Best Water Softener Salts of 2020

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

Having a water softener installed in your home is an investment. To make sure it works as well as you expect it to, you need to know which water softener salt is the best.

Chemically known as sodium chloride, salt is an essential part of these systems. It helps to clean the system so it can get on with combatting your hard water issues. However, not any old salt will do.

Yes, it’s great for seasoning our food, but you don’t want to put granular table salt in your softening system. Let’s find out how salt works in a water softener and see what will work best for you.

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Why Do You Need Water Softener Salt?

It’s not actually the salt in your water system that does the work to soften your hard water. That task is down to the sodium (or potassium if you use that instead of salt) coated resin beads.

A process known as ion exchange takes place, which is where the magic happens. Magnesium and calcium are replaced by the sodium ions in the salt when hard water passes through the softening tank. The resin grabs onto the calcium and magnesium ions and releases the sodium (or potassium) ones (1).

These minerals on the resin beads build up over time and will need to be removed. This is where salt comes to the rescue.

At a scheduled time, or when your on-board computer deems it necessary, the salt is added to water in the brine tank, which is where it dissolves. This process occurs as part of the regeneration cycle.

The resulting brine enters the softener tank and washes away the hard water ions on the resin beads, replacing them with sodium again. It’s the reverse of the process that softens your water. The mineral-heavy water is flushed down the drain, and your system is reset (2).

What Types of Water Softener Salt are There?

There are several different types of salt you could use in a water softener:

1. Rock Salt

This salt is not usually found on the earth’s surface and has to be mined. This is a raw form of salt, and it could contain minerals that aren’t soluble.

While you could use these in your water softener, they might leave sediment in your brine tank, which would need regular cleaning. It’s also possible that the higher mineral content could clog up your system. So, although it’s a more affordable option, the drawbacks could outweigh the savings.

2. Solar Salt

This is a natural salt that’s produced when inland brine or seawater evaporates in the sun. It is generally found in crystal form, although sometimes you can get pellets or block form.

3. Evaporated Salt

Evaporated salt is formed by pumping water underground to pick up salt deposits. It is then pumped back out and evaporated to remove the moisture. This process can also involve treating the brine to remove impurities (3). The resulting pellets can be quite pure and are a good option for water softeners.

Choosing the Best Water Softener Salt

The type of salt you choose will come down to personal preference, and the manufacturer’s recommendations for your system.

Some of the other things you might want to consider include:

1. Cost

While it’s not great to cut costs with everything, obviously most of us are on a budget. Weigh up your options and go for value for money, perhaps by buying in bulk.

Be careful

Saving money is great, but choosing the cheapest option could mean higher maintenance costs down the line.
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2. Performance

Make sure you choose the salt that is going to work best for your system and the hardness of your water. If your water supply is from a well, you might want to choose something that will help remove iron as well as other minerals.

Quick Tip

If you have health issues that prevent you from having high levels of sodium in your diet, you can choose potassium as a brine agent instead of salt (4).

Best Water Softener Salt Reviews of 2020

Many water softener manufacturers might offer and promote their own brand of salt. However, if you want an alternative to these, they can be found. We have chosen our top 3 picks, taking into account customer feedback and industry expert views.

1. Morton Salt Clean & Protect/Rust Defense

Best Overall

Morton Salt Morton F124700000g Clean & Protect/Rust Defense Water Softener Pellets, 40 Lb, Plain
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Do you notice an iron taste in your water? Maybe you notice rust stains in your bathtub or on your sink. This could be due to iron in your water.

Even though a water softener will remove minerals from your municipal supply, iron can sometimes get through. This could be more noticeable if your water supply is from a well (5).

This Morton water softener salt claims to remove 15 times more iron than normal salt does. The company tells us this is based on each regeneration cycle and internal laboratory testing.

PROS:
  • More powerful than regular salt.
  • Easy-pour bag for topping up.
  • Simple to pick up.
CONS:
  • Only available in a 40-pound bag.

Additional Specs

Weight40 pounds
Size19 inches x 13 inches x 4 inches
TypePellets

2. Morton Pure and Natural

Best Natural Salt

Morton U26624S Pure AND Natural Water Softening Crystals, 40-Pound,White
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This crystal salt product from Morton is solar salt, meaning it’s been sun-dried from seawater or another source of brine (6).

We are advised their product is 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 help your soaps and detergents lather better.

PROS:
  • Easy-open bag.
  • All-natural.
  • Prevents mineral buildup.
CONS:
  • Can have a sulphuric smell.

Additional Specs

Weight40 pounds
Size12 inches x 25 inches x 3.5 inches
TypeCrystals

3. Morton Salt Clean Protect System Water Softener

Best Choice of Size

Morton Salt 1501 Clean Protect System Water Softener, 50 lbs, White, 50 lbs
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There are times when size matters, and if you’re looking for a choice of different weights in your salt bags, this one from Morton could be for you.

The company offers four different 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 brands of water softener. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations to make sure it’s compatible with yours.

PROS:
  • Patented formula to protect household appliances.
  • Recommended by appliance manufacturers including Whirlpool, Northstar, and Ecopure.
  • Could extend the life of your water softener.
CONS:
  • 25-pound and 44-pound bags might be hard to source.

Additional Specs

Weight50 pounds
Size16 inches x 15 inches x 4 inches
TypePellets

Detailed Comparison Chart

ProductBestWeightSizeType
Morton Salt Rust DefenseOverall40 lbs19″ x 13″ x 4″Pellets
Morton Salt Pure & Natural CrystalsNatural Salt40 lbs12″ x 25″ x 3.5″Crystals
Morton Salt Clean & ProtectChoice of Size50 lbs16″ x 15″ x 4″Pellets
Jump to the Full Water Softener Salt Reviews

Softening Up

Investing in a water softening system will benefit your home in several ways. It can help prevent stains on your faucets, tub, glasses, dishes, and shower screens. Your appliances and plumbing are less likely to get clogged up, and detergents and soaps will perform better.

Having the best water softener salt in your system will help keep it working as it should. It will help flush away the minerals that you don’t and recharge your resin beads ready to tackle the next batch of water.

As well as your preferences, take into account the type of salt the manufacturer of your system recommends. This way, you can make sure you get the very best performance from your water softening system.

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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.
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