When water falls from the sky, it is relatively pure. However, it can seep through the ground and into waterways, picking up impurities along the way. Calcium carbonate is a particular culprit for increasing water hardness.
Water softeners counteract the “hardness” by using salts that interact with contributing ions. Potassium or sodium chloride pellets both trap these ions and thereby remove their effect.
In turn, the type of softener salt is just as important as its chemical composition. Here, we’ll go with the best water softener salt through just a few of the brands available and why you’ll love them.
Read on to find out more!
What to look out for When Buying Best Salt for Water Softener System
While they may all seem quite the same, not all water softener salts are created equal. They can come in many different varieties and composition.
In addition to overall quality based on source and manufacturing, the salts’ chemical composition can also determine whether they are fit for use with drinking water.
The best softening salts are those that are versatile, work great with every softener, and leave very little taste in your water. It can be hard to find a salt that can give you all these benefits.
Fortunately, we’ve been doing our research and can help you know what to look for. Here are some things you should keep in mind when buying some softening salts to use in your water softener.
The majority of water softening salts will be made of sodium chloride, the chemical name for table salt, minus all the additives.
This mineral is naturally occurring and easily found in salt minds or solar evaporation ponds. As brine solution with sodium chloride washes over the resin tank in a softener system, hard mineral ions like calcium and magnesium are replaced with sodium.
The hard ions then replace the sodium ions’ microscopic excavations and are “trapped” in the salts. It is useful for most applications but may not be the best choice for drinking water since it can increase your sodium intake by as much as three times your regular intake.
Potassium chloride is a more recent addition to the choices available. It can be considered a healthier alternative for those who want to soften their drinking water.
This salt is also found in nature, though its primary use is in agriculture. It works the same way as sodium chloride but softens the water with potassium ions instead of sodium. It is beneficial for health in most cases since potassium is required for proper organ, nervous, and muscular function.
Many people also face challenges in getting adequate potassium from green leafy vegetables, dairy, lean meat, and fruits such as bananas. So having potassium in the drinking water can be a bonus.
However, since extracting potassium is more difficult than mining sodium chloride, the cost can be considerably higher.
With technology constantly reforming itself, many water softening salts don’t just stick with softening your water anymore. As you may have seen in this review, some salts help clean and protect your pipelines and appliances (tubs, faucets, etc.).
Some salts help fight against rust buildup and remove excess iron in the water. It’s important to think of whether these are necessary in your case and get the type of salt you need.
Crystals Vs. Pellets
Whether you buy your salt in crystal or pellet form can also affect how well they work with your softening system. While both will work, crystals tend to be smaller and more compact. They dissolve faster in the brine tank and take a long time before causing build-ups.
They are also usually made from evaporated seawater. That way, you can be sure (in most cases) that if you have crystals, your product comes from nature.
Any type of salt can be made into pellets, but usually, they consist of evaporated salts. These are more processed and fully evaporated. They also take a long time to cause build-ups but are more likely to contain additives. On the bright side, most of the additives are FDA approved, or NSF certified, so you can still be assured your soft water is safe to use.
To find and buy the right salt for your needs, you also need to make sure you just want something for your dishwasher or intend to drink your softened water.
Dishwasher salt is different from table salt and the salt used in regular water softeners. It is much coarser and doesn’t get in the way of regular cleaning operations.
There’s no mess involved if used correctly, and they are necessary to prevent clogging. Smaller grains will get stuck easily and cause quite a problem.
Dishwasher salts are also the closest to 100% sodium chloride without any other additives. Food-grade salt is used since it’s expected that you’ll be eating from your newly washed dishes.
If you want to have water that you can use to water plants, do the laundry, and even brush your teeth, sodium chloride is the best choice. It’s quite cheap, and you won’t need to worry about adding a substantial amount of sodium to your diet.
Of course, if your plants are sensitive to sodium, you may need to switch to potassium chloride. Otherwise, you are all set.
Finally, if you plan to drink your water, be sure to use potassium chloride, especially if you are monitoring your sodium intake. The taste is also much less noticeable. Your health and tastebuds will thank you.
Since you’ll need to replace your salt at least once every three months, you must determine how much you are willing to spend. Obviously, purchasing fifty pounds of salt from a company from the other side of the country will cost you a great deal more than purchasing locally.
Choosing potassium chloride over sodium chloride can also raise how much you need to pay for your water. As mentioned before, this may still be worth it if you’re drinking that water. Purchasing from small businesses that sell their items at a wholesale price can also save you money.
Best Salt for Water Softener Reviews
Our reviews for six of the water softener salts are in high demand for their quality, efficiency, and health benefits.
1. Diamond Crystal Water Softener Salt- 40 Lb. Bag
An environment, health, and appliance friendly alternative to the every day sodium chloride used in most softening salt pellets. This is one of the purest salts you will find to soften your water and one of the few to be NSF certified.
In addition to simply softening water, it also extends the life of appliances and reduces film build-up on sinks and showers. The product is designed with your convenience in mind as it even comes in a 50% recycled, easy-to-open material bag.
