Buying Salt for your water softener?
You are in the right place.
A water softener cleans rusty well water, removes sulfer odors, and eliminates minerals that can damage your appliances and clog your home’s pipes – but only when used with a suitable softener salt.
The quality of softener salt plays a critical role in determining how well you can soften home tap water.
Softener salts come in many forms – rock salt, sea salt, salt pellets, crystals to saltless softeners that use potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride.
This range of options can make it challenging to choose the best salt for your home’s water softener.
And while buying salt for a water softener may seem simple, if you pick a random bag at your local store, you may not get the best value for money nor the best quality.
But don’t worry, in this guide we walk you through everything you need to know to select the best salt for your specific water softener, considering the quality of your local water source.
What’s In This Buying Guide
- 1 What’s In This Buying Guide
- 2 Best Salts for A Water Softener
- 3 1. Best Performance: Morton Clean & Protect II
- 4 2. Healthiest Choice: Morton Potassium Chloride Pellets
- 5 3. Best All-Natural Pick: Cargill Salt 7304
- 6 4. Best Rust Protection: Morton Rust Defense Pellets
- 7 5. Easiest to Handle & Lift: Morton Salt 1499 Clean Protect
- 8 6. Most Versatile: Rust Out Water Softener Cleaner
- 9 7. Best Potassium Salt: Diamond Crystal Water softener
- 10 8. Very Pure: Morton U26624S Water Softening Crystals
- 11 Buying Guide
- 12 Frequently Asked Questions
- 13 Final Verdict: What is the best salt for water softeners sold today?
In this guide, we review the top salts for water softeners you can find online and in leading retail stores to help you find a product right for you.
We also discuss the features and considerations to think about when purchasing softener salt – including a FAQ section that answers common questions.
My goal is to make it easy for you to find the right product in 5 minutes or less.
So let’s begin w/ my favorite products for a variety of needs and situations:
Best Salts for A Water Softener
- Best Performance: Morton Clean & Protect II
- Healthiest Choice: Morton Potassium Chloride Pellets
- Best All-Natural: Cargill Salt 7304
- Best Rust Protection: Morton Rust Defense Pellets
- Easiest to Handle: Morton Salt 1499 Clean Protect
- Most Versatile: Rust Out Water Softener Cleaner
- Best Potassium Salt: Diamond Crystal Water Softener
- Purist Salt: Morton U26624S Water Softening Crystals
Morton Clean & Protect II
- Best Performance
Morton Potassium Chloride Pellets
- Healthiest Choice
Cargill Salt 7304
- Best All-Natural
Morton Rust Defense Pellets
- Best Rust Protection
Morton Salt 1499 Clean Protect
- Easiest to Handle
Rust Out Water Softener Cleaner
- Most Versatile
Diamond Crystal Water Softener
- Best Potassium Salt
Morton U26624S Water Softening Crystals
- Purist Salt
1. Best Performance: Morton Clean & Protect II
One of the best salts for water softeners, the Morton Clean and Protect II efficiently softens very hard water.
As a result, this not only protects your water pipes and fixtures but also improves the taste of your water.
- Purest form of salt
- Softens even the hardest water
- Less frequent maintenance
- Better water taste
- No residue
- Helps you save on cleaners and detergents
- Easy and straightforward to use
- You’ll need 1-2 bags per month
These evaporated pellets from Morton come in the purest form of salt. They easily dissolve in water, preventing bridging that can affect your water softener’s performance.
With no impurities like earth or rock in these pellets, the Morton Clean and Protect II ensures there is no residue build-up in the water softener, which could shorten the lifespan of your unit or require more frequent maintenance.
By using the Morton Clean and Protect II, you can prevent scaling in pipes, improve the performance of washing machines and dishwashers, and eliminate rust stains in toilets and on faucets.
These Morton water softening pellets come in a 40-pound bag, and you might need to add 2-4 bags to your water softener every month, depending on the size of your household.
2. Healthiest Choice: Morton Potassium Chloride Pellets
Conventional water softener salts are not an option for people who suffer from high blood pressure or other health conditions that stipulate a reduced salt diet.
These potassium chloride pellets from Morton are an ideal alternative.
- 99% sodium-free
- Convenient handle
- Does not affect daily salt intake
- Works great
Morton potassium chloride pellets are 99% sodium-free, which ensures that they do not adversely affect the daily salt intake of your family members while adding blood pressure-lowering potassium to your water.
These pellets are an excellent solution to soften hard water. They help prevent scaling inside appliances or on pipes while making the detergents and soaps used in your home sudsier and more effective.
The pellets are available in 40-pound bags with a built-in handle that makes carrying the bag easy and convenient.
