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Best Water Softener Salts of 2022

Updated
Trying to combat hard water? You’ll need salt for your water softening system.

Installing a water softener will help protect your home’s plumbing and prevent the unsightly stains that are often left by high mineral content. Softeners can be quite expensive, so it is important to ensure they work as intended.

Water softener salt, or sodium chloride, is a vital part of these systems. It cleans the system regularly so it can continue tackling your hard water issues. However, not every type of salt is suitable for use in a softener.

To help you find the best salt for your unit, our water softener salt reviews take a closer look at three of the top-rated products today, chosen for their type, effectiveness, and cost. We have also shared some tips to keep in mind when searching for softener salt.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Morton Salt Morton-Rust-40 Morton F124700000g Clean & Protect/Rust Defense Water Softener Pellets, 40 Lb, Plain
Best Overall
Morton Salt Rust Defense
  • 15x stronger than standard salt
  • Easy-pour bag
  • Readily available
Product Image of the Morton U26624S Pure AND Natural Water Softening Crystals, 40-Pound,White
Best Natural Salt
Morton Salt Pure & Natural Crystals
  • Easy-open bag
  • All-natural
  • Reduces mineral buildup
Product Image of the Morton Morton-40D System Water Softener, 50 lbs, White, 50 lbs
Best Choice of Size
Morton Salt Clean & Protect
  • Protects household appliances
  • Recommended by leading manufacturers
  • Could extend water softener lifespan


Product Reviews

Many water softener manufacturers produce their own softener salt to work with their systems. However, there are also many alternatives to these that should work with your softener. After conducting extensive research, we have chosen our top three softener salts, based on their type, effectiveness, and value for money.

1. Morton Salt Clean & Protect/Rust Defense

Best Overall

If you notice a metallic taste in your water or rust stains in your bathtub or sink, it might be due to iron in your water.

Although a water softener will remove minerals from your water supply, iron can sometimes get through. This is usually more noticeable if your water supply comes from a well (1).

To address this, you need a softener salt for iron removal. Morton claims this product will remove 15 times more iron than standard salt. This is based on each regeneration cycle and internal laboratory testing.

Pros

  • 15x more powerful than standard salt
  • Easy-pour bag for topping up your system
  • Easy to find

Cons

  • Only available in a 40-pound bag

Product Specs

Weight 40 pounds
Size 19 inches x 13 inches x 4 inches
Type Pellets

2. Morton Pure and Natural

Best Natural Salt

This crystal salt product from Morton is solar salt, which means it has been sun-dried from seawater or another source of brine (2).

Morton states that these salts are all-natural and high-purity. This will help prevent mineral buildup in your home’s plumbing and appliances. It could also prevent hard water stains, make your laundry softer, and make your soaps and detergents lather better for more effective cleaning.

Pros

  • Easy-open bag
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Prevents mineral buildup

Cons

  • Some users complain of a sulphuric smell.

Product Specs

Weight 40 pounds
Size 12 inches x 25 inches x 3.5 inches
Type Crystals

3. Morton Salt Clean Protect System Water Softener

Best Choice of Size

If you want multiple size options when shopping for softening salt, this Morton product is for you.

Morton offers four different bag weights to choose from: 25, 40, 44, and 50 pounds. This means you can tailor your purchase to reflect the amount of water you use and your softening system.

The salt comes in pellet form and is suitable for many water softener brands. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure it is compatible with your unit.

Pros

  • The patented formula protects household appliances
  • Recommended by manufacturers including Whirlpool, Northstar, and Ecopure
  • Might extend the life of your water softener

Cons

  • Can be hard to find 25-pound and 44-pound bags

Product Specs

Weight 50 pounds
Size 16 inches x 15 inches x 4 inches
Type Pellets

Product Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Size Type
Morton Salt Rust Defense Overall 40 lbs 19″ x 13″ x 4″ Pellets
Morton Salt Pure & Natural Crystals Natural Salt 40 lbs 12″ x 25″ x 3.5″ Crystals
Morton Salt Clean & Protect Choice of Size 50 lbs 16″ x 15″ x 4″ Pellets

Why Do You Need Water Softener Salt?

Despite its name, it isn’t actually salt that softens your hard water. That task is performed by sodium (or potassium if you use that instead) coated resin beads.

As water flows through the softening tank, a process called ion exchange takes place. Magnesium and calcium are replaced by the sodium ions in the salt. The resin attaches itself to the calcium and magnesium ions and releases the sodium (or potassium) ones (3).

These minerals on the resin beads accumulate over time and will need to be removed. This is where salt plays a key role in the regeneration cycle.

At a scheduled time, or when your system’s computer deems it necessary, the salt is added to water in the brine tank, where it dissolves.

