Many people who own a home are becoming more concerned about the effect hard water can have on both their home and their budget so they are looking into using a water softener to solve their hard water problems. There are a lot of different kinds of water softener out there though but the difference in models aside there is also another debate – what kind of salt should be used with any water softener?
How Salt is Used in a Water Softener
Salt is the key to the efficient operation of any water softener. Added to the brine tank it provides the ion needed to replace the mineral ions that are being removed. A great many people think that only the sodium iron from sodium chloride (the salt you also use on your food) will get the job done but that is not the case.
You can also choose to use another substance – potassium chloride – in your water softener as well. Potassium chloride is a salt as well, the kind that is used to melt ice quickly in icy weather. But the question is are there any advantages to using potassium chloride over the more familiar sodium chloride?
Water Softener Myths
Before comparing the two salts there is a myth about salt and water softeners that should be addressed. One of the most persistent is that sodium chloride will damage your plumbing system. That however is not really the case, it has little to no effect at all. if an older hot water heater was very badly scaled by hard water the sodium may cause an occasional black residue but it is harmless.
Potassium Chloride Vs Sodium Chloride
There are pros and cons associated with the use of either substance and when making a choice it heps to understand what they are:
Potassium Chloride Pros:
- It is the more eco friendly choice as the potassium is a nutrient for plants, so water that contains it is great for watering the garden.
- It provides a better lather than water treated with sodium chloride, both with soaps and liquid detergents. That means even cleaner clothes and stain free dishes.
- There are studies that show people of all ages do not get enough potassium in their diets. Drinking this water can theoretically help address that issue.
Potassium Chloride Cons
- It is more expensive than sodium chloride
- It can mean you have to do more work maintaining your brine tank.
Sodium Chloride Pros
- Sodium chloride is less expensive and more readily available than potassium chloride.
- A brine tank that contains sodium chloride tend to stay cleaner than one with potassium chloride.
- Some minor skin conditions can be relieved thanks to the extra sodium in the sufferers bath or shower water.
Sodium Chloride Cons
- Those with a serious health condition that requires a low sodium diet may not be able to drink the water.
- Water softened with sodium chloride will do a better job when it comes to washing and laundry than hard water but not quite as good a job as potassium chloride will.
In the end which salt you choose is really a matter of preference and budget. It just may be nice to know that you do have options!