3. Best All-Natural Pick: Cargill Salt 7304
The Cargill Salt 7304 water softener salt is made by dehydrating seawater with sun and wind to create a product that contains no additives. It is an excellent product for people who want to use an all-natural product in their water softener.
- 99.6% pure
- Efficient and cleaner than rock salt
- No bridging, mushing, or channeling
- Easy-to-open bag
- Polythene packaging to provide moisture protection
- No handle or pour spout
Like other products, the Cargill Salt 7304 softens water to help prevent scaling in plumbing and the formation of film in bathtubs and sinks. It helps extend the life and ensures the excellent performance of water-consuming appliances like dishwashers and washing machines.
This salt is 99.6% pure, allowing it to resist mushing and bridging. It comes in 40-pounds bags and is very easy to use.
4. Best Rust Protection: Morton Rust Defense Pellets
Specially designed for use with high iron water, the Morton Rust Defense Water Softener Pellets remove 15 times more iron than plain salt. As a result, you not only get to enjoy great-tasting water but fewer rust stains on your appliances and laundry.
- Improves the taste of water
- Prevents rust stains on appliances and laundry
- Excellent packaging
- Prevents scale build-up in water heaters and pipes
- Handle makes carrying the bag convenient
The Morton Clean and Protect Rust Defense is designed to make it easier to carry, open, and pour. The sturdy plastic handle makes lifting and carrying it more comfortable. Having soft water with less iron build-up helps improve a number of elements in your home.
It helps improve the water taste and prevents scale build-up in pipes and water heaters. Plus, it keeps your appliances and laundry free of rust stains.
It efficiently softens water, which reduces the amount of soap you need to clean your clothes. There will be fewer rust stains on your appliances, your hair and skin will feel softer, and your dishes will look cleaner.
5. Easiest to Handle & Lift: Morton Salt 1499 Clean Protect
Carrying a 40-pound bag and hoisting it into a brine tank once or twice a month is not an easy task. Weighing just 25 pounds, the Morton 1499 Clean Protect is great for people who have back problems or struggle with heavier loads.
- Improves efficiency and extends the life of water heaters and appliances
- Prevents build-up in pipes and appliances
- Helps clean the water softener while removing hard water minerals
- Recommended by various water softener manufacturers
- Built-in handle
- Costs as much as heavier salt bags
This lightweight bag is designed to provide maximum comfort to users. Its low weight makes it easy to carry, while the built-in handle makes it easier to grip and pour.
Consisting of evaporated pellets, Morton 1499 is 100% pure salt and leaves hardly any residue to clean up. This salt efficiently softens very hard water as it contains fewer impurities. It also helps eliminate staining in sinks and faucets.
This salt also helps enhance your water heaters’ performance by eliminating impurities like calcium nitrate that make it harder to heat the water.
6. Most Versatile: Rust Out Water Softener Cleaner
The Rust Out water softener cleaner is highly versatile.
In addition to being specifically designed for high-iron water, this salt can remove rust stains from showers, tubs, sinks, and toilets.
It also helps restore your saltwater softener’s performance.
- Combats high iron levels present in the water
- Removes rust and rust stains
- Helps maintain the efficiency of your water softener
- Easy to use
- Restores softener performance
- Takes time to show results
The Rust Out water softener cleaner is specially formulated to eliminate high iron content from the water. It also takes care of the orange stains this water can cause in bathtubs, toilets, faucets, and even clothing.
It also works as an additive to existing water softener salt. You can add Ruse Out to the system either by layering half a cup of it between two softener salt bags weighing 40 pounds or making a solution and adding it to the brine well.
The Rust Out softener takes several weeks to show results. But once it starts to work, you will see clear water and your sinks, tubs, and faucets, etc., will be rust-free. You will no longer need to scrub these things with rust removal cleaners.
The Rust Out cleaner is available in a 22-ounce bottle, which is enough for 5 treatments.
7. Best Potassium Salt: Diamond Crystal Water softener
Potassium chloride crystals are an efficient substitute for sodium chloride.
The Diamond Crystal Water Softener consists of 99.1% pure potassium crystals that work as smoothly as salt-based water softeners.
- Excellent performance
- Water tastes great
- Water can be used for plants and pets
- Easy-to-open bags
- Low sodium alternative
- Available in 40-pound bags
- Recommended for all kinds of water softeners
- Cost can add up over time
If you do not like the taste of salt in your water, these Diamond Crystal Water softeners are the ideal option. These crystals work similarly to normal sodium chloride water crystals to effectively soften water. They also help reduce your water softener’s maintenance cost.
Salt can be very bad for plants. By adding potassium chloride to your water, you can comfortably use the water for your plants and animals. Appliances and household fixtures will also no longer have rust stains on them. Plus, your valves and pipes won’t get clogged as often as before.
