What Water Softener Salt Is Best To Use? January 14, 2017 01:06
It's a question we get asked daily here at Aquatell. There are so many types and brands of water softener salt, it can be really difficult to know what to buy. The short answer to this question is this:
If you find a product that's sold in a bag, by a major retailer and it's labelled as "water softener salt" it will work well in any of our systems.
The truth is, we don't see a whole lot of variation in terms of softener performance, salt bridging, and overall performance between the brands and types of salt available.
The only salt product we suggest you steer clear of is raw, unrefined rock salt. This salt is dirty and will eventually cause a mucky deposit to form on the bottom of your brine tank.
What you'll see for sale in stores:
- salt crystals
- salt pellets
- potassium chloride
Salt crystals and salt pellets are different forms of sodium chloride. This is the salt we're all familiar with in the dinner table salt shaker. Potassium chloride is marketed as an alternative to sodium-based products.
We get a lot of questions about the sodium level in soft water. The water softening process is an ion-exchange process. The softener grabs onto hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium compounds) and exchanges them for another ion - usually sodium. So using a sodium-based product results in an increase in the sodium concentration of the soft water. How much? The Mayo Clinic suggests that the majority of softener-using households contain less than 50mg of sodium per litre of water. That's less than 13mg in a glass of water. Soft water can therefore be considered a 'very low sodium' product in the strictest sense. To put it in perspective, the suggested daily sodium intake for adults is 1000 - 1500mg.
Salt crystals are usually found in two different forms: rock salt and solar salt. Rock salt is mined from the ground like other minerals, and generally contains the greatest level of impurities. These impurities can increase the likelihood of salt bridging and mushing. The use of rock salt will also cause the accumulation of debris in the brine tank that will need to be cleaned out periodically. The advantage of rock salt is that it's quite inexpensive.
Solar salt is created through the evaporation of naturally occurring brine, such as sea water. Brine ponds are exposed to the sun and wind, and the brine solution concentrates over time until it becomes a solid mass. Solar salt tends to be cleaner than rock salt but does not have the same purity level as salt pellets.
Salt pellets are created by forcing water down into naturally occurring salt deposits in the earth. The water dissolves this salt and the brine solution is then pumped to the surface. Here it is exposed to heat and vacuum evaporation. This process produces the most pure salt - usually 99.9% sodium chloride.
For this reason salt pellets are the preferred salt for most water softening applications. Pellets are slightly more expensive than rock salt and solar salt, but because of their exceptional purity, you'll rarely experience bridging or mushing, and you'll likely never have to clean out your brine tank over its entire lifespan.
Potassium chloride can be used as an alternative to the typical sodium-based water softener salts available. The advantage of potassium chloride is that the softened water contains no sodium. This can be important to those people on sodium restricted diets. The disadvantages of potassium chloride include the following:
- It's a lot more expensive
- It's less effective at regenerating the water softener resin
All the water softeners sold at Aquatell can be used with Potassium or Sodium based products. For customers looking for maximum softening efficiency but still wanting sodium-free drinking water, consider using sodium chloride in your softener, and then purifying your drinking water with a Reverse Osmosis system. Reverse Osmosis systems will remove thousands of contaminants including all of the sodium.