Water Softening FAQs
The answer depends on your softener, your type of source water, and how much maintenance you are willing to do on your softener. In general, we recommend high purity salt like Diamond Crystal® Bright and Soft™ Pellets (in the yellow bag) or Diamond Crystal® Iron Fighter® Pellets (in the green bag).
The more often you regenerate, the more often you'll need to add salt. A good general rule of thumb is to check your softener once a month. To maintain consistently soft water, keep your salt level at least half-full at all times, but do not overfill.
Since solar salt contains slightly more water insoluble matter than (evaporated salt) pellets, consideration should be given to salt usage, softener cleanout frequency and softener design. If salt usage is light one could probably use the products interchangeably. If salt usage is heavy, insoluble will build up faster when using solar salt, and the need to more frequently clean the brine tank/reservoir will be increased. Brine tank cleanout can be a messy task. Check with your softener manufacturer for specific recommendations.
Rock salt will work in a softener. However, because of the relatively high level of water insoluble matter present in rock salt, it is recommended for use only if the consumer is willing to perform routine brine tank cleanout. For the average home softener this can be required 2 to 3 times per year. Most softener manufacturers recommend solar or evaporated salt, instead of rock salt.
Yes. Evaporated salt ranges from 99.7 to 99.99% pure sodium chloride. Solar salt is typically 99.6 to 99.8% sodium chloride. Rock salt may run from 95 to more than 98.5% sodium chloride, depending on the source.
Unless the salt product being used is high in water-insoluble matter, or there is a serious malfunction of some sort (e.g. bridging), it is usually not necessary to clean out the brine tank. Some individuals choose to allow all of the salt to dissolve in their softener unit once per year so it can be visually inspected to insure no build-up has occurred. If there is a build-up, it should be cleaned out to prevent softener malfunction.
Yes. A minimal amount of salt can enter your drinking water, depending on your salt usage, with an average equivalent to the amount of sodium you would find in a piece of bread. If you have sodium concerns, consider using Diamond Crystal® Potassium Chloride Water Softening Salt, or add a water line that bypasses your drinking water so that your softened water provides the benefits you want for your dishes, clothes and pipes, while eliminating what you don’t want.
This condition, known as "bridging" or "mushing" will require manual break up of the salt mass to facilitate brine flow. A handy person can probably accomplish this task, but alternatively, a service call may be arranged through a water conditioning dealer.
I'm using your Diamond Crystal® Iron Fighter® pellets and still have rust stains on my toilet bowl, sinks, and laundry. Why isn't it working?
Iron removal through the use of an iron fighting additive is limited to water containing 2 ppm (parts per million) iron or less. With iron levels that are higher, a strong single-dose cleanser (usually available through water conditioning dealers or hardware stores) should be used periodically, and may be used regularly to supplement the Iron Fighter® pellets. If your water has a significant level of iron, you may have to install a special iron filter.
No, solar salt is a natural product made by evaporating seawater. It is harvested much like an agricultural crop and consequently may contain minute inclusions such as earth, small pebbles, and other naturally occurring materials.
Since these inclusions are of a different density than the brine in the bottom of the salt keeper, they are generally left behind in the salt keeper. Lighter density materials, should they accompany the salt brine during regenerations, are usually flushed from the resin during the rinse cycle which follows regeneration.
The pellets I'm buying look slightly discolored compared to others I've gotten in the past. Are they dirty?
Pellets may be made from compacted evaporated salt or compacted solar salt. The latter product is usually slightly darker in color.
Normally, blocks are used in specially designed salt holding tanks. For proper operation, the water level in the holding tank is raised to keep the blocks submerged for maximum brine formation. If you want to switch to salt blocks you may have to reset the water level in the salt keeper.
The smell of rotten eggs is generally associated with hydrogen sulfide gas that may be present in the water supply. Salt does not remove this odor or the gas. You must take other steps to remove the gas.
Check the salt at the water level to see if a solid mass has developed (called a "bridge"), or if fine "mushy" salt is lying at the bottom of the tank (called mushing). If a bridge, carefully break up the mass to allow it to drop into the water below. If mushing, remove the good pellets, scoop out the "mushed" salt, and reload the good pellets.
If the salt keeper was empty at the time of fresh salt addition, check the water level in the tank. If lower than normal, the float may be stuck in the internal side column. Remove the cover and check the mechanism to determine if it is working freely. If not, call the service department of the water softener manufacturer and arrange for a service call.
This question often accompanies a switch from one type of water softening salt to another, e.g. going from pellets to solar. What you are seeing perhaps is related to a difference in bulk density between the two products. The closer the crystals pack together, the less volume they occupy. This would give rise to the perception that the salt is dissolving too fast. In addition, if the initial water level in your unit was set to use pellets, it may be too high to use solar salt (i.e. too much water in the tank dissolves more salt) and may need to be lowered. Follow your softener manufacturer's instructions.
