If you have a salt-based water softener, you already know how essential salt is for its functioning.
If you are new to such systems, then the wide variety of types of salt may have you all confused.
Don’t worry, since there are so many different types of water softener salt available on the market, it can be quite difficult to pick the one which is the best for your needs even if you have years of experience with a salt-based water softener.
Choosing the most suitable water softener salt can be crucial for the proper softening of the water in your home, as well as for the maintenance of your water softener system.
Read on to find out more about the best water softener salts for 2021 as well as their advantages and disadvantages, plus some useful tips about choosing the best salt for your water softener.
Best Water Softener Salt
The Morton Salt 1501 Clean Protect Water Softener is one of the best products for softening the water for preventing the build-up of minerals and scale in the pipes and appliances connected to your plumbing system.
The softener pellets come in a 50 lb. bag, which is easy to open. It also has a comfortable hard handle, making carrying it and pouring the contents easier.
The size of the bag is 16 x 15 x 4 inches.
When you start using these pellets, the softer water will also benefit your clothes, linens, your skin, and hair. Plus, cleaning the white spots from your appliances, utensils, and glasses will be much easier.
- It is among the top preferred water softener salts on the market for 2021
- It comes in a 50 lbs. bag with an easy-open tab and a hard handle
- It helps reduce and prevent the build-up of minerals in the appliances like heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and others
- It will improve the water quality and make cleaning easier
- Your hair and skin will feel softer
- It is made in the USA
- Some users have a problem its heavyweight
The Pro Products Rust Out RO65N is the water softener maintenance product you need if your water at home has a high iron content.
The softener will remove the rust build-up and the iron from the resin bed of the softener and from your pipes and appliances by transforming the iron into a soluble, which can be rinsed off once the softener regenerates.
It can help maintain and prolong the longevity of your water softener and will help reduce and remove the unsightly rust stains from your sinks, toilets, showers, and clothes or other surfaces.
The prescribed amount of Rust Out should be added to every 40 lb. bag of salt pellets to the water softener, and can also be used to tread stained tubs, sinks, toilets, and clothes.
The product is made in the USA and is sold in tubs of 4.75 lbs.
- It removes the iron and rust build-up and turns into a soluble solution which is easily rinsed out
- It is suitable for water with a high iron content
- It will help remove the rusty stains from your bathroom, kitchen, and clothes
- The solution is sold in easy to carry, store, and use tubs of 4.75 lbs.
- It is affordable and will last for a long time
- The results of its use will become evident only after about 3 weeks of use, and the best results will be reached after 8 weeks of use
- You will need to follow the instructions carefully, and take precautions when pouring it and adding it into your water softening system because it is reactive, and may be harmful to breathe in or come in contact with
The Diamond Crystal Water Softener is a potassium chloride substitute for salt for your water softening system. It is in pellet form, which is easy to use and has a low insoluble content.
It is sold in 40 lb. bags with easy-open tabs and easy-grip handles for portability and easy pouring.
The potassium chloride is safer to use than regular sodium chloride for watering your plants and for animals.
The salt substitute will help soften the water, and thus prevent a build-up of pipes and staining on fixtures and clothing. It will help make your washed clothes brighter and whiter, and your soaps, other washing products, and detergents will work better with this product added to your water softener too.
- It is a safer alternative for salt for water softening, and won’t make your water salty
- It is safer for plants, pets, animals and the environment than salt
- It is sold in bags of 40 lbs. which are easy to open, carry and pour
- The softener will help make your washing and bathing more efficient
- These pellets cause minimal build-up in the water tank
- It will increase the longevity of your plumbing system, and all connected appliances, like washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters and more
- It is pricier than sodium chloride based water softener salt
The Morton Salt Rust Defense water softener pellets will help remove all those ugly rusty stains from your sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and clothes.
It also helps improve the taste of the water by removing the iron and rust from the brine, pipes, and appliances.
It will also help prevent the build-up of scale in your plumbing system and in your water-based appliances.
The anti-rust water softener pellets are sold in bags of 40 lbs. with carry handles and easy-open tabs.
- The product can help remove and prevent rust stains from fixtures, laundry, and appliances
- It helps reduce and prevent the build-up of scale in the pipes and appliances as well
- The pellets are well-packaged in strong 40 lb. bags with carry handles for easy portability and applying
- It is suitable for softening water which has a high iron content
- It will improve the taste of the water as well
- The shipment of the heavy bag adds to the price of the product when purchased online
If you prefer your water softener salt in crystal form, then this high rated water softening salt by Morton is an excellent option for you.
The crystals are naturally derived from sea saltwater, and the content of the salt is all-natural.
Once you start using this water softener salt, you will notice that your hair and skin feel softer and that your soaps, shampoos, and detergents are much more efficient when you are washing yourself, or your clothes, dishes, or home.
