A water softener is a must in many homes. Hard water can wreak havoc on plumbing fixtures, stain clothing, be rough on your skin, and taste awful when it's used for drinking or food preparation. Fortunately, a salt-based water softener can make the water much more pleasant to use and to consume. These softeners use a brine system, which uses salt to attract the hard minerals and to remove them from the water. Understanding your salt choices is key to keeping a properly running softener system.
Option #1: Rock Salt
Rock salt is a common option because it is the least expensive and most readily available. It dissolves in the water softener tank slowly and it often contains insoluble minerals. This can lead to a sludge-like build up in your softener tank, which then decreases how well the softener works. A poorly performing softener then means more hard water minerals are going to make it into your home's plumbing pipes. If you opt to use rock salt, you will need to clean out the tank every few months to ensure the sludge doesn't cause any major issues or loss of water quality.
Option #2: Solar Salt
Sea salt is the basis of solar salt. This salt is extracted from sea water by means of solar evaporation. Since it comes from the sea and not from a mine, like rock salt, it is less contaminated with hard or insoluble minerals. This means it is more soluble and less prone to leaving behind heavy sludge. Keep in mind, though, that even though it has fewer minerals, it isn't mineral-free. This means that some build-up will eventually occur in the tank. You will still need to clean out the tank occasionally, just not as often as you would with rock salt.
Option #3: Evaporated Salt
Evaporated salt is the purest, containing almost no insoluble minerals. It is a mined salt that is then exposed to man-made evaporation techniques, as opposed to the solar techniques used in the option above. This results in nearly complete mineral removal, although trace amounts can still remain. Evaporated salt is the most expensive option, but your system will need less frequent cleaning and maintenance, so it can also save you on repairs in the long run. You will also have the best softening capabilities and the highest quality water possible.
Contact a softener salt delivery company in your area to price the option available to you, so you can make a choice that fits both your budget and your water needs.