So you’ve just bought your first water softener and now the search for the best salt starts. Or maybe you want to replace your old softener salt with a better one.
Either way, you’re in the right place, in this article you’ll learn about the best type of salt you can buy. I’ll list multiple options so everyone can find the perfect product for its needs.
Most of the information found online may be overwhelming for you but this article is all about making things easy to understand.
Using the right type of salt can make a big difference to your softener, a better product will prevent some issues that come with it.
An issue that high-quality salt products prevent is bridging which is a cavity that is formed inside the brine tank. Bridging can be also caused by humidity but essentially it is a bad thing because it denies the brine solution from being made.
Using the right type of salt will reduce drastically the chances of encountering bridging. However, if you are dealing with this problem you may clean it with hot water. And by carefully “knocking“ on the outside of the brine tank.
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Best Water Softener Salt Reviews
1. Morton Salt Clean Protect System Water Softener – The best overall
This is the best salt for water softener system you can buy, Morton is a reputable company known for working with salt. They make salt for food as well that’s probably from where you know them.
This product contains pellets which have the best solubility out of all, meaning that it will cause you fewer headaches. You won’t have to maintain the salt tank as often as with the other types.
It contains special additives which help in extending the softener life span and efficiency. The good thing is that it’ll help all the appliances which use water, like a heater.
The crystal salt is good but does not perform the same, it may be cheaper but at a cost. So it’s better to spend a bit more and be assured that your water softener is working well.
This is the most recommended salt for every water softener owner, it has 50 lbs which is enough to keep you going for a month.
2. Morton Pure AND Natural Water Softening Crystals – The best natural product
This is the next best salt for water softeners, it is made out of high-quality water softener crystals using natural methods. It will ensure that there is no buildup whatsoever on your pipes and appliances.
The soap and detergent will lather way more efficient than with hard water, your laundry will have brighter colors and the fabric will feel softer.
However, there are some downsides as well, one is that you’ll need to maintain the brain trank more often. Because crystal salt solubility is not as good as with the pellets, you may encounter clogs in the tank.
It is not a bad option, it does its job perfectly but you’ll have to be more aware of your water softener maintenance.
3. Morton Salt Clean & Protect Rust Defense Water Softener Pellets – The best against rust and iron removal
This is a recommended product for people who want to be protected against rust or have a great quantity of iron in their water. High levels of iron in your water supply are not really harmful. But your water will have a bittersweet or metallic taste and will cause stains in your household fixtures and laundry.
This type of salt offers you 15 times more iron removal than normal salt, and it is made especially for rust removal and protection against it. And everyone knows that rust is harmful to everything that it touches.
You should purchase this water softener salt with iron removal if your current location has a high level of iron in the public water supply, and want to be protected against rust. And because it is in the form of pellets it has an increased solubility.
4.Morton Potassium Chloride Pellets – The best salt-free alternative
This is an alternative to normal sodium chloride water softeners salt. It is not necessarily a salt because the sodium is replaced with potassium. This works exactly the same as the sodium option but the only downside is that it requires more maintenance.
The potassium chloride pellets are 99% sodium-free and they reduce the chloride discharge up to 20% more efficiently than sodium chloride. This salt-free option is also better for the environment and for people on diets. You can recycle the wastewater and use it as a fertilizer. Also, you can now drink the water and cook with it without worrying about the extra sodium.
This is the best option for people who care about the environment and want salt-free soft water inside their household. But this is pricier than the other types and requires you to maintain your brine tank more often.
5. Diamond Crystal Water Softener Salt Bright & Soft Series Pellets
This type of softener salt contains pellets with a 99.8% purity which help to extend the life of your appliances, fixtures, and pipes. And will result in a higher grade softening. With the soft water that it produces, your skin and hair will feel softer and will feel less itchy than before.
Also, it has a water solubility greater than 99.7% which means it’s made specifically to prevent bridging and mushing. Leaving your water softener clean and trouble-free.
Each bag comes with a patented two-handle making it easier for carrying and lifting around.
The price is higher but you get more purity and overall a higher quality softening process. This option is good for people who want high-grade products but don’t care about the price. And also don’t want to worry about any maintenance involving the salt tank.
Here’s a useful video explaining how this type of water softener salt is made.
How To Choose The Best Water Softener Salt – Buying Guide
How do you know what kind of water softener salt you need to buy? That’s what this topic is all about, guiding you in order to make the best decision.
First of all, let’s learn more about the water softener salt.
Salt plays a vital role in the whole water softening process because it helps with the regeneration of the resin beads. So in order to get a better idea, this is how a water softener works:
The water from your supply gets in the resin tank, inside it, there are tons of resin beads which are made out of polymer. After water makes contact with the resin a process called ion exchange happens.