With these crystals, cleaning your home will become much easier. Plus, it will help reduce the scale build-up in your pipes and appliances.
It is offered in bags of 40 lbs. with carry handles and easy-open tabs for more comfortable handling.
You will need two to four bags per every couple of months, depending on your water’s hardness, and the number of people in your household
- Cleaning, washing, and bathing will be easier and more efficient
- It is made of entirely natural salt from the sea
- Your hair and skin will be softer
- The salt crystals will help reduce and prevent the scale build-up in the pipes and your appliances
- The product comes in strong and easy to open bags of 40 lbs.
- Once again, because of the heavy weight of the product, its price with free delivery may be significantly higher than if you buy it from a store and bring it home yourself
The System Saver II by Morton Salt is among the most popular of all water softener salt pellets in the USA.
It comes in a 40 lbs. exclusive club bag, and thanks to its patented formula helps prevent the scale and mineral build-up in the appliances and plumbing system. Plus, it helps make the water softer on the skin and hair, and easier on your water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, and others.
These salt pellets by Morton Salt will not leave the residue which regular rock salt leaves in the water softener brine tank. It will help the resin beads regenerate and work more efficiently in softening the water in your home.
The pellets are sold in 40 lb. bags with handles, and easy opening.
- The pellets are made of a special SystemSaver formula which will not leave any residue in your resin brine tank
- It helps make the water in your home softer and thus increase the longevity of your plumbing system, your appliances, and fixtures
- It doesn’t contain phosphates and can help remove the iron from the water
- You will feel your hair become softer and your skin healthier and smoother
- Sold in 40 lb. bags which can be delivered to your door if you are willing to order online
- Buying the product from the store will cost you less, but it is much less convenient than buying it online and getting it delivered to your door in 1-2 days
The Morton Potassium Chloride Pellets are sodium-free, and thus do not make the water salty. This is especially important if you are on a diet restricting the intake of salt, or if you use the water from the tap to water your plants or give to your pets.
This high-quality water softener salt alternative causes a 20% lower chloride discharge than the sodium-based products, which will save you water for regenerating the softener for your water.
Since potassium is an essential nutrient, it will help replenish your drinking water as well.
These pellets are also much more eco-friendly than the sodium-based water softener salts.
One 40 lbs. bag will last for about a month.
- The pellets are made of healthier potassium chloride, rather than sodium
- The water from the tap will be less salty which is good for you, your pets and your plants, as well as for the environment
- The pellets will help save water which is needed for regenerating the beads in the water softening system
- Potassium is known to be beneficial for people suffering from high blood pressure
- They are sold in easy to carry and open bags of 40 lbs.
- Potassium based water softener salts are more expensive than regular sodium-based ones
How does water softener salt work?
The most common and efficient water softening systems use salt as a catalyst for the ion exchange process which turns hardness ions into salt ions, and thus makes the water softer.
So, such a water softener cannot function properly without salt needed for its regeneration.
In simple terms, a salt-based water softener works as the water which passes through the resin tank comes into contact with the salt ions on the resin beads. As they pass through them, the magnesium, calcium and other hardness ions exchange places with the salt ions on the resin. As a result, the salt (sodium or potassium) ions remain in the water, which flows to your home, while the harness ions stay attached to the resin beads.
But as you use more water, these salt ions on the resin beads start wearing out, and they need to be recharged.
The regeneration of the resin bead ions happens by adding more water softener salt to the brine tank.
During the regeneration process, the hard ions once again switch places with the added salt ions, and the excess minerals are drained away as wastewater with a high mineral level.
So, as you can see, softener salt is an essential element of any salt-based water softener.
But there are various types of water softener salts which are being offered on the market, each of which has its pros and cons, and each of which is suitable for specific water softeners and different water quality.
Here is a detailed guide which will help you understand how to choose the most suitable water softener salt for your needs, and what the differences between the different types is.
How much water softener salt should you buy?
The quantity of salt you need depends on the size of your brine tank, and how often it needs to be refilled. This depends mainly on the hardness of your water, as well as on the overall water consumption in your household.
In general, estimates show that you can expect that a four-member household where the water has 7 to 10 grains per gallon hardness will need about 9-10 lbs. of salt per week. This means that a 40 pound bag of salt will be enough for a month.
The exact amount you will need depends on your water usage and the water grain rate.
Thankfully, most good quality water softeners allow you to tweak the amount of salt you use, so you can use different quantities depending on your specific usage of water, like if you are having house guests and you are using more water, or when you are on vacation, and no one is using any water.
Usually, you will need to use more salt in case you have very hard water with 10 GPG or more, or with high volumes of iron (2ppm or more).
Also, if the number of residents in your home increases, you will likely be using more water too. Having a small baby or toddler, as well as a teenager, may also increase the use of water in your home, and thus increase the amount and frequency of salt refills.
