Water Softener Salt Crystals vs. Pellets

Whether you just bought a new water softener or still using an old one choosing the right type of salt is key in ensuring your appliance works perfectly. For one, it is a crucial part of the softener’s maintenance, washing away trapped water hardness minerals in resin beds.

But which type of salt should you use? Don’t they all work the same?

I have some information for you today. Information that will help you pick a side between the contentious water softener salt crystals vs. pellets debate.

Let’s dive right in.

Are Water Softener Crystals Better Than Pellets?

Most homeowners deal with this question, and unfortunately, no answer ever comes their way. If you just bought a new water softener, I am certain you are asking the same question. Which of the two is more efficient? Is the chemical composition any different?

Here, let’s have a look at each:

Water Softener Salt Crystals

In a nutshell, salt crystals are about 99.5% sodium chloride and extracted through thermal or solar evaporation to form the iconic tiny crystals. They look just like the common table salt, only that they don’t contain iodine.

Advantages of Salt Crystals in Water Softeners

Let’s look at some of the advantages of salt crystals and why you should probably use them.

  1. They dissolve faster in water – During regeneration, salt has to dissolve in water to wash away the trapped water hardness minerals in the resin bed. Salt crystals dissolve faster in water, making the ion exchange process even faster. Within a few minutes, the crystals are usually saturated.

More so, during cold seasons such as winter, the overall solubility of salts is usually low, so with salt crystals, you will achieve relatively faster solubility than salt pellets.

  1. Ideal for two-part water softening units – If you have a two-part water softening unit, using salt crystals would be a better option since you don’t run the risk of bridging.
  2. Pure Salt – When dissolved in water, salt crystals form a clear solution. An indication of no impurities present, which guarantee effective ion exchange.
  3. Ideal for smaller households– Salt crystals are ideal for households with a few people because they consume less water, so there is infrequent regeneration. For such, there will be no clogging or bridging in the brine tank.

Disadvantages of Salt Crystals in Water Softeners

Now, let’s have a look at why you probably won’t need salt crystals for your water softener.

  1. Bridging – One of the biggest downsides of salt crystals is bridging. Because they are highly soluble, the water gets to the top and hardens the surface, and after several regenerations, a gap is left between the hardened part and the bottom of the tank.

The results? Hard water flowing through your taps.

  1. You will use more salt – You are likely to use more salt because of the high solubility nature of crystals. They will saturate faster, meaning that more salt will be needed for another round of regeneration.

Water Softener Salt Pellets

Salt pellets are also manufactured through solar evaporation, only that the minerals are extracts from underground salt deposits. They are then pressed together to form pellets. The extraction and manufacturing process makes salt pellets 99.9% pure.

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Advantages of Salt Pellets

Here are some advantages of salt pellets and probable reasons why you should use them over salt crystals.

  1. They prevent bridging- Salt pellets are larger than salt crystals. Therefore, they are less soluble in water, thus promoting a no clamping situation. When salts clamp together, they stick and harden, creating a barrier in water flow, a situation called bridging.
  2. Ideal for heavy water users – Salt pellets are recommended for heavy water users such as apartments, hospitals, restaurants, and businesses.
  3. Perfect for all in one water softeners– Those with all in one water softeners are advised to use salt pellets because they are less sticky, thus inhibiting bridging.

Disadvantages of  Salt Pellets

The main downside of salt pellets is that they are slightly more expensive than salt crystals. However, the cost is justifiable because of the labor intensive extraction, and processing.

Besides they are far more effective than salt crystals.

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Which is Better Softener Salt Pellets or Crystals

Now to the verdict. Which side of the water softener salt crystals vs. pellets debate are you siding with?

We’ve looked at how the two salts work, and I must state that what stands out is the bridging problem.

Although salt crystals are highly soluble and promote faster regeneration, they are likely to form bridging in the salt tank. Besides, they are less pure than salt pellets and only ideal for small households. However, if you have a two-tank water softener, then you might want to use salt crystals.

On the other hand, salt pellets inhibit bridging because they are non-sticky, so no clumping happens. Additionally, they are very pure, thus maximum ion exchange. I should also add that if you use an all-in-one water softener, then salt pellets are the most ideal.

Businesses, hospitals, restaurants, and apartment buildings prefer salt pellets because of the high non-bridging aspect. They are ideal when water consumption is heavy.

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Water Softener Salt Crystals vs. Pellets: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Are pellets or Crystals better for water softeners?

If you are using an all-in-one water softener, then pellets are the most ideal; however, you can still use salt crystals only when you don’t use too much water. When there is heavy water consumption, such as in hospitals, restaurants, and schools, it is advised to use salt pellets.

Q: Which salt is better for water softeners?

There are several types of salts available for water softeners. It is recommended to use either sodium chloride or potassium chloride-based salts. But, most people use Sodium chloride salts such as pellet salts since they are more effective than the latter.

Q: What is better for water softener salt or potassium?

Sodium-based salts are better than potassium-based salts because they are cheaper and more effective. However, some people have restrictions on sodium in their diet, making potassium-based salts a better option for them.

Bottom Line

The water softener salt crystals and pellets debate is likely to continue for a longer time. Still, for now, you have all the necessary information you need to make an informed decision.

Also, be mindful of the bridging effect because you can end using hard water unknowingly.

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