The Difference Between Water Softener Salt and Regular Salt

August 18, 2021 1:58 am Published by Leave your thoughts

You might know that water softeners use salt to help remove calcium and magnesium from tap or well water—but did you know that it’s a very different kind of salt? Many people hear the myth that water softeners add salt to their water supply, and assume that it’s tantamount to drinking, cooking and bathing with saltwater.

Luckily, that’s not true. While water softeners add a small amount of sodium to softened water, you won’t be able to tell the difference. Unless you’re highly sensitive to sodium, water softeners are a great choice. Read on to learn more about the difference between water softener salt and the kind of salt you might use for food or other purposes.

What is water softener salt?

Water softener salt is formulated to ensure it deposits very little sodium into your water supply, but can still remove calcium and magnesium, the two minerals that are responsible for hard water.

Water softeners use resin beads and special salts to create an ion exchange. The resin beads are charged with the softener salt, so they attract calcium and magnesium ions. Those minerals stick to the beads, while the newly softened water passes through the tank and into your water supply. As a result, you might have slightly more sodium (sodium is Na—not salt, which is sodium chloride, NaCl) in your water. However, your water will be free of the minerals that leave mineral scale and buildup in your plumbing, sinks, appliances and other fixtures.

What is sidewalk salt?

If you’re used to seeing sidewalk salt during the winter, you might wonder if that’s the same as water softener salt. It’s not. Sidewalk and road salt is also referred to as “rock salt.” It’s the raw form of sodium chloride (NaCl), which also contains other substances like clay, shale and other minerals. Sidewalk or road salt is about 95 percent pure, which is enough to help melt snow and ice on roadways. The sodium chloride lowers the freezing temperature of water, so it melts and you can clear it away from your driveway, sidewalk or road.

While road salt is very useful in the winter, it’s not the same as water softener salt.

What is table salt?

Table salt comes from rock salt, or sodium chloride. However, table salt is processed so it doesn’t contain any of the impurities you’d get from road or sidewalk salt—there’s no clay or shale involved. Instead, you just get salt that you can safely ingest.

In short, if you own a water softener, you need to get special water softener salt for your unit. Don’t try to charge the resin beads with sidewalk salt or table salt. It won’t give you the same results, and you might damage the water softener itself in the process.

For more information about water softeners, water softener salt and how to get the best quality water in your home or business, reach out to Fogt Water Conditioning today to learn about our products.

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