Features to keep in mind when buying water softener salt
Buying salt for your water softener may seem like a straightforward task, but the truth is, there are many different types of salt available, and not every type is suitable for every water softener.
In order to make sure that you are buying the right type of water softener salt, you should set your budget and priorities, and of course, check with the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the maintenance of your salt-based water softener.
So, here are the features to consider when choosing the best water softener salt
There are more affordable options on the market like rock salt, but it is not the most effective one. If you are looking for the most efficient water softener salt, you may want to opt for evaporated salt or sea salt.
Keep in mind that the salt usually comes in quite large bags and packages, so buying and transporting, storing, and pouring them could be quite a hassle.
This is why the prices on Amazon may be higher than if you go to your local store and buy the salt yourself. The convenience, of course, is that if you order the salt online, you will get it delivered to your doorstep.
The type of water softener
Make sure that your water softening system requires the use of salt.
As strange as it may seem, some people make the mistake of buying salt for their water softeners, only to realize that they are actually salt-free softeners and use no salt whatsoever. Salt-free softeners rely on template assisted crystallization or magnets to soften the water.
The different types of water softener salts have different purity levels. For the best results, choose the one with the highest purity. This can help keep your water clean from pollutants, and will also prevent bridging and mush in the brine tank.
Even though higher purity salts can be more expensive than the others, it makes sense to spend more on salt than on having to spend more on the maintenance and repair of your water softener system.
The type of salt – potassium chloride or sodium chloride
Keep in mind, that however, minimal, salt-based softeners will add a salty taste to your water.
If you plan on drinking the water from the tap but need to be on a sodium-free diet, or if you simply dislike the salty taste, or plan on feeding it to your pets, or use it to water your plants, you may want to switch to potassium chloride softener salt instead.
The maintenance of your softening system
The type and quantity of salt you should buy depends on the maintenance requirements of your specific system, as well as on your water usage and hardness. Make sure you buy sufficient quantities to use for periodic regeneration, as well as for refilling the brine tanks.
You will need to check your brine tank regularly for any salt bridges, salt mush, or humidity as well.
The different types of water softener salts
You may have noticed from our list that there is a variety of different types of salt for water softeners on the market. They differ by the sources they are derived from, by form, as well as by chemical composition, in some cases.
Here are the main types of water softener salts:
Sodium Chloride is the chemical name for salt. It can be in different forms, including crystals, pellets, and block salt. As for the type of sodium chloride, here are the main types you can buy for your water softener:
This is a 100% pure salt derived from raw salt crystals through the process of evaporation with the help of special heaters.
It is the purest of all sodium-based water softener salts you can find. It is also usually the most expensive type being offered.
This high purity sodium-based salt is preferred because of its lower water-insoluble content.
This feature helps reduce the risk of salt bridging, mushing or a build-up developing in the brine tank of your water softening system. This means less maintenance for you, and better performance of your water softening system.
Evaporated salt is usually sold in pellet form, but you can find it in other forms as well.
Solar salt is better known as sea salt and is derived from sea evaporation by letting it dry out naturally from the sun and the wind. It is usually sold for use in water softeners in the form of crystals or pellets.
Most of the solar salt being offered has a high purity level of 99.5%, and is much more soluble than rock salt, but does not perform so well in softeners where the water is very hard.
Still, it is one of the most popular types of water softener salt being sold, especially in pellet form.
Rock salt, as its name suggests, looks like small pebbles or rocks.
It is derived by mining, and has been formed through the ages from the erosion of the soils from rainfall. The salt deposits have accumulated underground.
Rock salt is less expensive, but it can contain high volumes of calcium sulfate. This makes it harder to dissolve in water and can cause it to leave residue in the brine tank.
This is the rawest of all of the other types of water softener salts, but its higher mineral content has made its use and efficiency for water softening systems quite questionable.
Then again, the manufacturers of the water softeners claim that rock salt is completely safe to use for their systems.
But keep in mind that while rock salt may be the least expensive option, it may cause you to have to do more maintenance and cleaning of the brine tank of your water softener.
Also, in some cases, rock salt may contain non-soluble particles, which may end up in your water, polluting it and making it look cloudy too.
Using a block of salt for your water softener is not advisable unless it has been recommended by the manufacturer or by an expert plumber. If you will be using block salt, make sure that it is completely submerged in the water in the brine tank.
Potassium chloride is the alternative to sodium chloride, which can be used as a water softener salt and added to your brine tank.
It can do the same as the sodium chloride can do for regenerating the resin, as well as for ensuring that the hard water is softened.
In some cases, it may even be a better choice than sodium chloride.
The main benefit of potassium chloride is its lack of sodium. It is actually 99.99% sodium-free, so it is perfectly safe for people on a low sodium diet, for animals and for plants.
