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Different Types of Water Softener Salt & How to Choose

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

Water softener salt is excellent for many different purposes, including reducing hard water and improving the overall quality of your drinking water. Each type of salt has its advantages and disadvantages.

This guide will look at the different types of water softener salt and their uses.

What Is Water Softener Salt?

Water softener salt is commonly made of Sodium Chloride (NaCl), used to treat hard water. Hard water contains high levels of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, which can cause problems in your home. It removes these minerals from the water, making it softer and easier to use.

Water Softener Salt
Water Softener Salt

Water softener salt is very integral in the functioning of a water softener system, and there are many different types to choose from. The type of salt you use will depend on your needs and the water hardness level.

To enhance the effects of the salt, you should add salt to your water softener every four to six weeks. This, of course, will depend on the water softening system you have and its size.

If you have a water softener, aim to regularly check the salt levels and top up when necessary. Water softener salt doesn’t go bad, but it can absorb moisture from the air, making it harder to dissolve.

A rule of thumb is that a 40-lb bag of water softener will last about a month in a standard 24,000-grain unit.

Water Softener Salt Ingredients

Sodium chloride, Calcuim chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Potassium chloride are the common water softener salt ingredients.

Sodium chloride works by exchanging ions with the minerals in hard water, making them less likely to bind together and form deposits.

Calcium chloride is an effective water softener salt, but it can be corrosive to metal pipes. It’s often used in areas with very hard water.

Magnesium chloride is less effective than sodium chloride, but is less corrosive to metal pipes. It’s common in areas with hard water.

Potassium chloride is the most expensive water softener salt, but is also the most effective. It’s often used in areas with very hard water.

Types of Water Softener Salt

There are different types of water softener salt available on the market, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Rock salt is the most common type and is made from evaporated seawater. It contains high levels of magnesium and calcium.

It is the most affordable type of salt, but can be challenging to find in some areas.

Solar salt is another option created from evaporated seawater.

It contains high levels of sodium and more costly than rock salt, but is easier to find in most areas.

You can also use block salt, which comes from evaporated seawater. Block salt contains high levels of sodium and magnesium as well as potassium.

Potassium chloride is a sodium-free salt alternative. It is also produced as a synthetic product containing no minerals.

This is the most effective and expensive type of water softener salt.

Evaporated salt, or solar salt, is the most common water softener salt. Solar salt is another salt that comes from evaporated seawater and contains high sodium levels.

Solar salt is more expensive than rock salt, but is easier to find in most areas.

What Kind of Salt Do I Need?

The type of salt you need will depend on the hardness of your water.

If you have very hard water, you will need to use a high in magnesium and calcium salt. If you have soft water, you can use any other type of water softener salt.

It is essential to use a salt that is specifically designed for water softener systems. Do not use table salt, as this can damage your system.

Also, beware that water softener salt is banned in some states. Check your local laws before purchasing any salt.

Water Softener Salt Block vs Pellets

The main difference between water softener salt blocks and pellets is that salt blocks come in block form, and pellets resemble tiny gravel. Pellets also tend to be more expensive because they are easier to handle.

Water Softener pellets
Water Softener pellets

Are Salt Blocks Better for a Water Softener?

People may use salt blocks without any problems however, they are not the most recommended because they can leave behind mineral deposits.

Some companies use a bonding agent to create the blocks, which unfortunately adds chemicals to your water.

Pellets are generally the best type of salt to use in a water softener because they don’t leave behind any mineral deposits.

Do Salt Blocks Last More Than Pellets?

Salt blocks last longer because they come in 4kg chunks.

Does water softener salt expire?

No, water softener salt does not expire. However, it is essential to store the salt in a dry place to prevent damp and clump together.

Ensure that the salt is properly sealed off without any access to contaminants.
Another thing to regularly check is the plastic packing the salt comes in.

It can wear and get holes over time, making the salt vulnerable to moisture and clumping. If that happens, your salt will be compromised and will no longer be as effective in water softening.

Is water softener salt safe for pets?

Water softener salt is generally not safe for pets. Ingesting salt can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets.

If you think your pet has ingested salt, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Even small amounts of sodium can exacerbate problems associated with heart and kidney diseases in dogs.

However, potassium chloride water softener salt is safe for dogs as it does not contain any sodium.

Can we use normal salt for water softener?

You cannot use regular salt for water softener. Water softener salt is specifically designed to remove minerals from the water, making it softer and easier to use.

Normal salt will dissolve too quickly, making the water softening result much less efficient. Nor will it dissolve as slowly or evenly and can accelerate mineral build-up in your water softener unit.

Water softener salt is an essential part of keeping your the unit working correctly. It is specifically designed to dissolve slowly and evenly, giving your water softener unit the time it needs to work effectively.

The right type of salt will also help to extend the life of your water softener by preventing mineral build-up.

Is water softener salt the same as rock salt?

Water softener salt and rock salt can be used interchangeably on concrete driveways and even to make ice cream. However, it’s best to use softener salt in your water softening system.

If you use rock salt, your system will likely have to be cleaned more often.

The unit would have to work harder, and you would have to clean it more frequently. Therefore, the myths about saving money using rock salt are false.

Is dishwasher salt the same as water softener salt?

No, dishwasher salt is not the same as water softener salt.

Dishwashers that use salt make a brine that is used for flushing through resin beads. The resin beads are what remove the hardness from the water.

Water softener salt, on the other hand, is designed to actually change the chemistry of hard water.

The other significant difference between dishwasher salt and water softener salt is that water softener salt does not contain any additives. These additives can clog up your dishwasher’s inner workings and lead to problems later.

Can I use water softener salt in my bath?

Yes, you can use water softener salt in your bath. It will enhance your bathing experience by giving your soap more lather and making your skin feel soft.

It also has other skin benefits, such as removing toxins from the skin’s surface without drying it out or stripping the skin of its natural oils.

The result is smoother, clearer skin. If you struggle with breakouts, you may even notice a decrease in the number and severity of pimples.

However, it is essential to store the salt in a dry place for proper preservation.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
    1. Hi Robert, great question. The key issue here is the potential harm of too much sodium being exposed to your garden or plants from softened water that uses a typical salt-based softening system. The general advice is that if your garden or trees are exclusively getting softened water, sodium that is present in your softened water can build up and harm the greens. If you’re getting a combination of rain water from the environment and doing some softened water, that is likely not going to be an issue. Ideally, when you are getting your water softening system installed, make sure there’s a bypass that is installed that your garden, lawn, and other greenery is getting non-softened water to avoid this potential issue.

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