The resulting brine enters the softener tank and washes away the hard water ions on the resin beads, replacing them with sodium again. This is the reverse of the process that softens your water. The mineral-heavy water is flushed down the drain, and your system is ready to soften water again (4).

What Types of Water Softener Salt are There?

There are multiple types of salt that can be used in a water softener:

Rock Salt

Rock salt is rarely found on the earth’s surface and must be mined. This is a raw form of salt, and it can contain minerals that are insoluble.

While it is possible to use rock salt in your water softener, it might leave sediment in your brine tank, which means it will need frequent cleaning. It is also possible that the higher mineral content could clog up your system. Although it is a more affordable option, the drawbacks likely outweigh the benefits.

Solar Salt

This is a natural salt that is left behind when inland brine or seawater evaporates due to solar heat. It is usually found in crystal form, but it is possible to buy solar salt for water softener as pellets or blocks.

Evaporated Salt

Evaporated salt is formed by pumping water underground to collect salt deposits. This water is then evaporated to separate the moisture from the salt. This process can also involve treating the brine to remove impurities (5). The resulting evaporated salt pellets are usually quite pure and are a good option for water softeners.

What to Look For (Buying Guide)

The right type of salt for your water softener will be determined by the manufacturer’s recommendations and your personal preferences. There are also some key things to keep in mind when shopping for the best water softener salt:

Cost

While you shouldn’t cut costs everywhere, especially with your plumbing, you will probably also need to shop on a budget. Weigh up your options and try to find the best value for your money, which might include buying softener salts in bulk.

Be Careful

Saving money might seem great in the short term, but buying too cheap could result in higher maintenance costs later.
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Performance

Choose the salt that will work best for your system and the hardness of your water. If your water is provided by a well, you should consider choosing a product that will remove iron as well as other minerals.

Quick Tip

If you have health issues that mean you should not have high levels of sodium in your diet, you can choose to use potassium instead of salt (6).

FAQs

Does It Matter What Salt I Use in a Water Softener?

Yes, because you cannot use regular table salt or ice-melting salt; the salt must be specifically formulated for use in water softeners.

Salt for water softeners has been explicitly developed to function with water softeners and to maximize their effectiveness. Crystallized salt is the end product of an evaporation process that utilizes steam and water.

This process results in the production of evaporated salt. After being broken up into individual crystals, the salt is subjected to a drying and screening process before compacting into pellets.

In most cases, evaporated salt has a purity level superior to other forms. In water softener salt, a high purity rate indicates that fewer water-insoluble materials will be present. Consequently, this leads to less tank build-up and more effective maintenance.

How Often Should You Add Salt to a Water Softener?

You will find many different recommendations for this, but it depends on the age, type, and brand of your water softener. You might have to add salt to a water softener twice per month or once every eight weeks.

Your water softener’s age significantly affects the amount of salt it requires. If the water softener is more than ten years old, it may use more salt than a more recent and effective system.

The most recent models also function on a demand-initiated cycle, which means they only renew when you require them to, as opposed to on a predetermined schedule.

Because newer models are more salt-efficient than older ones, they normally only require adding salt to them once every six to eight weeks. It’s good to check frequently to ensure everything is operating as it should be.

How Long Does Salt Last in a Water Softener?

Water softener salt needs replacing once every two or three months. This is because the resin beads that make these softeners need salt ions.

Do Water Softeners Harm Septic Tanks?

Water softeners do not harm septic tanks as long as they are quality products. Understanding the effect a water softener’s quality can have on a sewage treatment system is essential.

When water softeners are not functioning properly, they can generate excessive brine waste by renewing beyond what is required. In some instances, this can cause difficulties with older septic systems.

If the water softener discharges an excessive amount of salt and water, the operation of your septic system may be adversely affected. Because of this, every house must be equipped with a water softening system that is effective and runs smoothly.

What Happens If I Stop Putting Salt in a Water Softener?

In short, if you stop putting salt in the water softener, you can damage the appliances around the house.

But the answer is more complex. Resin beads are the first to go down when the softener runs out of salt. Consequently, they will no longer absorb hard water minerals, so the system will be futile.

If the salt in your water softener has been used up, the water that comes out of it will leave stains on anything it comes into contact with (everything from faucets to dishes.

Your brine tank may overflow. For systems with just one shutoff valve, it will not be able to prevent the brine tank from being filled with water.

Which Is Better: Softener Salt Pellets or Crystals?

Salt pellets offer more benefits compared to salt crystals when you use them in a softener. Salt pellets are unquestionably superior in every way compared to salt crystals.

Even though they are more expensive than their crystal equivalents, they do not require any additional processing before usage. Before being added to your softener, salt crystals have to be reduced to a powdery form by being ground up.


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About the Author

Peter Gray

Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.