How to Choose the Best Water Softener Salt for Your System?

According to the US Geological survey, more than 85% of the geography of US has hard water. Therefore, to protect yourself, it is become essential to soften water. For one, water softeners are a great choice if you have to deal with hard water. The hardness of water makes it hard for you to wash clothes and dishes. Measured in grains per gallon, one grain of hardness equals to as much as one per seven thousand pounds of rock.

The capacity of a water softener refers to the total number of grains of water hardness the water softener unit could remove before regeneration.

With so many options available in the market and millions of reviews though, it is normal to be confused regarding the best salt for water softening. Today, we are going ease the confusion by telling you all about salts for water softening.

Types of Water Softener Salt

There are different salt options available and the best suited for you depend on your water softening system. Below are the 5 types of salt available:

Rock Salt

Rock salt is the rawest kind of salt which is obtained by mining methods from underground salt deposits. It is formed by deposits due to soil erosion over years because of rains and other factors. Apart from sodium chloride it also has other minerals and therefore it seems like the ideal choice for softening water. Some people do not consider rock salt for water softening because it has some insoluble minerals which get left behind during the water softening process. Therefore, if you opt for rock salt for treating hard water then you will need to get the tank cleaned regularly.

Solar Salt

When the sea water is evaporated then it leaves behind crystals called solar salt or sea salt. Solar salt has a high solubility rate and also a purity rate of 99.5% or higher which means it gets dissolved faster than other types of softening salts. Solar salt is generally sold in pellets or blocks for the water softening process.

Evaporated Salt

This salt is the purest form of salt as the raw form is first dissolved and then the moisture is evaporated. It has a purity level between 99.6% and 99.99%. This makes it the highest quality salt level to be used for treating hard water.


People have been worrying that using sodium for softening water is causing harm to the body because of the increased sodium intake. Therefore, it raised concerns among the general public. Henceforth, the water softening companies started looking for alternatives. They eventually discovered that potassium can be used to treat hard water. Potassium is considered as a necessary nutrient to keep the body healthy. This makes it a good alternative to sodium that is used to soften the water.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Not a type of salt, hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that removes bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms from the water. It is used by people in addition to salt to filter the water and also remove the magnesium and calcium ions. Some people prefer to use this to treat hard water as it does not require maintenance of the tank.

Maintenance Tips for Your Softener Salt Tank

When you treat hard water using the water softening process, it is also essential to maintain the equipment that softens the water. It prolongs the life of the tank giving you healthy and clean water for a longer time. So, the tips to maintaining your water softening tank are:

  • Salt level: It is important to see that the salt level is accurate for the resin beads to do their job effectively. If the salt level is high then it can lead to salt bridging and if the salt level is low then the resin beds would not be supplied with enough sodium ions to conduct the water softening process. Therefore, for resin beads to effectively remove the calcium and magnesium ions, the salt level needs to be maintained at all times.
  • Salt bridging and Salt mushing:If there is a change is temperature or the weather is humid or you are using a wrong salt then salt bridging can occur. Salt bridging creates a gap between the water and salt and hence the brine cannot be formed. Without the brine, the resin beads cannot soften the water. The best way to remove a salt bridge is by pushing a broom stick onto the salt which will break up the salt. If the salt does not break using a broom stick then the cause is salt mushing. It is more of a serious problem as it causes a blockage which prevents the softening process. The only solution to deal with this problem is draining the water softening and replacing the old salt with a new salt.
  • Resin Bed cleaner:The resin bed can accumulate a lot of chemicals which pollute the resin bed and reduce its efficiency. Therefore, it is important to clean it regularly to make the resin bed last longer. The process is fairly simple as you have to just flush the water softener cleaner down the brine every few months. Through the normal flushing process, the cleaner will be discharged which keeps the resin bed clean.


Looking for some of the best tips when using a water softener salt? Here is a look at some of the common questions, and the answers you would find.

How can we check the level of the softener salt?

Open the lid to your brine tank. The water should be below the salt level. If the water is above the salt level then it is time to add more salt. You may want to check it each week, if you have to use the water softener regularly.

Where can I buy salts for water softening?

Water softener can be bought anywhere. You can even buy it online by sitting at your home – most major online marketplaces have them. Similarly, you could buy one from your neighbourhood store – it’s easy to find one, really. However, before you do buy one, it’s a good idea to consult experts before buying one to know the brand and the type of salt required.

Can my drinking water taste “salty” because of the process?

Salt is used in the softening process, but sodium bicarbonate is used and not sodium chloride (table salt) and therefore, the water cannot taste salty. If you find your water salty, it could be due to some other reason.

How many times do I need to add salt?

The more water being softened the more salt is required. Regularly check the salt level to make sure that it is half full at all times. Do not overfill it and make sure it is not below the appropriate level.

What is better to use? Pellets or solar salt?

Solar salt has more insoluble minerals than evaporated salt (pellets). Therefore, if the usage is more than pellets should be used as it will not build up fast in the brine tank. The choice depends on the amount and frequency of use.

Can rock salt be used to soften the water?

Rock salt can be used to soften the water but it has high insoluble minerals. This makes it necessary to clean the brink tank frequently almost 2-3 times a year. So if you using rock salt then you should be prepared for the frequent cleaning.

How frequently should the brine tank be cleaned?

The brine tank does not need to be cleaned yearly. If the salt used is insoluble or there is a malfunction, then the brine tank will need cleaning. You just need to check for any build up and clean it immediately if present.

Can salt blocks be used for the waster softening?

Blocks can be used only in special tanks. It can also be used in other tanks provided it is submerged properly. Check the manual for all the instructions on how to change to salt blocks.