Ions are electrical particles which come to life when minerals disintegrate in water. The ion exchange process is pretty commonly used in the industry today. With the help of resins, it can remove the unwanted ions from a solution and it replaces them with an equal amount of a different type of ion.
In the case of a water softener, it removed the problematic minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and others. Then it replaces them with sodium ions.
Those bad minerals can only cause problems, the most commonly known is scale build-up, which can affect negatively all of your household pipes. And ultimately can clog them and reduce the life of your appliances.
So what has salt to do with all of this? Well, as I said it does a pretty important job, those resin beads in time will get “dirty”. This is where the softener salt comes in play, during the regeneration process it clean the resin from bad minerals. So when the softening process starts again they are ready to “work” again.
Water softener salt types
It is created by the evaporation of salty waters like seawater which contain dissolved sodium chloride.
This type is the most unprocessed salt out of all, it’s packaged almost in the same stage as it was mined underground with very little processing. Most of the time it contains impurities like gypsum and sylvite.
This is why it’s not the most recommended to use, since it may contain other minerals which can decrease performance. Rock salt compared to others will give you more sodium chloride per dollar.
There is a reason why water softener salts producers sell it because it’s cheap and does its job. But the downside is that it needs more maintenance because of its insolubility and the containment of impurities.
So it really depends on your needs, if you’re on a budget and want a product that does the job well this is the right type for you. Of course, if the extra maintenance doesn’t bother you.
Solar salt is created by an evaporation process, and it all starts with brine or a saltwater mix. It can be found in two forms either by crystal or pellets.
That brine can be made by pumping down water in an underground pound in order to dissolve the salt. Or it can simply be seawater. The brine is moved into large outdoor pounds which are exposed to the sunlight. Then the pond is warmed by the solar light and the water evaporates.
What’s left behind?
A purified salt crystal which is collected by the manufacturer, and that’s how you made solar salt. Then it’s transferred to a factory where it first goes through a rinsing process which removes contaminants like algae and dust.
Next, the salt crystal is rolled through a series of sortings screen with progressively smaller openings. Which classifies it into three grades course, medium and fine.
In order to make water softener salt pellets, the medium grade along with certain additives is transferred to a press which gives them the shape. Those additives help a water softener perform better.
And because it is made from brine the manufacturer can get rid of impurities. Now, this is an obvious thing to say but, solar salt purity is always going to be greater than that of rock salt. And if we talk number the purity of solar salt will generally be higher than 99.5% sodium chloride.
Of course, this all comes at a price, all of these processes in which the water softener salt goes through are expensive. So it comes down to this, you pay a higher price for solar salt but you won’t have problems with insolubility.
Potassium chloride (KCL)
It is an alternative to regular salt for water softeners, which is almost as effective. This type of regenerant doesn’t use salt to produce brine it is done with potassium as the name suggest. Meaning that less sodium ends up in the softened water which makes it more usable for drinking and cooking. People on diets will benefit from it too since the water will contain more potassium.
It is also more environment-friendly because potassium is an essential mineral for plants. Unless like sodium which may affect them negatively. You can recycle the wastewater to irrigate agricultural land.
But this type of regenerant is not perfect there are problems with briding as well, just in a different way. With sodium chloride bridging happens when there is caking of the salt above the brine level. Caking creates an empty space between the brine and salt which results in a less effective regenerant. And eventually hard water.
Bridging with potassium chloride is caused by recrystallization. So what really happens? At the bottom of the brine tank, it will create a layer of recrystallized KCl. And it can continue until a layer several inches thick is formed on the bottom of your tank.
This happens because potassium chloride solubility is dependent on temperature. It’s solubility increases with it. Recrystallization occurs dues to fluctuating in temperature, with the increase of it more Kcl is dissolved. When the temp decreases, however, the extra Kcl precipitates at the bottom of your brine tank. This precipitation combined with saturated brine creates a very hard crust.
This problem happens mostly when the water softener is outside or in a garage. And there are also solutions to this problem. To fix this issue you’ll need to keep the water softener at a constant temperature. Built-in heaters can be attached by the softener manufacturer.
Here’s also some more solution to recrystallization:
-The brine tank can be insulated just above the brine level.
-Putting the brine tank on a five to six-inch wood platform.
-Adding a piece of about 2-inch of styrofoam under the brine tank.
-Getting rid of the grind plate of the brine tank.
-When the brine has been drained you can use a broom to remove any recrystallization and the bottom of the tank. And then refilling the tank half of its capacity with new Kcl regenerant.
Water Softener Salt – Frequently Asked Questions
How much salt does a water softener use?
There is no concrete answer for everyone the usage of salt in a water softener depends on various factors:
Water hardness: This is a big factor in determining how much a water softener needs to work. The more amount of sodium is found in the water the harder job for the softener will be thus. So automatically the salt usage will increase is going to increase
Size of the family: The more family members that use soft water the more a water softener has to regenerate it’s a simple equation. The industry standard for a family of four members is a 40-lb bag of salt.
