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FAQ: Water Softening & Softener Salt

Is there more than one type of water softener salt? 

Water softener salt comes in a few different forms (including cubes, blocks, etc.) but we keep it simple by sticking to two main salt types: solar crystals and pellets. For well water users, we also offer iron-fighter pellets, as they help reduce rust buildup in your tank. These are recommended if your water has heavy iron content or if you have an iron filtration system installed at home.

How do I know which salt is right for my home?

To maximize salt usage efficiency, we recommend solar salt for two-piece systems and pellet salt for one-piece systems.

For “cabinet style” one-piece units (brine tank is inside unit) we recommend pellet salt.

Pellet salt resembles a packing peanut in shape and texture. It is cleaner than solar salt, which can be why it is sometimes preferred over solar crystals.

If you have a cabinet style water softener, it’s best to use pellet salt. This is because in cabinet style units, solar salt can tend to form a ‘salt bridge’ at the top of the tank. This crystallized salt bridge hovers above the water, preventing it from reaching the salt and resulting in hard water at home.


For “side-by-side” two-piece units (brine tank on side) we recommend solar salt.


Solar crystals have a pebble-like appearance. It is common for there to be some dust residue from production, as solar salt is harvested from lakes.

Solar crystals are recommended if your water softener has a separate brine tank, as pellets have a tendency to ‘mush’ in two-piece systems. Solar crystals are also less expensive than pellets.

Is it okay to mix solar salt with pellet salt?

Don’t sweat it if you accidentally purchase the wrong type of salt or switch to another type. Softener salt will not damage your equipment. In fact, the water softener itself can’t tell what kind of salt is going into it!

What about the water softener salt brand? Does that matter?

Not really. The brands we carry at our shop may vary at different times of the year, depending on our suppliers and the seasonal batch quality of solar salt after. That being said, don’t assume you received the wrong product just because the packaging looks different from last time. (But please notify us if the product description doesn’t match your order!)


Should I be seeing salt when I look in my brine tank?

Yes. Although it is unnecessary to keep a tank chock full to the top at all times, there should always be salt visible at the water line. If you see water, then it’s time to add more salt. 🙂


Holy SALT BAGS, Batman! Where do I start?!

How much salt does the average home go through?

Salt usage varies widely and depends on your water usage, your equipment and your city’s degree of water hardness.

On average, a residential softener will use 50-80 lbs. of salt each month. It’s a good idea to check in on your softener’s salt levels once a month.

There is water in my salt tank… is that normal?

For most softening units it is normal to have a little bit of water in the bottom of the salt tank. When the water level rises above the salt it is time for your next salt delivery. Excessive water in the tank (one half full or more) is not normal, and may indicate a problem with the water softener.

Some units, such as those produced by GE and Sears, are dry salt storage units and should not have water in the tank. If you have a GE or Sears unit and there is water in your salt tank your softener may need a repair.

This is a two-piece water softening system. Your water softener salt is stored in a separate brine tank off to the side.

There is gray / tan foam on top of the salt in my tank… Should I set up a service call?

A little gray foam is nothing to worry about (especially if you aren’t experiencing hard water). If you use solar salt, the dust you may see in the salt or the tank is natural and completely normal; it will NOT harm your system.

Is the dusty, foamy brine water coming into my home?!

Nope! The water that comes into your home only passes through the softener–not the brine tank where salt is stored.

What should I use to clean my salt tank?

Solar salt crystals accrue dust naturally when it is harvested from lakes, and that dust can really dirty up the inside of your brine tank. Aside from the unattractive appearance, It is not necessary to clean out your brine tank, but if you choose to, we recommend using water with a little bit of bleach. Ask about our high-grade pellet salt for a cleaner tank with less work.