Are Salt Pellets or Crystals Better for Water Softeners?

Salt is a key component in any water-softening system. It helps to remove minerals that can cause problems in plumbing and appliances. The two most popular forms of salt used in water softeners are pellets and crystals. But which one is the better option?

Salt pellets are more effective than salt crystals when it comes to water softening, however at a higher cost. This is due to the higher solubility of the smaller pellet shape, resulting in a greater concentration of anion and cation species in the solution. Furthermore, the larger surface area of the salt pellets allows for easier dissolution into water systems, thereby increasing their efficacy as a water softener.

In this article, I’ll explore both types of salt for water softeners, so you can make an informed decision about what will work best for your needs.

Understanding Salt Pellets and Salt Crystals 

Salt pellets and salt crystals are two popular options for water softeners, but what’s the difference between the two, and which one is more effective?

Salt Pellets

Salt pellets are small, uniform particles of salt that are used to reduce the hardness of the water. These pellets are designed to dissolve consistently in water, making them an ideal choice for water softeners. Salt pellets provide more efficient regeneration of the water softener’s ion-exchange resin, which is the key to effective water softening.

Salt Crystals

Salt crystals, on the other hand, are particles of salt that are more difficult to dissolve in water. As a result, the regeneration of the ion-exchange resin in water softeners using salt crystals is less efficient than with salt pellets. Additionally, salt crystals can cause problems with the water softener’s brine tank, as the large particles can clog the filters.

When it comes to choosing the right type of salt for your water softener, salt pellets are the clear winner. However, salt crystals are more affordable than salt pellets, making them an ideal choice for people with a lower budget.

Salt Pellets Vs. Polystyrene Beads – Which One to Pick?

It’s no secret that both salt pellets and polystyrene beads can soften water effectively, but most homeowners tend to opt for salt pellets. The reason? They are suitable for both high- and low-water needs, while polystyrene beads are meant for higher volumes of water only. 

The best way to ensure you get the right water softener system for your home is to consult a professional. You may also consider installing a floating salt valve, which will automatically regulate water usage and soften water according to demand. With this type of system, you can enjoy softened water with ease.

Water Softener Salt Pellets Vs. Salt Crystals FAQs

Can I use both water softener salt pellets and salt crystals together? 

Yes, you can mix salt pellets and crystals as both are composed of sodium chloride. Thus, when mixed together, the pellets and crystals form a homogenous solution with a consistent concentration of NaCl throughout.

Which softener salt is more affordable, Salt Pellets or Crystals?

Salt pellets are generally more expensive than crystals due to the increased cost of processing and packaging. By contrast, crystals require less labor for production and packaging, making them a more economical choice for consumers. However, pellets have been found to be more effective at reducing water hardness compared to crystals, leading to recommend their use despite their higher cost.

What is the best type of salt for a water softener?

The best type of salt for a water softener is evaporated salt pellets due to their high purity and low insoluble content. Evaporated salt pellets are formed through a process of solar evaporation which leaves behind a crystalized form of sodium chloride, making them ideal for water softener applications. The pellet shape is more suitable than other forms as it allows for optimum flow and dispersion, resulting in improved brine production.

What advantages do Salt Pellets have compared to Salt Crystals?

Water Softener Salt Pellets dissolve more quickly, meaning they can provide better and faster water-softening results. They also leave less residue in the water and are less likely to clog the system.

What are the disadvantages of using Salt Crystals for water softening?

Salt Crystals dissolve slowly, so water can remain hard for some time before softening takes effect. Additionally, they can leave a gritty residue that can be difficult to rinse off.

Should you let your water softener run out of salt?

It is highly inadvisable to allow a water softener to run out of salt, as this will inevitably lead to an undesirable outcome. The process of ion exchange, which is necessary for the successful operation of the softener, relies on an adequate amount of salt within its system in order to function properly. Without sufficient levels of salt, the softening process will be seriously compromised; this could result in the buildup of scale and other contaminants throughout the water supply.

How long does a 40 lb bag of water softener salt last?

Assuming an average hardness of the water supply and with a family of four, it can be estimated that a 40-pound bag of water softener salt should last approximately one month. This is predicated on the notion that typical water softening systems require frequent replenishment of the salt capacity in order to ensure optimal performance and efficacy.


Whether you’re looking to reduce the hardness of your water or just want to save some money, understanding the differences between salt pellets and salt crystals can help you choose the right type of salt for your water softener. Salt pellets offer more efficient regeneration of the ion-exchange resin and fewer problems with the brine tank, making them the more effective choice for most water softeners.