Water Softener Salt vs Potassium Regen: Which Is Better?

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Water softener salt has been the traditional choice in water softeners since these water treatment systems were invented.

But a relatively new type of regenerant has been steadily becoming more popular over the past years: potassium chloride.

Here, we’ve compared sodium chloride and potassium chloride water softeners, helping you to decide which is best for your situation.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Water softener salt is a sodium chloride product that’s used as a charged ion during the ion exchange process.
  • Potassium chloride is a sodium-free alternative that plays the same role in the water softener resin beads in producing softened water.
  • Water softener salt is best if you’re looking for a cheap, effective option, while potassium chloride is best if you have a bigger budget and want a regenerant that won’t increase your sodium intake.

🤔 Is Water Softener Salt Or Potassium Chloride Best?

Neither water softener salt nor potassium chloride is better than the other, but one of these regenerants might be best for your personal situation.

If you want to limit your sodium intake as much as possible, you’re on a low-sodium diet, and you don’t like the taste of salt-softened water, potassium chloride is probably best for you.

If you want to spend less money on water softener maintenance, you don’t mind adding very small quantities of sodium to your water, and you want the most efficient regenerant, then water softener salt is best for you.

water softener salt vs potassium (sodium chloride vs potassium chloride)

🆚 Potassium Chloride Vs Water Softener Salt: Key Similarities

To help you make the most informed decision, let’s take a look at some of the key similarities between potassium chloride and sodium chloride softening salts.

Appearance

Sodium chloride and potassium chloride softeners both have a similar appearance.

Sodium chloride is usually sold in granules (like the salt that’s added to food) or pellets, while potassium chloride is mostly sold in pellet form. Both softening products are usually packaged in large bags, so you can pour them straight into your softener.

Method Of Use

Using potassium chloride is no different than using sodium chloride in your water softener.

Both regenerants should be added to your softener’s brine tank (or salt tank). You can add potassium on top of sodium, or vice versa, since they both do the same thing when used in the resin tank.

Regardless of the type of regenerant you’re using, you add the same amount as you always would to the brine tank – usually to the max fill line.

Adding salt to water softener brine tank

Softening Performance

Both sodium chloride and potassium chloride are used for the same purpose during the water softening process.

A water softener uses either regenerant in its resin beads, which are loaded in the mineral tank. When hard water flows through this tank, the calcium and magnesium ions are trapped in the resin and the regenerant – either sodium or potassium ions – is released from the resin to balance water’s charge.

It doesn’t matter whether you use potassium or sodium chloride in your water softener. They’re both composed of positively-charged ions, so they both have the same effect on water softening.

⚖️ Potassium Chloride vs Water Softener Salt: Key Differences

Now let’s look at some of the main differences between sodium chloride and potassium chloride water softener salts.

Efficiency

Potassium chloride isn’t as efficient as sodium chloride in salt-based water softeners. Most potassium chloride manufacturers instruct you to increase your water hardness setting by 20% when using potassium chloride to enjoy the same water softening benefits.

That means you’ll go through potassium chloride at a faster rate because more of this regenerant is needed to produce the same outcome as sodium chloride.

Potassium chloride vs water softener salt efficiency

👨‍🔧 Continue Reading: Adjusting Water Softener Hardness Setting (Step-by-Step)

Makeup

The makeup of potassium chloride water softener salt is different from that of sodium chloride.

Potassium chloride is made from potassium, while sodium chloride is made from sodium. You may be more comfortable increasing your potassium intake in your drinking water compared to increasing your sodium intake.

Cost

The price of sodium chloride vs potassium chloride is another big difference between the two.

A bag of potassium chloride pellets is twice, or even up to four times, the price of the same-sized bag of sodium chloride pellets.

That means potassium chloride is significantly costlier to use in a water softener in the long term than sodium chloride.

Environmental Effects

Sodium chloride water softener pellets have been the source of some environmental concerns.

Some sources say that water softener discharge water with high levels of sodium chloride regenerant is damaging to soils and may have harmful effects on the ecosystem.

Potassium water softeners are considered the more environmentally-friendly solution because potassium doesn’t cause the same damage as sodium – in fact, many plants need potassium to grow healthily.

Backwashing a water softener

🔎 When Is Water Softener Salt Best?

Water softener salt is the best choice for you if:

  • You have a smaller budget or just want to restrict your annual spend on softener maintenance.
  • You want to have lots of options and don’t want to be limited to just a few brands.
  • You prefer the tried-and-tested regenerant that has the most efficient performance in water softeners.
  • You don’t have any specific health restrictions or reasons to limit your intake of sodium.

🔎 When Is Potassium Chloride Best?

Potassium chloride is best for you if:

  • You have a health condition (like high blood pressure) and have been instructed by your doctor to reduce your salt intake as much as possible.
  • You’re happy to spend more money on a regenerant for the benefit of softened water that’s free from sodium ions.
  • You have a septic system and want to stay safe by using a potassium water softener in your water rather than sodium.
  • You prefer a more environmentally friendly regenerant that shouldn’t affect your local ecosystem.

👨‍⚖️ Should You Choose Water Softener Salt Or Potassium Chloride?

Ultimately, there’s no clear winner when we compare sodium chloride vs potassium chloride for water softeners.

Sodium chloride softener is best for some people, while potassium is best for others. Consider your situation, including your budget and personal preferences, when deciding between the two.

And remember, both regenerants are interchangeable, so choosing one doesn’t mean you have to stick with it forever. You could always switch from sodium to potassium, and vice versa, whenever you wanted to.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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