While many people suffering with hard water in their homes, can understand and see the advantages of fitting a water softener, the issue of maintaining salt levels and choosing which kind of salt to use can become incredibly confusing.

There are so many different options for your water softener, from crystals to rock and from block salt to tablets. Do you choose salt or potassium chloride and should you opt for evaporated salt or solar salt? The choice can be overwhelming so we have produced this quick guide to water softener salts.

The first thing is, only ever use products which are specifically for water softeners – never be tempted to top up the tank with table salt for example!

Some of the cheaper softener pellets, from supermarkets for example, contain impurities which can lead to build up in your brine tank and increase the maintenance issues so always choose softener salt which is of a very high purity level.

All water softeners will work with either sodium chloride or potassium chloride as these are both types of salt. Sodium chloride is the substance commonly known as salt and is normally sold either as crystals, pellets, or block salt. The salt pellets are generally the most commonly used and cheapest. Here is a breakdown of the different salt options:

Evaporated salt pellets – high rate of salt purity and the most expensive as a result

Solar salt crystals – created by evaporating sea water – not so effective if you have very high levels of hard water

Granular salt – not recommended to be used in machines as it does not dissolve effectively and can block up pipework

Tablet salt – economical way of using salt. Your water softener may need to be converted to take tablet salt. Very economical for larger machines especially as you do not have to fill the salt bin as frequently as you do with block salt. Come in 25Kg or 10Kg bags

Block salt – should be used only if deemed suitable by your manufacturer. Kinetico premier compact machine uses block salt. They are very easy to use and provide very efficient service

The better quality of salt you use, the better results you will get from your water softener and the fewer maintenance issues you will need to deal with.

The other option to go for, particularly for people concerned about sodium intake, is potassium chloride which is 99.9% free of sodium. These pellets are more expensive than sodium chloride and not very widely available.

It is important to check your salt levels monthly and add to the salt level regularly. If the salt drops too low the water softener won’t be able to soften the water in your home. Never let your tank salt level fall below one-quarter full.

If you need to add new salt to the tank, take the opportunity to clear any crusted salt from round the edges and any sludgy salt from the bottom of the tank at the same time, to keep it clear and maintained so that it works most effectively once you add in the new salt. This is perfectly normal and is known as ‘salt creep’ and can be caused by changes in temperature and humidity.

As you can see, there are different options of softener salt to use in your water softener system, but choosing the correct salt can help your system work better and potentially lower maintenance costs in the long term.

If you are in any doubt as to what type of water softener products you should be using, or how to maintain your brine tank correctly, speak to your supplier for advice and guidance.