Water Softener Salt Frequently Asked Questions

Hard water is water that contains high levels of calcium and magnesium minerals. To learn a bit more about hard water, watch this short video with our Principal Scientist, Dr. Scott. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yX02HwMVo (0:31)

Give Me The Basics: Diamond Crystal® water softener salt works in conjunction with a water softener to remove hard water minerals (e.g. calcium and magnesium) from your water.

Give Me The Details: Hard water minerals are removed when the water passes through resin beads in the water softener tank. Water softener salt is used to periodically recharge the resin beads so that they can continue to remove these minerals. If you want more information, watch this video with our Principal Scientist, Dr. Scott, as describes the regeneration process more in depth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vci4-jEU4Fo (1:19)

Water softener salt is most commonly made of sodium chloride (NaCl). It is similar to the salt you use for cooking. It may also be made with a salt alternative called potassium chloride (KCl), but this is less common.

Diamond Crystal® Solar Naturals® Salt Crystals (the blue bag) and Diamond Crystal® SunGems® Salt Crystals contain sodium chloride with no additives.

Diamond Crystal® Bright and Soft® Salt Pellets (the yellow bag) and Diamond Crystal® Iron Fighter® Salt Pellets (the green bag) are high purity salts that also contain a small amount of additional ingredients to help prevent caking and mushing inside of the salt tank.

Diamond Crystal® Potassium Chloride Salt Alternative is made from potassium chloride (KCl) with no additives.

You should consider softening the water in your home if you live in an area with hard water (water with high levels of calcium and magnesium).

There are many benefits to softening your water, including preserving the efficiency of your water heater and household appliances, lowering your utility bill, decreasing mineral build-up in pipes, and decreasing crust build-up and stains in faucets, showerheads, and bathtubs.

Soft water also makes soaps and detergents more effective because they will lather better, so you can count on less leftover residue from soap on your skin, clothes, and in your hair if you soften your water.

To learn more about the benefits of soft water, watch this short video with our Principal Scientist, Dr. Scott. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMiPrkA6KJk (0:30)

Sodium chloride and potassium chloride water softening salts are both effective in regenerating you water softener. The two products can also be used interchangeably or be mixed in together. One reason you might choose one product over the other could be if your water softener is connected to the cold water line in your kitchen, resulting in trace amounts of sodium or potassium in your drinking water. However, in most homes, the system bypasses the cold water line, and in that case you wouldn’t need to put much consideration in which of the two product types to buy.

  1. When using sodium chloride water softener salt, a minimal amount of sodium is transferred to your water. For moderately hard water (8 grains per gallon), drinking 2 liters of softened water per day would contribute the amount of sodium you would find in a slice of bread (~125 mg). If your doctor recommends reducing sodium intake, you may want to consider using potassium chloride water softener salt instead.
     
  2. When using potassium chloride water softener salt, a minimal amount of potassium is transferred to the water. If you have kidney or other renal issues, potassium can aggravate those problems so your doctor may recommend reducing your potassium intake. In this case, you may consider using any basic water softener salt rather than potassium chloride.

Yes, water softened by Diamond Crystal® water softener salt is completely safe to consume. The exception to this would be if your doctor recommends you reduce your sodium or potassium intake and suggests that you use one type of water softener salt over another.

All Diamond Crystal® water softener salts are sourced from North America and packaged in the United States. Sodium chloride based Diamond Crystal® water softener products are sourced from the United States and the Caribbean Sea, while Diamond Crystal® Potassium Chloride Salt Alternative is sourced from Canada.

To learn a bit more about how some of our salts are made, take a look at this short video to walk you through the production process of Diamond Crystal® Solar Salt!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgWIe7JF4vw (0:49)

Yes, but the difference is very minimal. All Diamond Crystal® water softening salt products ensure high purity and quality in every bag. For example, Diamond Crystal® Bright and Soft® Salt Pellets (the yellow bag) ranges from 99.7 to 99.99% pure sodium chloride, Diamond Crystal® Solar Naturals® Salt Crystals (the blue bag) is about 99.6% pure sodium chloride, and our lowest purity salt, Diamond Crystal® Rock Salt, is 98.9% pure

See below for answers to your questions pertaining to types of water softener salt.

The Diamond Crystal® water softener product line has a wide variety of water softening salts, including Bright and Soft® Salt Pellets (the yellow bag), Iron Fighter® Salt Pellets (the green bag), Solar Naturals® Salt Crystals (the blue bag), Potassium Chloride Salt Alternative, and more. The different products serve different needs you might have. For instance, you might want Iron Fighter® Salt Pellets if you live in an area with high iron content in your water.