8. Very Pure: Morton U26624S Water Softening Crystals
Harvested naturally from saltwater, the Morton U26624S is an all-natural choice for softening water. It contains highly pure sodium chloride, which helps prevent mineral build-up in pipes and appliances.
- Pure and natural
- Works with all water softeners
- Helps keep your dishes and laundry shining
- Ensures efficient working of your water softener
- Too expensive
If you are looking for a natural solution to your hard water problem, the Morton U26624S Water Softening Crystals are for you.
This highly pure and completely natural product not only prevents hard water spots on household fixtures and dishes but also prevents mineral build-up in home plumbing and water heaters.
These crystals also ensure that your soap and detergent lather better, ensuring brighter, cleaner, and softer laundry.
What Is Water Softener Salt and How Does It Work?
Water purification tablets will kill unwanted things in the water, whereas the ion exchange system in a water softener uses ions to soften hard water.
Water softener salt typically uses a metal salt to ionize and break-down the minerals that make your water hard, causing them to consolidate and fall out of your water.
In this process, the minerals responsible for making water hard are technically converted into salt ions.
This exchange occurs within the resin tank of the water softener.
As hard water flows into the tank, it comes into contact with small resin beads covered in salt ions.
As water passes through the resin beads, mineral ions are exchanged with salt ions. This softens, or demineralizes, your tap water and adds a bit of salt to your water supply.
With continuous use, the resin beads that trap the mineral ions lose their effectiveness in time.
This is where softener salt comes into play.
You can recharge your resin beads by adding salt pellets, crystals, or tablets to the water softener’s brine tank.
This new supply of salt ions replaces the mineral ions inside the brine tank and causes the excess minerals to be flushed out of the bin and into your wastewater drain.
Types of Salt for Water Softeners
The most common types of salts for water softeners are:
As is evident from the name, this type of salt is mined from the sea. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘solar salt’ because of its manufacturing process.
A pond filled with seawater is exposed to sunlight and wind, which causes it to become increasingly concentrated. As a result, the salt within hardens into a solid block containing salt crystals.
Sea salt is more soluble than other types of salt and is available in up to 99.5% pure form. It is cheaper and more widely available. The high percentage of impurities present in sea salt prevents it from easily dissolving in hard water, making it highly suitable for minor water softening needs.
Rock salt pieces are irregularly shaped pieces of salt that look like rock. They are easily available and fairly affordable.
Although rock salt is cheaper, it is not as pure as the other expensive salts available. This is because of the significant amount of calcium sulfate present in rock salts.
It does not dissolve as well in water as other purer softener salts and leaves behind a residue in the softener’s brine basin, which causes the formation of salt bridges.
This can clog up your brine tank and will require regular cleaning and maintenance of your water softener. Plus, rock salt mining has caused environmental activists to raise issues regarding the formation of sinkholes and the contamination of ecosystems.
Potassium chloride is an excellent alternative to salt softeners and is suitable for people with high blood pressure or other health concerns related to salt. Potassium not only softens water but also aids in lowering blood pressure.
A lot of people use potassium chloride as a water softener because they feel that regular salt pallets adversely affect their health. Ions in your brine tank flow into your water supply as a result of the softening process.
However, potassium chloride is considered more of a water conditioner rather than a water softener. It does not remove the mineral concentrations present in the water but crystallizes it.
Although this stops hard water from creating scale in your pipes, experts do not consider it truly effective. Also, potassium chloride costs more than other water softeners.
Many manufacturers consider evaporated salt the best salt for water softeners. These 99.99% pure salt pellets are made by refining salt crystals into sodium chloride.
Because it is so pure, using evaporated salt ensures less strict brine tank maintenance requirements.
This salt does not form bridges or gets mushy, ensuring optimum performance and the long life of your water softener. However, evaporated salt is costlier than other such products.
What to Look For
When searching for the best water softener salt, it is vital to keep the following considerations in mind:
The amount and type of salt that is best for your home depends on the hardness of the water and the size of the household.
If yours is a small household with just 2 people, you do not require much salt in your water softener. Just two 40-pound bags of salt in your water softener every two months should be enough.
Families of 4 will need almost three 40-pound bags after every two months. Meanwhile, large families will require four 40-pound bags every two months.
Water with high levels of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, will need more salt. For instance, a 4-person home that typically uses 3 bags of salt every two months will need 4 or more bags in case the home has particularly hard water.
Homes with hard water should use evaporated salt pellets to get the most out of each salt load.
Different salt types provide different options for various budgets. The form of salt you choose to use in your water softening system creates more impact than you might imagine. The two main forms of water softener salts are crystals and pellets.
Salt or softener crystals are made by solar evaporation. In this process, a mixture of water, salt, and brine is exposed to the wind and sun. This eliminates water and just leaves behind the salt.