Tank size: Make sure you pick the right size of the tank because a larger one than you need can affect the efficiency of salt usage.
However, it is important to know that you can adjust most of the water softeners to use the right amount for you. The amount of salt needed for every regeneration will determine the amount of water that can be softened before needing regeneration.
So you can either increase the amount of salt so the water softener will start the regeneration sequence less frequently. Or you can decrease it and the softener will start the regeneration more frequently.
Water softener using too much salt
If you notice that your salt usage increases, then no worry there are some reasons why this happens. Here’s what might happen:
-The water that you need to soften is very hard over 10 grams per gallons of hardness.
-Your tank capacity might be way higher than the standard ones, 9″ of diameter.
-If the water that you supply to the softener has an iron level above two parts per millions.
-If you’ve modified the valve settings and made the water softener to regenerate way more often than normal.
-Your area may be going through drought conditions, you’ll need to call a specialist in order to adjust the valve to conserve water. But the salt usage will increase.
Most of the water softeners valve controls do these settings automatically for you, then you’ll just need to add salt. Most of the softener users add one 40-lb bag of salt per month.
Does water softener salt melt ice?
Yes, it does but that doesn’t mean you actually have to use it, there are better alternatives. The water softener salt is made only for this kind of equipment and it shouldn’t be used for other purposes.
You could use other types which are less expensive and do the same job. So if you’re having problems with your sidewalks during winter just buy a salt made for that propose.
Which water softener salt is best?
This depends on everyone needs but for the most users salt pellets are the best choice, they will extend the water softener life and will ensure that it works efficiently. Using pellets you can almost forget about maintenance because they have a high solubility level.
However, if you’re concerned about the environment, you should go for the salt-free alternative. The soft water can be used for cooking and drinking, and you can recycle the wastewater and use it as a fertilizer.
Why is there standing water in my water softener salt tank?
You may be concerned about seeing water in your brine tank but it’s not the same for everyone. It depends on your household water usage. For example, for the families that don’t use much soft water, this is common. But it can also be a problem too.
Either the water is not being drawn after regeneration or the components which regulate the water might allow the tank to overfill.
Here’s a list with the malfunctions that can cause this problem:
The brine tank may have a clog:
The brine well has some horizontal slots which allow water to get in and out. When the clog happens at the bottom of the tank it restricts the flow of water which will also decrease the salt absorption rate and its way out. Make sure there is no bridging inside your tank.
This is a known problem especially if your water contains high levels of iron, you can fix it by pulling out the injector and clean it. You need to use something small like a wooden toothpick, but not made from metal so you won’t damage the injector by altering the size of the cable.
Just lookout for a small hole which regulates intake using suction. Cleaning products can be used for cleaning but if you can’t do it you’ll have to replace it. a Recommended product is Calcium lime rust.
Clogged drain flow control
Another issue with high levels of iron, you first have to check if the line is working. Then disconnect it and look if the valve control is clogged. Then start cleaning it from any buildup and you’ve fixed the problem.
The Incoming brine line hose is disconnected
Inside your brine well, there is a float which controls the brine level. When the water line is not well connected, the water flow will not be stoped by the float at the appropriate level. Check if both float and the line are attached.
Problems with the Brine level control
If the line and float are well connected, you may need to check the float itself to see if it has not become clogged. When it becomes clogged then it can’t move freely so better start to clean it. You should see a cap at the top of your brine tank, if it’s missing then salt can get into the well and clogs happen.
The spacer stack or pistons have a malfunction.
With time they will start to get damaged, there’s not you can do to stop this. You can check if they work properly by disconnecting the brine and drain line then leave the valve working. If water starts to flow above the valve then you’ll have to replace then. But you can’t do this operation by yourself just call a professional to do it.
Does a water softener make the water salty?
It’s obvious why you may have concerns about this, but you’re not literally drinking saltwater after it gets softened. You shouldn’t be able to taste salt in soft water, it doesn’t matter that you use salt. When the ion exchange process happens it removes minerals like calcium and magnesium and it’s exchanged with sodium (Na.)
So keep this in mind salt is (NaCl) while sodium is only (Na).
Sodium can be a problem only if you have high blood pressure, consult a doctor in order to see your recommended sodium intake. Alternatively, you can use the salt-free option.
With this information, you can surely make a decision best fitted for your needs. Make sure to read every option in order to make sure that you’ve found the best salt for your softener. An average water softener user uses 40lb of salt every month but for you may need more depending on your family size. But you can safely go for the 50lb bag too, it’s better to safe than sorry. The best salt for the average user is the Morton pellet type.
If I’ve missed any question that you had please leave it the comments.