Trying to figure out how much salt the water softener you are considering buying uses is tricky.
There are so many factors that can go into the equation that it can get a little confusing. The main part you need to know is that the average amount can range from 20-80 pounds of salt that can be used in a month.
If you want simplicity, you can skip ahead to the calculations portion and put in your unique numbers to figure out a closer estimate of salt usage per month.
Water Softener Salt Brands
From the different brands, there are 3 standout top tier brands and then a couple of middle-tier brands that will do well as well. The top three will be Morton, Diamond Crystal, and Nature’s Own. Of the three, Morton is the top-rated out of all of them, then Diamond Crystal, and lastly Nature’s Own. All three brands are good quality and hard to go wrong with.
Morton is the household name. They are one of the top brands for salt products in all areas, and water softeners are no exception. They have 4 different options for the types of water softeners that they sell on the market, and each one has been designed to solve specific problems.
From crystal salt to salt pellets, to salt substitutes, they are the standard that everyone tries to match. At 99.98% salt purity in all their products, they are hard to beat in quality and price.
For every household name, there is a top competitor. This is where Diamond Crystal comes in. They have a 99.9% salt purity for their top-rated product. The lowest purity they claim for any product is 99.6% of all the products they have to offer.
If variety is the name of the game along with quality, then Diamond Crystal is your best choice, because they have over a dozen water softener products.
In a world where there are niches for specific products is where Nature’s Own lives. They have one product that is good enough to be recognized and sold not just nationally in the United States but internationally as well.
They only produce potassium cubes, which are a salt substitute. But they are great at what they do to where it passes the highest industry tests in the NSF/ANSI/CAN 60.
If you want a smaller company with an incredible reputation without having to think about what you are buying, then Nature’s Own is your go-to option.
The lesser-known brands are going to be Culligan and Impresa. Of these, Impresa is made just for a dishwasher that can use water softeners. Culligan is more known for its water softeners than its salt that can be used for all water softeners.
Types of Water Softener Salt
There are 3 different types of salts that you can put inside of water softeners, and they will come in different purity levels. The three types are pellets, crystals, and blocks. The purity levels will be rock salt, evaporated salt, and solar salt.
Lowest grade quality of salt and will contain impurities such as calcium sulfate, which will not let it dissolve easily. It will look like little rocks hence the name.
Has a 99.6% purity but will have trouble with high water hardness levels. It is created by the evaporation of seawater. This salt looks white and opaque.
This is the highest purity salt and will be 99.9% pure at the minimum and is the salt used for human consumption. It will dissolve almost completely into water and will leave little to no residue compared to other salts.
Crystals will normally come in purities of rock salt or solar salt. Evaporated salt in crystal form will be more expensive than the others if used.
Crystals will have the highest chance of leaving residue and having the salt turn into a mush that will require cleaning the tanks more frequently.
Pellets will come in purities of solar salt of evaporated salt. These will be the most used and the most recommended by any company due to having the best chance of leaving little to no residue behind based on the quality of the product you buy.
These will come in purities of solar salt or evaporated salt. Very few companies will recommend them for their water softeners. If they do then follow their directions for the proper use and make sure to clean the tanks properly.
The best type of these combinations will be evaporated salt in pellet forms since it will have the highest purity contents and best results of the salts.
The potassium chloride pellets are the same quality but more expensive. The next best combination after those will end up being a solar salt in pellet form. The worst combination will be rock salt since it only comes in crystal form, or block salt for most situations.
Water Softener Salt Cost
Depending on the purity and type of salt you are purchasing you can get a 40-pound bag of salt for as low as $4.50 before tax and up to $30 for a 40-pound bag. This will change slightly based on your location as well. Morton salts will cost more than the Diamond Crystals for the salt pellets in most locations.
As will the cost of Diamond Crystals costing more than Nature’s Own for the potassium chloride pellets in most locations as well. This cost will occur monthly if you are a family of four with hard water that has 7-10 grains per gallon in it.
Water Softener Salt Usage Calculations
When calculating water softener salt usage, you need to take a couple of factors into consideration. These are original hardness of water, family size, type of water softener unit you have (not included in the formula, just something to keep in mind), and how much water is used each day. The formula for figuring out the salt usage will look like this:
A = N x H x Q
Total number of grains of hardness to be removed, measured as grams of CaCO3 or NaCL = A
Number of Days Between Water Softener Regeneration Cycles = N
The volume of water passing through the treatment tank per day = Q (Gallons per day)
The hardness of the incoming water measured in PPM = H
When you have A, multiply it by 0.035274 to get the ounces of salt you are using each regeneration cycle.