In general, we recommend using a high purity salt like Diamond Crystal® Bright and Soft® Salt Pellets, Diamond Crystal® Iron Fighter® Salt Pellets, or Diamond Crystal® Solar Naturals® Salt Crystals. It’s best to follow the water softener manufacturer’s directions for the type of salt to use.

Water softener crystals, pellets, and cubes are all made from salt (sodium chloride). The difference has to do with how the salt is manufactured.

  • Crystals are made from evaporating salt water in shallow outdoor ponds. The sun and wind evaporate the water and leave behind a layer of natural salt crystals.
  • Pellets and cubes are made from small salt granules that are compacted together to form a large pellet (pillow shape) or cube (square shape). The larger size of pellets and cubes may make them less susceptible to bridging than smaller salt crystals.
  • Crystals, pellets, and cubes can be used interchangeably in most water softeners. Be sure to consult your water softener owner’s manual to determine if a certain type of salt is recommended for your system.

In general, all types of water softening salt work well together and there is no particular harm caused by mixing different types. However, there may be instances where some types of salt will be preferable to others depending on the specific softener design.

Manufacturers of single tank or “all in one” softeners will often recommend using pellets to prevent the formation of a salt crust around the salt tank. Softeners that don’t have a salt screen in the bottom of the salt tank may also work best with pellets or cubes to avoid crystals being sucked into the salt draw pipe. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s directions if they recommend one type of salt over another.

Water softener salt blocks are designed to be used in special salt tanks. They can also be used in other water softeners provided that they fit in the salt tank and can dissolve efficiently. Consult your water softener owner’s manual for more information.

Ice melt salt is generally not recommended for water softeners. Ice melt salt has smaller crystals which can lead to mushing and makes it less suitable for water softeners. It’s also less pure than water softener salt and would require more frequent clean out of the salt tank.

Table salt is not recommended for water softeners. The reason for this is that table salt is made of much smaller crystals than normal water softener salts. These factors make it more susceptible to mushing inside of the salt tank.

Odor in your water at home can originate from a variety of areas, such as from the presence of certain gases. Water softeners are not designed to remove odors. You would need to look at a different type of water purification to resolve an odor issue, such as a sulfur filter.

See below for answers to your questions surrounding how to maintain your water softener.

First, locate the tank that holds the water softener salt. The tank might be integrated into the water softener or it might be a separate tank off to the side. Open the lid and check the salt level. To maintain consistently soft water, keep your salt tank at least half-full at all times, but do not overfill. The level of the salt should remain above the water level. Many water softeners can hold 4+ forty pound bags of salt at a time.

We recommend checking the salt level in your water softener at least once a month. If the salt level is less than half full, it’s time to add salt!

Generally, most households use about 2 forty pound bags of salt every 1-3 months. The amount of salt you need depends on the hardness of your water, your household water usage, and your type of water softener. Newer water softeners are more efficient and use less salt than older ones.

Most water softeners require you to set the water hardness level to use salt at the optimal rate. Harder water requires more salt. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (gpg) and ranges between 0-35. You can determine your water hardness using one of two methods:

  • Use a water hardness test strip – you can find these online or at your local home improvement store.
  • Check with your local municipality – many cities provide information about the hardness of water in their community.

Follow the directions in your water softener owner’s manual to set your water hardness level.

Usually, cleaning out your salt tank isn’t necessary. However, if you use lower purity salt, like rock salt, or notice salt mushing in the bottom of your tank, then you may need to drain your tank and clean it. Follow your directions in your water softener owner’s manual for cleaning instructions.

See below for answers to your questions about what's going on inside of your salt tank.

There are several possible reasons why your water softener salt may not dissolve quickly:

  • Newer water softeners use salt more efficiently so it may appear that salt is not being used. You can determine whether your water softener is working correctly by using a hard water test strip to test your softened water.
  • Your water softener may not be plugged in or have the correct settings – refer to your water softener user’s manual to determine the correct settings for optimal salt usage.
  • You may have a salt bridge in your salt tank - A salt bridge is a crust of salt that forms above the water level and prevents salt from dropping down to the water. You can break up the salt bridge using your hand or a small tool.
  • You may have salt mushing in the bottom of your tank - Salt mushing occurs when the salt breaks down into small granules that don’t fully dissolve. If this happens, it may clog the water intake valve at the bottom of the water tank. If you see salt mush in the bottom of the salt tank, try cleaning out the tank.