In reality, salt can only dissolve to the extent that it produces a saturated brine (26.4% by weight). When the brine is saturated with respect to salt, no more can dissolve. Therefore, even though appearances may suggest otherwise, salt usage is the same regardless of the salt product type or form that is used.
It could be that the salt had too little residence time, i.e. the salt was dumped into the salt keeper and the softener regeneration cycle initiated immediately. It could also be the result of a softener malfunction or possibly salt bridging or mushing which reduces or eliminates brine formation.
Diamond Crystal® Bright & Soft™ pellets are an appropriate substitute.
We do not recommend it. Note that deicing salt has a higher amount of insolubles and will require more clean-up of the brine tank. Also, the smaller particle size of deicing salt is not suitable for water softeners.
Diamond Crystal® Sodium Shield™ Potassium Chloride may be used for ion-exchange resin regeneration. It is a different type of salt that uses potassium in the ion exchange process instead of sodium. It is a more expensive product.
Both do the same job. They replace calcium and magnesium on the softener resin during the regeneration process. When you use sodium chloride, sodium will be added to the soft water during use and when you use potassium chloride, potassium will be added to the soft water. People whose physicians have advised them to eliminate sources of sodium from their drinking water normally use potassium chloride. In some people who have kidney or other renal problems, potassium can aggravate those problems. Most healthy people(>97%) can use sodium chloride without trouble and sodium chloride is less expensive. If you have any questions, consult your physician.
Studies performed by the Water Quality Association indicate that a properly placed septic tank with an adequate septic field is in no way impaired in operation by brine discharged from a water softener. This is primarily due to dilution factors and septic field drainage.
Direct discharge of either sodium or potassium chloride brine should be avoided. Brine alters the osmotic pressure that grasses (plants) rely upon to regulate water needs. Imbalance in water supply will result in browning and eventually destruction of the grass. A diluted brine ratio of 20 parts water to 1 part brine may be used.
Salt lowers the freezing point of water making it possible to achieve below freezing temperature when applied to ice. Any type of salt, including table salt, may be used for this purpose. Since the salt will eventually melt the ice, coarse salt would be preferred because it dissolves more slowly. Rock or solar water softening salt tends to be coarse and will work well for this purpose. Pellets and Sun Gems® crystals are too coarse and should not be used.
Yes, from a physical standpoint. Cube salt runs uniformly thick at about 1/4" and is varied in length and width. Pellets are pillow or cough drop shaped and may vary in thickness. From the standpoint of chemical purity and functionality, there is little difference to be observed, although cubes may be slightly more durable.
Although water softener pellets may be made from food grade salt, the pellet press process, itself, does not meet the criteria required to call the finished pellets "food grade". Therefore, direct application of pellets in food processing is not recommended. Other water softening salt products like solar salt, rock salt and brine blocks are not recommended for food application for the same reason.
Generally speaking, no; however, certain water softeners are designed for specific water softener products and may not function as well using alternative products. For example, use of rock salt in a cabinet model softener is not recommended because this type of softener is not easily cleaned and rock salt leaves a residue of insoluble matter. It can also bridge. Mixing of coarse and fine products (for example pellets and rock salt) is not recommended as bridging could also result from this practice. It is recommended that you allow your unit to go empty (or nearly empty) of one type of salt before adding another to avoid these problems.
The water level should be set according to your owners manual or at your water conditioning technician's recommendation. The salt level should be maintained a minimum of 3 to 4 inches above the water level, unless otherwise directed by the owners manual or water conditioner technician.
Other than keeping the salt level at half, is there any other good rule of thumb to use as far as filling the softener is concerned?
Loosen any encrusted salt that may be adhering to the perimeter of the salt keeper, making sure that any large pieces are broken up. Distribute the salt evenly across the salt keeper. Make sure water level is appropriate for optimum operation.
Only solar salt would be recommended. Optimum sizing of salt is 'medium' in gradation. Most solar salt used for water softening is coarse or extra coarse, which is larger in gradation.
As with food considerations, water softening salts are not intended for human or animal feeding. The particle size is inappropriate for small animals. In addition, water softening salt may have additives that are inappropriate for animal feeds.
No, to soften water, you need a water softener. The salt used in the brine tank of a water softener does not directly soften the water, but is used to regenerate the resin beads in your water softener. These actually soften the water from your well by removing the hard water ions, calcium, magnesium and iron.
It depends on the hardness of your water, but on average less than 3% of your sodium intake comes from drinking softened water. It is estimated that the average person consumes the equivalent of two to three teaspoons of salt a day from various sources. Assuming a daily intake of 5 grams (5000 milligrams) of sodium in food and the consumption of three quarts of water (i.e., coffee, tea, fruit juices, and drinking water), the contribution of sodium (Na+) in the water from the home water softening process is minimal compared to the total daily intake of many sodium-rich foods. The formula for calculating the amount of additional sodium follows: mg of Na / quart of softened water = grains of hardness X 7.5 mg Na / grain of hardness.