99.1% of Potassium Chloride Crystals
Potassium chloride is a lot harder to find than sodium chloride and is known to be the “higher quality” salt. Due to the high sodium content already in our diet, adding NaCl to our water supply can be bad for our health.
Potassium chloride is the better choice for both drinking and watering plants. Its use as a water softener leads to clean-tasting water without a trace of saltiness.
Designed With Your Health (and Convenience) in Mind
This product is recommended for all types of water softeners. It is made naturally using sun, wind, and time to dry potassium chloride solution into crystals.
This results in a 99.6% pure product that can eliminate hardness in your water without compromising health and taste. The product also comes in an easy-to-open bag made of 50% recycled material and comes with an easy-grip handle.
One thing that is commonly noted about this product is it can produce virtually tasteless soft water. For this reason, it is certified (ANSI Standard 60) as safe to use for drinking water.
While the salt is not advised for direct addition to food products when dissolved and filtered properly, it can even be used in meat, poultry, or other food uses.
Why We Love It
It is made of potassium chloride, an all-around better choice than sodium chloride used in most other brands. This pure product is also NSF certified, so you can be assured of its quality and ability to do what it claims.
Keep In Mind
We feel the price could have been a little lower for salt. A few consumers have said the bag doesn’t last quite as long as a bag for sodium pellets.
2. Morton Salt Clean-Protect Water Softener-50 Lb. Bag
This versatile softening salt product comes in pellet form and can be used with virtually any water softener. Proper use results in pure-tasting water or close enough that the salt cannot be detected. The Clean Protect formula significantly reduces buildup in pipes and appliances without affecting your health. Those who use this salt for laundry, dishwashing, and showering have no complaints about the sodium in their water.
Patented Clean-Protect Formula Protects Appliances
This product is created with a special patented formula that helps reduce scale buildup in water heaters and pipes. Such buildup can become a huge problem, especially for less soluble salts, such as rock salt.
With this highly soluble formula, you can expect your water softener to remain in great condition for a long time.
Fit for Drinking Water*
This is the go-to salt if you want your water softener to produce drinking water. It is good enough for even those on a low-sodium diet. It differs from standard sodium chloride pellets, which almost triple the amount of sodium in water.
Many have said that they taste almost no difference in their drinking water. Also, it can leave skin and hair feeling softer and make dishes much easier to clean.
This product comes in a long-lasting bag (not made with recyclable material) that protects the pellets and allows them to be stored for a long time.
The product is manufactured by Morton, a company with a legacy in the kitchen, on the playground, and along winter sidewalks, keeping roads safe.
Why We Love It
This salt comes with great value and can be easily afforded. It is particularly gentle on appliances while removing magnesium and calcium (hard minerals) from your water. The bag is designed with a sturdy plastic handle and easy-tear opening for convenience.
Keep In Mind
If your water is tough and requires more softening, it can leave a salty taste behind sodium. Not ideal for watering plants or sensitive skin since the sodium can be detrimental to plant growth and dehydrate the skin.
3. Impresa Dishwasher/Water Softener Salt – 4.4 Lb Bag.
Dishwasher water softening salt comes in a smaller package than the rest of the salts in this review, for dishwashing applications only. It is a high-quality, coarse-grain salt that cuts through hard water residue, so no trace of minerals remains on your dishes. This product is also universally compatible, so that it WILL work with your dishwasher as well.
This product is great for its low price and high-quality, given what it is meant to do. One bag can last for a while and really works well. It is manufactured by a small wholesale company that sells quality small toys, reptile and amphibian products, and descaling solutions.
Coarse Grain Pellets Designed for Your Dishwasher
Coarse grain salts work particularly well in dishwasher water softeners. It should only be used in dishwashers with water softener containers. The consistency of these pellets is more coarse than evaporated salt (like rock salt). The quality is further seen in that there is no powdery residue from the pellets in the bag.
Clean Dishes Every Time
People have remarked how pleased they were with their dishes’ cleanness using this salt to soften their dishwasher water. The result is spotless dishes without the white film or spots left by hard minerals. Many even say their dishes literally sparkle!
Why We Love It
This is one tough product on the water supply with high iron content. The pellets are also almost entirely soluble in water. Highly effective for getting rid of rust stains in pipes or your water softener.
Keep In Mind
It contains a few additives required to fight rust, abate high iron content, and prevent mushing and bridging—no NSF certification.
4. Diamond Crystal Iron Fighter Salt Pellets- 40 Lb Bag.
These ultra-pure iron-fighter pellets are different from most regular salt pellets. They help combat iron deposits that can sometimes be present in excess in municipal water. While it softens the water, it also prevents rust stains from forming in pipes and appliances. It is recommended for all types of water softeners.
Fights Rust Stains
The presence of rust often indicates high iron content in water. It can be quite common in city water supplies and private wells. This unique softener salt comes with an FDA-approved additive that helps prevent rust stains in laundry machines, sinks, and appliances.
Highly Water Soluble
This salt also helps prevent other types of staining and buildup from forming due to its high solubility. Its manufacturers claim virtually 100% solubility, and from what many people have said, it’s actually quite true.
The iron-fighting water softening pellets are stored and delivered in a patented two-handle bag to make lifting and carrying easier. It is recommended for most types of water softeners.