There are several possible reasons why your water softener salt may dissolve faster than normal:

  • Your water softener may be set for a higher water hardness level – Most water softeners require you to set the water hardness level in your home. This setting is used to determine the optimal usage of salt. Harder water requires more salt usage. Check to make sure that your water softener is set to the correct water hardness level.
  • Your household is using more water – more frequent water usage requires more salt to soften the water. You may find that it uses more salt when you have higher water usage (e.g. holidays).
  • You switched from one type of salt to another – pellets, crystals, and cube salt can be used interchangeably in most water softeners. All types of salt dissolve at the same rate, but due to their shape, some may appear to dissolve more quickly than others. Rest assured that the salt is being used at the same rate.

Salt mushing occurs when the salt breaks down into small granules that don’t fully dissolve. If this happens, it may clog the water intake valve at the bottom of the salt tank. If you see salt mush in the bottom of the salt tank, try cleaning out the tank. Refer to your water softener owner’s manual for cleaning instructions.

If you have frequent problems with salt musing, trying switching to a different type (crystals, pellets, cubes) of water softener salt.

A salt bridge is a crust of salt that forms above the water level and prevents salt from dropping down to the water. You can break up the salt bridge using your hand or a small tool. If you frequently get salt bridges, try switching to a different type (crystals, pellets, cubes) of water softening salt.

See below for answers to your questions about avoiding complications with your water softener.

A minimal amount of sodium can enter your drinking water if your cold water line is hooked up to your water softener or if you’re consuming hot water. With average daily water consumption, the amount of sodium you would consume would be equivalent to what you’d find in a piece of bread (~250mg per two slices (52g) of bread.) 

If your doctor recommends reducing sodium intake, you may want to consider using Diamond Crystal® Potassium Chloride Salt Alternative instead.

You could also add a water line that bypasses your water softener so that your softened water provides the benefits you want for your dishes, clothes and pipes, while standard water is directed to your faucet.  

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 onto your lawn of either sodium or potassium chloride should be avoided. This discharge can cause an imbalance in the water supply on grass and plants, which may result in browning and eventual destruction of your lawn.

Water softener salts are not intended for human or animal feeding. The size of the salt crystals are inappropriate for small animals, and some water softener salts may also have ingredients that are inappropriate for animal feeds.

If your pet should happen to consume some water softener salt, it’s unlikely that it would be dangerously poisoned. Your pet would have to eat a lot of salt to make it sick. If this does occur it might give it a stomach ache, but as long as it has access to plenty of drinking water it’s unlikely other issues will arise.

Monitor your animal and consult with your veterinarian if you have additional questions or concerns.

No, to soften water you need a water softener. The salt used in your water softener does not directly soften the water, rather, it is used to regenerate the resin beads in your water softener. These resin beads actually soften the water from your well by removing the hard water ions (e.g. calcium and magnesium).

 

The iron content of hard water can vary widely. The additive in Diamond Crystal® Iron Fighter® Salt Pellets can remove moderate levels of iron in the softener, and often is all you should need.

However, if the iron levels in your water are high, it may be necessary to supplement your Iron Fighter® Salt Pellets. You can periodically treat your softener with a strong, single-dose iron removal additive (available through water conditioning dealers or hardware stores) or you may have to install a special iron filter.

See below for answering to your questions pertaining to related uses of Diamond Crystal® water softener salt.

Diamond Crystal® Solar Naturals® Salt Crystals and Diamond Crystal® Rock Salt are suitable to use as ice melters. Please follow directions on the packaging for appropriate use. We do not recommend other water softener products, such as pellets, for use as an ice melter.

Any type of salt, including table salt, can help create colder temperatures ideal for an ice cream freezer. Coarse salt is recommended because it dissolves more slowly. Diamond Crystal® Rock Salt and Diamond Crystal® Solar Naturals® Salt Crystals tend to be coarse and will work well for this purpose. Diamond Crystal® Bright and Soft® Salt Pellets and Diamond Crystal® Sun Gems® Salt Crystals are too coarse and should not be used.

No, although Diamond Crystal® water softener salts are safe to use in a water softener, it should not be used for food or animal consumption. 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.

For food applications, we recommend Diamond Crystal® Kosher Salt.

Yes, but only Diamond Crystal® Solar Naturals® Salt Crystals would be recommended as the salt crystal size in this product is perfect for bath salts! For some inspiration, take a look at this DIY Lemon Rosemary Bath Salt recipe, and refer to our Diamond Crystal® Salt Pinterest page for more bath salt recipes and DIY projects.

Yes, Diamond Crystal® Solar Naturals® Salt Crystals can be used in your pool, but it will not dissolve as quickly as standard pool salt. Diamond Crystal® Splash Ready® Pool Salt would be more ideal for your pool.