water softener salt types

Water softeners equipment doesn’t come cheap, so it’s important that you treat and handle it right. 

A water softener replaces the soft water minerals, calcium, and magnesium, in your water with either or potassium or sodium. Only special salt can be used for this purpose which means you cannot use the Himalayan table salt that has been sitting and collecting dust in your top left drawer. Yes, the one above the stove.

The type of salt affects what’s in the water.

Water softeners work well when you use either sodium chloride or potassium chloride. In terms of sales, the two run neck and neck but the fact is that both do the same job and are naturally occurring minerals.

Sodium Chloride

sodium chloride for water softening

This water softener salt is available in several different forms such as pellets, crystals, and cubes.  The most commonly used sodium chloride water softener are salt pellets. Besides being readily available, sodium chloride is widely used because it has lower cost implications compared to potassium pellets. 

Salt pellets are made when water is forced down into the earth where there are naturally occurring salt deposits. The salt gets dissolved by the water and then the brine solution is pumped to the earth’s surface. It is then exposed to a process of heat and vacuum evaporation to produce the purest type of salt, 99.9% sodium chloride.

This is the reason why salt pellets remain the preferred type of salt for water softening applications. Largely because of their exceptional purity, your equipment will rarely experience mushing or bridging. Additionally, you might never need to clean out the brine tank during its entire lifespan.

Potassium Chloride

Potassium chloride is a good alternative to sodium chloride if you don’t want to have any residue of sodium in your water.  It, however, works in the same way as sodium chloride works in terms of water softening.

The main difference is that instead of replacing the hard water with salt/sodium, it gets replaced with potassium. This is an essential nutrient with an important role in the health system of human beings and crucial for plant growth.

Water softener crystals that are potassium based are a good option if you have health issues that are sodium-related or if you have concerns about environmental effects. The price of potassium chloride softeners is, however, is higher.

Solar Salt Crystals

If your unit uses zeolite, then solar salt is highly recommended as additives found in other salt types can damage the zeolite media. Besides having absolutely no additives, iron-fighting ingredients or resin cleaners, solar salt is readily available and is also among the more affordable water softener solutions.

This type of salt is created through a process of evaporating naturally occurring brine. The brine ponds get exposed to the wind and sun over time until the brine develops into a solid mass. This type of water softener is generally cleaner although it may lack the same levels of purity as salt pellets.


Your water softener units need careful maintenance to keep producing good soft water as well as for extending their service life. 

Softening your water comes with many benefits. This includes lowering the utility bill, preserving the efficiency of your water units, decreasing the build-up of mineral in pipes, and crust build-up bathtubs, in faucets, and showerheads. Similar to most things, it pays to spend a little more if you want quality. 


If your system works best when using a specific type of softening salt, then it best to keep using that type. If, however, you want to try or experiment with a different type of salt, its best to wait until your softener unit goes empty prior to switching to a new type.