Salt and Your Water Softener: Fact or Fiction?

Water purification can take many forms. From the most basic of carbon filters to the cool science of reverse osmosis, water softeners are often seen as complicated or confusing devices. The use of salt is wrongly listed as a major drawback in water softening. Here's a quick rundown of the facts and fictions of salt and soft water.

True: You have to replenish your water softener's salt (regenerant) yourself.

False: It is a difficult and time-consuming process.

In standard water softeners, salt is a necessary ingredient in the regeneration process. Without it, the calcium and magnesium particles would remain bound to the plastic beads. The common misconception about monitoring and replenishing the salt in your water softener is that it is a messy and laborious chore. This couldn't be further from the truth. Not only is the brine tank easy to locate and open, nothing but your eyes are needed to determine whether or not more salt is needed. If you have too little salt, water will be visible in the bottom of the tank. Always aim for the halfway point of your tank to maintain the proper amount of salt without overdoing it.

True: You need to purchase salt for your water softener.

False: Any salt will do.

Whoever sold and installed your water softener will likely offer their specific brand of salt or regenerants for your system. In most cases, these are high-quality salts, but less expensive alternatives can be found elsewhere. When you're browsing your local home improvement store for salt pellets, make sure you're selecting a high-purity salt. Avoid rock salt and solar salt as they have a highly insoluble composition. This means you'll spend more time cleaning out and breaking up salt bridging in your brine tank. If you have the financial means, stock up on the dealer recommended salt. A few bags will likely last you and your high-quality water softener several years.

True: Some salt is left behind in your soft water.

False: It's enough to affect your health.

In the regeneration process, small amounts of sodium can be left behind in your newly softened water. This has been wrongly touted as a serious health concern when discussing the pros and cons of water softeners. According to the Mayo Clinic, "An 8-ounce (237-milliliter) glass of softened water generally contains less than 12.5 milligrams of sodium, which is well within the Food and Drug Administration's definition of 'very low sodium.'" If you are on a low sodium diet and still have concerns about drinking soft water, speak with your personal care physician for more personalized information.

In standard water softeners, salt is all of the necessary without the evil. So set those misconceptions aside and embrace the facts. Not only is managing the salt in your water softener a simple as a quick peak and a short sprinkle, the times you'll need to do it will be few and far between. Sodium may hurt elsewhere, but your water softener is definitely the exception to the rule. Put those worries to rest. Pure, softened water can be easily obtained without any salt-related stress.