Yes, there are three main types of salts that can be used in softeners.
- Sodium Pellets are the most commonly used type of salt in water softeners. They are manmade and usually come in a yellow bag. Some softeners may recommend rock salt, which is actually mined, over sodium pellets. However, it's the same type of salt.
- Potassium Pellets can be used as a sodium substitute and is recommended for those who are watching their sodium intake. Potassium pellets are compatible with any water softener and can be purchased at many of the same stores where sodium pellets are sold for about the same cost.
- Solar Salt comes from evaporated seawater and may sometimes leave a pink "bio-film" or stain in sinks and tubs. The pink film is actually a harmless bacteria that comes from the sea salt. If this stain is an annoyance in your home, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends switching to one of the other two types of salts. Once the new salt has had a chance to completely replace the solar salt in your system, then purchase some water softener filter cleaner to clean out your softener as instructed in your owner's manual or on the cleaner label.
A major drawback of salt-based ion-exchange water softeners is the chloride they produce and discharge into septic or sewage systems. Chloride from salt can seep into and pollute groundwater from on-site septic systems. Chloride also enters the environment via wastewater treatment facilities. Because facilities aren’t designed to remove it, chloride ends up in rivers, lakes and streams. High levels of chloride in the environment are toxic to fish and aquatic creatures. For more information, visit the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website at https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/skinny-water-softeners