Why We Love It
This fluoride water filter lasts for up to a year and is easy to maintain. It is designed and manufactured in the USA. It has high-quality customer service and comes with a great user manual.
Keep In Mind
It is on the larger side for an under-sink RO system. You have to use the faucet given. It can be challenging to install if you are not familiar with basic plumbing or tools.
5. Diamond Crystal Iron Fighter Salt Pellets- 40 Lb Bag.
These multipurpose water softening pellets are some of the most efficient since they are nearly 100% water-soluble. This makes them gentle on appliances and assures that they will not cause damage the brine tank even after prolonged use of the water softening system.
The pellets also come in an environment-friendly bag made of 50% recycled material and layers of reground resin and a study “2-handle” handle.
Highly Water Soluble
These compacted water softening pellets contain a special formula preventing mushing and bridging in the brine tank. Its >99.7% water solubility helps to keep your softening system clean and flowing freely.
Easy to Work With
This product comes in a patented two-handle bag to make lifting and carrying easier than ever. The Bright and Soft pellets work with most water softeners. The bag is also effortless to open.
Delivers Quality Soft Water
The Supersoft® guarantee with this product means that it will help to remove most of the hard minerals from your water. The product itself comprises 99.8% pure salt and can even transform the hardest water into the water you can use for almost anything.
Why We Love It
Virtually 100 percent water-soluble, these compacted pellets are specially formulated to prevent mushing and bridging in the brine tank – helping to keep your softener clean and trouble-free… easy to use (environment-friendly) packaging.
Keep In Mind
It contains an additive to prevent mushing and to bridge in the salt keeper, which, while NSF certified, is not publicly disclosed.
6. Diamond Crystal Solar Naturals Softener Salt- 50 Lb Bag.
This convenient product is affordable, easy to find and made from the salt that comes from seawater. The solubility of solar salt is between evaporated salts we saw earlier in this review and rock salt, which is somewhat low insolubility. It works just as great for those who do not require intensive softening.
The product also comes in polyethylene bags with polyethylene film liners for moisture protection.
Natural Salt from Seawater
This salt comes from natural seawater, is coarse screened, and crystalline. It is a high purity salt with 99.6% sodium chloride crystals dried up by sun and wind. It’s especially great since it contains absolutely no additives whatsoever.
Food-Grade and Multi-purpose
This is a food-grade salt that can be used for softening drinking water with minimal waste. In filtered brine form, it can be used to process meat and poultry and make olives and pickles. In a more concentrated form, the same salt can be used in hiding, curing, and removing snow and ice along winter sidewalks.
Packaged with Care
Special care is given to packaging this product for shipping. The salt is placed in a polyethylene bag to retain moisture. The bag also contains polyethylene film liners for enhanced moisture protection.
Why We Love It
This product comes in crystal form (from seawater), which are much smaller than pellets, and thus less likely to cause buildup within your softening system. Solubility tends to be higher than rock salts and slightly lower than evaporated salts.
Keep In Mind
The only thing the crystals do is soften water. They don’t do anything special to ensure your appliances do not get damaged or prevent rust from high iron content. Water is not intended for drinking, in most cases.
Frequently Asked Question and Answered
Fifty pounds of salt is too much for me at once. Are there any smaller sized bags I can purchase?
For sure! While some brands come in only one size, there are quite a few with more than one to choose from. For example, the Morton Clean and Protect comes in 25, 40, 44, and 50 lb. Bags.
This is especially helpful if you know you won’t be using that much since you only need a little softening. Most of the Diamond Crystal products are also available in both 40 and 50-pound bags. Be sure to go on the manufacturer’s official website to check all of the choices for sizes available.
Is the taste left behind by the sodium (or even potassium) ions really that noticeable?
The taste left behind by sodium is definitely more detectable than the trace left by potassium. Moreover, there are serious negative side effects of drinking excess sodium in the water supply.
The risk can be avoided by using potassium chloride, which releases potassium ions that are good for human, and even plant, health.
The use of potassium over sodium chloride is also better for the environment as brine discharge will have less impact on waterways. Potassium being a nutrient people often do not get enough of; it may even be helpful!
Why do I need to soften my water?
Hard water affects your health as well as the “health” of your water appliances. It can even raise the price of the water you use by as much as two or three times. Irritation can result when it comes in contact with sensitive skin.
It is certainly not something you’d want to be drinking. These problems can be reduced by eliminating or reducing the number of hard mineral ions that get into the water supply.
Before we wrap up, let me reiterate why some water softener salts are just simply the best.
The Diamond Crystal Water Softener made from pure potassium chloride is truly a complete package. Not only does it soften your water by getting rid of hard mineral ions. It also improves your water taste and provides nutritional benefits for your body and any plants you might be caring for.
Without any additives required, it helps to prolong the life of your appliances and prevents build-up. In fact, the only real complaint anyone can have about it is the bagging!
If you’re looking for something more affordable at the moment, Morton Salt CleanProtect is the best sodium chloride water softener you could come across.
It works wonders in reducing the hardness of your water while keeping your softener working smoothly. It also works with virtually all water softener systems. What’s not to want?