Salt crystals are generally recommended for use in homes that have a two-part water system or a lower monthly usage. They are white and hard in appearance.
Using salt crystals in systems with more frequent water usage can cause a salt bridge to form in the brine tank. This creates an empty space between the water and salt and prevents the salt from dissolving into the water.
As a result, the resin beads do not work properly in the ion exchange process as there is no sodium-brine water.
Water softener pellets are made with the help of evaporation. Steam and water are used to create crystals, and once they are dried and screened, these crystals are turned into pellets. A large number of pellets are made by adding citric acid.
This common cleaning agent prevents mineral build-up in your water softening system and pipes, protecting them from damage.
Plus, citric acid does not affect the quality or taste of your soft water.
Salt available in pellet form is suitable for homes with high water usage, so if your water usage is above moderate, you will find pellets to be more efficient. Also, pellets are better if you have an all-in-one tank system.
Make sure you do not find drinking slightly saltier water distasteful before investing in a water softener salt. If you are not a fan of such taste, you should buy potassium chloride salt as it is not as salty as sodium chloride.
Another vital factor that can affect your choice of softener salt is your budget.
Older water softeners and very hard water make you go through salt much quicker than new machines in softer water. This can really rack up the price if you do not keep a check on it.
A number of affordable and effective salt softeners available in the market deliver an excellent performance that is in no way inferior to the performance of the more expensive ones.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Salt-Based for Water Softeners
As with everything else, salt-based water softeners come with their advantages and disadvantages.
- Ensures healthier hair and skin: Hard water damages your hair and dries out your skin. By eliminating harmful impurities, a salt-based water softener can prevent that damage.
- Improves water heater performance: Calcium build-up clogs up water supply pipes. Since calcium is not a conductor of heat, its presence in water can make your heater work harder to warm up the water, which in turn can raise your utility bills and shorten your water heater’s life. The water softening process eliminates calcium and prevents these problems.
- Improves taste: Salt-based water softeners help remove bad tastes caused by magnesium, iron, fluoride, and other chemicals and minerals, making it more palatable and safer to drink.
- Makes cleaning easier: Water softeners ensure that there are no hard water stains on appliances, fixtures, or clothes.
- Improves soap performance: Soaps work best with soft water, allowing washing machines and dishwashers to do a much better job of cleaning clothes and dishes. With salt-based water softeners, you also require a fewer amount of soap and detergent.
- Expensive: Salt-based water softeners are quite expensive than their salt-free counterparts. Also, if you live in an area with harder water, you will go through softening salt much faster, drastically increasing the water softener’s operating cost.
- Require regular maintenance: These softeners require regular maintenance to work optimally. You will need to keep a check on the resin bed and clean it regularly and replace it every 5-10 years. You will also need to replenish the salt in your water softener regularly.
- Water may taste salty: Using salt in your water softeners may change the taste of the water. You should be prepared to drink salty water. You can use potassium instead of salt, but that will increase the cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will different types of salt affect my water softener?
The type of salt you use in your water softener definitely affects your water softener. Although all salts soften hard water, salts available in pellet form are more efficient as they are purer. Salts that consist of earth and rock leave residue inside the water softener, requiring regular cleaning.
Should I use salt or potassium in my water softener?
When we talk about value for money, salt is the more feasible option as it is economical and efficient.
When you use salt in your water softener, it does not regenerate often. As a result, less salt is used, making salt more cost-effective and efficient than potassium.
Potassium, on the other hand, is pricier and less efficient than salt. Plus, the unit will need to regenerate more frequently.
However, salt can be harmful to your health, whereas potassium is a healthy nutrient. Potassium is more eco-friendly and, when disposed of, can be absorbed by plants. Meanwhile, salt just adds to land waste.
Should I use salt pellets or crystals in my water softener?
Salt pellets and crystals are both efficient in softening the water; however, using pellets creates fewer problems.
Salt crystals can cause bridging in the brine tank, whereas pellets are larger and do not cause bridging. Also, crystals work great for a two-part water softening unit, while pellets are best for all-in-one softening units.
How do I check the purity of water softener salt?
Some water softener salts contain a high amount of impurities or water-insoluble matter. This can cause build-up in your reservoir or result in your softener malfunctioning. As a result, you will need to clean up your brine tank more frequently.
So, before buying salt for your water softener, it is best to check its purity level. Manufacturers typically provide on the packet label. Read the information provided on the salt pack to ensure you get the highest purity level.
Final Verdict: What is the best salt for water softeners sold today?
After comprehensively reviewing a number of salts for water softeners, we think the Morton Potassium Chloride Pellets to be the best option.
They not only soften the water effectively but also ensure great-tasting water.
Plus, people with salt-related health issues can safely use these pellets.