What do I do if the water smells like rotten eggs?

If your water smells like rotten eggs then it can be one of these problems:

  • There is hydrogen sulfide which can be removed by using an additional water filtration system.
  • Your water supply might contain iron. If this is the case then contact your local water supplier to fix this issue.
  • Your tank may contain bacteria and germs which when mixed with water gives this smell. If this is the case, then you need to use a water softener cleaner solution and flush the tank.

The salt is not dissolving in the water. What do I need to do?

There are can be various reasons for the salt not dissolving:

  • There is a salt bridge which creates a gap between the water and salt and hence the brine cannot be formed. The best way to remove a salt bridge is by pushing a broom stick onto the salt which will break up the salt.
  • Salt mushing must have occurred which is more of a serious problem as it causes a blockage which prevents the softening process. The only solution to deal with this problem is draining the water softening and replacing the old salt with a new salt.
  • If you have recently replaced the salt, then check the water lower. You need to add water for the water softener to work properly.
  • Check if your water softener is plugged in correctly and working. Call a mechanic if not working.

The salt is dissolving rapidly. What is the reason?

Sometimes, you may find that you have to use more water softener because you can see that the salt is dissolving more quickly than ever before. The reason for this can be the following.

  • You have recently changed the shape of your salt. This can cause the dissolving to happen fast.
  • The water softening process has been set at high. It is set at high when the water is extremely hard and hence requires more salt. So, check your setting.
  • If the water usage is high in your household then the salt will dissolve faster to keep up with the usage.

The salt is not softening the water. What should I do?

There may be salt bridging or salt mushing or a malfunction which hinders the water softening process. The other reason could be that the salt was not given enough time. This means that the salt was put in the softener and immediately started.

Is deicing salt a good softener for the system?

Deicing salt is not recommended to use for the water softening process because it has a huge amount of insoluble minerals. This will require frequent cleaning of the tank. Additionally, the particle size of deicing salt is small which is not made for water softening.

How do I know if I need to replace the resin in my softener?

If there is some problem with your water softener and you have considered all the possible problems like salt problem, salt bridging or mushing then you might want to consider changing the resin in the softener. Generally, resins last from 20 to 25 years.

My softener tank has a brown/black sludge/oily substance. What is the reason for it?

After a while, the insoluble minerals from your salt can accumulate in your tank which is brown color or an oily black sludge. You just need to clean it to get rid of it.

Will my septic system get hurt with the brine from my softener?

According to studies performed by Water Quality Association, the brine cannot harm the septic system if the septic tank is placed properly with an accurate septic field.

Does the purity level vary among salts?

Yes the purity level varies from salts. The purity level for evaporated salt varies from 99.7% to 99.9%, solar salt is from 99.6% to 99.8% and rock salt from 95% to 98.5%.

Can the salt used in water softened be used in my ice cream freezer

When salt is applied to ice, it lowers the freezing point of water. Table salt can also be used for it but using a salt which is coarse is preferred as it dissolves slowly. Rock or solar salt can be used as they are coarser.

What does "Softener Care" additive do?

The softener care additive is a surfactant which increases the durability in pellets and reduces the risk of bridging and mushing in the tanks.

Can I mix different kinds of salt in the softener?

Yes you can mix different kinds of salt. It is generally not harmful. But some water softener systems are designed for specific salts. If alternatives are used then it could damage the system. To be on a safe side, you should let one type of salt be used completely before putting another kind of salt in the tank.

Which of the softener salt can I use to make bath salts?

You can use solar salt as it is coarser than other salts and also large is gradation.

Can the water softener salt harm animals in any way?

The water softening salts contain certain particles and additives which are not suitable for animal feeding. The size of the particles can be harmful for small animals.

Do the salts contain chemicals?

Some salts contain additives while some may not. The additives are added to prevent the salt from getting hard. You should refer to the packaging for more information.

Can I get soft water by directly adding the salt into my well or cistern?

No, you cannot add salt directly to the well to get soft water. You need the water softener system as the salt in the brine tank, regenerates the resin beds which remove the magnesium and calcium ions.

How is sodium (chloride) and potassium (chloride) different?

Both are the same. The difference is that during the water softening process, sodium is added when using sodium chloride and potassium is added to the water when you use potassium chloride. For people who need to restrict sodium in their diet use potassium chloride for the water softening process.

What is my sodium intake because of soft water?

The amount of sodium added to the water depends on the hardness level of the water. Higher the level of magnesium and calcium, higher is the amount of sodium required to soften the water. The majority of water systems tested by the Environmental Protection Agency have 50 mg of sodium per liter. Th result is that there is 12.5 mg of sodium for every 8 ounce glass. This falls within the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of “very low sodium.”

What should be the water level be when filling the water softener tank?

The water level should be according to the manual or the technician. But generally the salt should be 3 to 4 inches above the water level minimum.

Can the softener salt be used with food like for canned or meat packing?

No. The softener salt is not made for food. Although some pellets are made from food grade, but it is still not recommend to use it.

Can I use the water softener salt to remove ice on my driveway? Will it cause any harm to the concrete?

You can purchase a water softener salt that can remove ice and snow from the driveway. Like Diamond Crystal rock salt and Diamond Crystal Solar Salt Extra Course can be used to remove ice and snow from parking lots, sidewalks and asphalt surfaces. You can check the user manual to know how to use it for removing ice.

Can I use something else other than salt to regenerate my softener?

Yes, you can potassium chloride. It is an alternative to sodium which can be used for the ion exchange process. However, it is more expensive and it doesn’t really make sense if you are already having some good results.

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