How To Add Salt To a Water Softener
Adding salt to your water softener is not that difficult. Here is all you need to do:
- Open the brine tank, and if there is any salt buildup on the walls, use a cloth of some sort to clean up the walls before adding in any new salt.
- Check the salt level and see if it is where you expected from calculating your daily salt usage.
- Once that is done, and you need to put more salt in you simply just pour the salt into the tank for the level that it is meant to be at.
- After that is done the final step is to close the brine tank and let the water softener be until you check the salt levels again.
What Happens If My Water Softener Runs Out of Salt?
If your water softener runs out of salt do not freak out. The worst thing that can happen is a little extra wear and tear on your water softener system because of trying to regenerate with nothing to regenerate the resin beads. Without salt, the resin beads will not filter out minerals that make the water hard and stop performing their jobs until more salt is added.
The common side effects of hard water will return to your water until you add more salt to the system to flush out the resin beads.
If you had spots on your dishes and dry skin due to the hard water those problems will return until proper maintenance is done for the water softener.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answered
Does It Matter What Kind of Salt I use in my Water Softener?
To get the best results from your water softener the kind of salt that you use is going to be very important for your system. This is because all salts were not created equally. If you decide to go as cheap as you can with rock salt, you will have discolored water and less of your system’s lifespan.
If you use mid-range priced pellets with as pure of salt as you can get, then you will have a much better result and a longer lifespan for your system. This will end up saving you money in the long run by not needing to buy a new water softener system for a longer time period than if you go the cheap route with your salt.
How Long Should Water Softener Salt Last?
The salt in the water softener lifespan depends on multiple factors. These are the tank size, water usage, how much the system works to make the water soft, and how often it needs to regenerate.The average time will change based on what type of salt you put into the system.
When you have a smaller tank, have higher water usage, are having the system remove a lot of hardness from the water, and often regenerating you will end up having a lot shorter life for the salt. This could be anywhere from 3 to 4 days for needing to put more salt up to a couple of weeks.
When you have a larger tank, lower water usage, less hardness being removed from the water, and regenerating less often you will have longer lifespans for the salt. This could be anywhere from a week or two up to a month or so.
Are Crystals or Pellets Better for Water Softeners?
Pellets are going to be better for water softeners overall. Crystals while cheaper, will have a higher chance of impurities than pellets will. On top of that the pellets will leave less residue in the brine tanks than the crystals will.
An added benefit of pellets is that if you get the right ones, they will come with citric acid in their makeup. Citric acid is a cleaning agent and will help reduce the amount of maintenance that will need to be done for all your systems.
That all being said crystals can still be very pure and if you have low water usage can be a better option for low water usage families. At the same time, pellets are going to be a better option for families with medium to high water usage because they are made to last longer.
How many salts Should A Water Softener Use Per Month?
An example with a family of four for water usage will end up using between one 40-pound bag of salt each month and one and a half 40-pound bags a month for a total of around 60-pounds each month.
This will fluctuate depending on the different factors that will go into the number of saltwater softeners use, but you can expect a range of 5-20lbs of salt to be used each week to be within the normal range depending on your water usage (or 20-80 pounds a month).
How Much Salt Does A Whirlpool Water Softener Use?
When using the whirlpool recommendation for pellets as salt for their water softeners you can expect depending on water usage between 20-80 pounds of salt each month.
Can You Overfill a Water Softener with Salt?
Just as overdoing most things in life, you can overdo the amount of salt that is in the brine tank of your water softener.
If you are constantly filling the tank to the brim then you are inviting salt bridges to form and cause you trouble later.
Do your best to not allow the tank to get below a quarter of tank of salt. When refilling it, make sure to keep about 6 inches from the top of the tank empty.
Does Water Softener Salt Expire?
If you are getting pellets or salt with additives, it will expire, but usually long after you have already used it (unless you got a pallet or truckload for a very large discount). Due to the additives, it can expire after about 5 years. It could be a little longer or shorter depending on in the bag containing it has any holes in it or not.
If you have salt with little to no additives in it, it will take longer to expire or never expire due to salt being a preservative that does not support microbial growth.
Finding out how much salt your water softener uses is going to take some time and take a little bit more than just reading about it.
The 20-80 pound range that people tend to have with the water softeners gives a good maximum to know when something may be wrong with your system, but will not get you as close as paying attention to your system and doing calculations yourself will.