More importantly, your water softener will perform better, use less salt and require less maintenance when utilizing salt with such a high level of purity.
If your water softener calls for a specific type of salt (Culligan recommend solar salt for their products), we recommend purchasing the highest quality of salt within that category.