Many water softener users are familiar with replacing water softener pellets periodically. Some may wonder what is in the pellets that helps to soften and remove minerals from household water.
Sodium chloride, also known as salt, is the principle ingredient in water softeners. As the water within the unit passes through the salt granules, the molecular bonds between water and minerals are broken. The minerals are filtered out and replaced by sodium chloride in the household water. There are three major types of water softener salts: rock, solar and evaporated.
Rock salt is one type of salt that can be found in water softeners, though it is the least favorable salt to use. Rock salt is harvested from underground salt mines and is not as water-soluble as other options. Since rock salt does not dissolve well in water softeners, it does not do an efficient job of removing other minerals from water.
Solar salt is made from salty ocean water that has been evaporated away to leave only salt grains behind. Because solar salt is more soluble than rock salt, many water softener installation companies recommend it for homes with moderate to hard water.
Evaporated salt is mined from underground sources and left to dry to remove all moisture content. Because evaporated salt is the most water-soluble softener, it is usually recommended for homes that have very hard water.
Water softener salts can sometimes contain impurities like metal, dust and debris picked up during the mining and manufacturing processes. These impurities are usually removed during the water softener's filtration process.