But, potassium chloride is usually more expensive than sodium chloride and may be more difficult to find in all areas.
In some cases, you may have to adjust the dosage and add about 10% more potassium chloride than you would sodium chloride to your brine tank to ensure that it regenerates and works properly.
The use of potassium chloride as a water softener salt is relatively new and has been increasingly popular due to the growing health concerns about the consumption of salt.
It is definitely a must, if you are planning to use the water for your pets or plants, or if you want to or need to stay away from sodium intake.
In fact, some studies show that the intake of potassium can help lower the blood pressure levels, so it may have a health effect on you as well, especially if you suffer from high blood pressure.
It is also a great option if you simply dislike the salty taste of your water after it passes through the water softener.
Which is better – water softener salt crystals or pellets?
Another question which people often ask – is whether the water softener crystals or pellets are better for their water softening systems.
Here are the main differences, pros, and cons of each of the two most common forms of water softener salts being offered on the market:
Water softener salt crystals
The softener crystals usually come from solar salt, which has a relatively high purity of 99.5-99.6% of sodium chloride. They are derived via natural evaporation of the salt from seawater triggered by the sun and wind.
The form of this type of softener salt is in small course crystals.
Softener salt crystals are suitable for households that have low water consumption, as well as those that use dual tank water softeners.
Using salt crystals for a softener in a household where there is a high water consumption can lead to bridging occurring in the brine tank.
Water softener salt pellets
The water softener salt pellets are more suitable for households with high water consumption, as they can prevent the abovementioned bridging in the brine tank. They are also better suited for all-in-one tank softening systems.
Some water softener salt pellets have added citric acid to them. It helps protect the plumbing system, your appliances, and pipes from scale and mineral build-up and helps keep them clean.
How do you know when you have to add salt to your water softener?
As you already know, salt is vital for the water softening process of any salt-based softener.
So, it is essential that you know when and how much salt you should add, in order to ensure that the system is functioning properly.
In general, the frequency of adding salt to the brine tank depends on your softener type, the hardness of your water, and your overall water consumption. But there are some ways to tell when it is time to add salt to the water softener too.
Here are some useful tips:
- Check the salt level visually – open the brine tank cover and look inside it. If the salt looks dry, or the brine tank is half empty, then you will need to refill it until it is above the half-level. Also, if the water level is above the salt and it looks wet, then you need to add salt above the half-full level
- If your water softener is older, than it may need to be refilled with salt more often than a brand new one. New softener usually require that salt is added once in 6-8 weeks, while older may need more frequent refills
- Inspect the tank for bridging – it is strongly recommended that you do regular inspections for bridging every 2-3 months. The appearance of a salt bridge may mean that the softener is not functioning and that your water is not being softened. You can remove a salt bridge by breaking it with a broom handle or another object. You may want to consider switching to another type of softener salt in order to prevent the future build-up of bridges.
- Once you start getting used to how the softer water feels and taste, you will intuitively learn how to recognize when your softener needs salt to be added. As soon as you feel that the water is getting hard again, then it is probably time for a salt replenishment.
What if you forget to add salt on time?
It is not advisable to leave your salt-based water softener without salt, but if it happens, you may need to perform a manual regeneration of your system.
- Cleaning the inside walls of the brine tank from any build-up with a clean wet rag
- Pour salt in the brine tank, and make sure it is only half-full
- Start the manual regeneration by pressing the regeneration button and holding it down until the system starts regenerating
Keep in mind that if you have left your softener without salt entirely, it may take a few days before the water running in your home becomes soft again.
How to maintain the brine tank properly?
Salt-based water softeners do require regular maintenance, which apart from adding salt to the brine tank also include the following:
- Inspect the brine tank and check the salt level at least once per month
- Add salt to the tank after each regeneration of the system if necessary
- The salt has to be at least 3-4 inches above the water level in the tank
- The salt should never reach up to 4 inches below the top of the brine tank
- Do not let the salt volume fall under ¼ of the brine tank
- Loosen and remove any salt encrusted on the salt keeper
- Break up any salt bridges using a stick or by pouring hot water on it
As you can see, choosing the best water softener salt is not as simple as it sounds.
Still, the good news is that once you find the most suitable salt for your water softening system, you will be able to enjoy the numerous benefits of having softer water flowing through the pipes of your home.
Keep in mind that salt is crucial for the ion exchange process used by the salt-based water softeners for removing the minerals and the hardness of the water.
This is why you should choose a salt which is suitable for your water softener, for your water usage as well as for your water hardness.
With regular maintenance, and with the proper salt, you can enjoy drinking, bathing in, washing and using soft water in your home for years to come.
Hopefully, we have helped you decide which one of these top-rated water softener salts is the best option for your needs.
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Last update on 2021-02-26 at 05:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API