Salt Pellets vs. Crystals for a Water Softener

by Jay | Updated on December 22nd, 2022

Water containing a high concentration of dissolved minerals is considered “hard.” Water softeners eliminate water hardness by bringing minerals together and are thus used to soften the water in our homes, businesses, and pools.

Water softeners are available in pelleted or crystal form, and deciding between the two might be challenging if you don’t grasp the differences in their application.

Salt Pellets vs Crystals

Why should you be concerned about minerals in your tap water?

In addition to influencing the flavor of your tap water, dissolved minerals such as iron and magnesium can cause plumbing problems by generating scale accumulation in the water pipes. This can restrict water flow to your delivery systems, lowering the efficiency of your dishwasher, water heater, furnace, and water pump.

Hard water also reduces the effectiveness of cleaning products such as detergents and soaps, resulting in yellowing or discolored laundry and stained dishes and sinks.

The water in your faucets comprises more than simply hydrogen and oxygen. Minerals and salts may also be present. The presence of these different compounds in the water you drink can cause damage to your appliances.

Furthermore, it dehydrates the skin, makes house cleaning difficult, and increases the amount of hair shampoo and conditioner needed to clean your hair and body, not to mention making washing off cleaning product residue difficult.

Water softening is an excellent technique for dealing with this problem. Water softener pellets or crystals keep a water-softening system running. Let’s take a closer look at how these crystals work.

How Do Salt Pellets/Crystals Help Soften Water?

Salt pellets and crystals are made of sodium chloride, which helps make the water softer. When water enters the softener tank, it passes through the salt pellets or crystals, where the sodium ions exchange places with the hard minerals in the water.

This process removes the minerals, making the water much softer. Salt pellets and crystals effectively soften water, as they dissolve easily and don’t leave any residue behind. As long as the salt product is specifically designed for water softeners, it can soften hard water effectively.

Water softener crystals or pellets

We’ve seen several methods for converting hard water to soft water. On the other hand, the ion-exchange resin approach is the most extensively employed. This is because the ion-exchange resin approach relies heavily on water-softener crystals.

The salt you use in your brine solution will affect how well your water softener works.

Salt crystals and pellets both soften water, but pellets cause fewer issues in the long run.

Crystals perform well in a two-part water-softening machine. On the other hand, pellets should be used if you have an all-in-one softening unit.

What are the different types of salt available?

When it comes to water softeners, there are a variety of salt products that can be used.

Crystal salt

Crystal or coarse salt is commonly known as “rock salt.” It is a mined substance that is extracted from subsurface salt deposits. It is approximately 98.5 percent pure as a natural product. The principal contaminant is calcium sulfate, which does not dissolve in water and settles to the brine tank’s bottom as sediment when the water softener regenerates.

Crushed coarse rock salt is packed and sold. Because rock salt takes less processing than pellet salt, it is typically less expensive. However, it also contains many other minerals that might leave a residue in the brine tank.

Salt crystals can be a great option if you have a two-part water-softening machine. It can also be suitable if you have a low daily water consumption.

On the other hand, Crystal salt should not be mistaken for solar salt crystals, a more expensive 99.5 percent pure product manufactured by evaporating saltwater with sunlight.

Solar salt

This type of salt is made by evaporating sea saltwater. Salt crystals are left behind after water evaporates. As a result, they are also known as water-softener crystals.

Solar salt contains 99.5 percent pure sodium chloride and is more soluble than rock salt. Because it results in less buildup, using a water-softener crystal will extend the life of your water-softening system.

Salt crystals should never be used in a system that uses a lot of water because they can induce bridging. Likewise, it is not recommended to use it if you have an all-in-one water softening system.

Is solar salt the same thing as crystals?

Salt is salt, regardless of how it is marketed, is the same chemical, whether they are created by evaporation from the sun’s heat or mined from the earth.

Those mined salt deposits were also formed by natural solar evaporation a long time ago.

The texture of the crystals may be the source of the variance. Solar evaporation yields a softer, more soluble crystal several times faster than crushing rock salt.

Salt pellets

Because it is the purest form of salt, it is the most expensive sodium-based salt. It is produced in two phases. The raw salt crystals are converted to sodium chloride in the first stage. Heaters are employed in the second stage to remove surplus moisture.

They are available in pellet form and are thought to be the most effective in softening hard water.

Water softener salt pellets can help you improve your experience with hard water softening in a few ways.

Some of the advantages you are likely to obtain from using salt pellets are as follows:

  • First, it prevents bridging or mushing within the water softener brine tank.
  • It might be an outstanding solution for those of you looking for all-in-one softening devices, 
  • It is an excellent option for your need for heavy water usage.

The salt pellets are made up of 99.99 percent pure salt. They are also considered the best food-grade salts for water-softening needs. The salt is cleaned before being compacted into pillow-shaped pellets. As a result, it would be the purest form of salt. Because salt pellets do not leave any residue in the tank, they are considered one of the best solutions for your water-softening needs.

Salt pellets could be a good solution to eliminate the bridging effect in your water softener. These salts are typically combined with citric acid to remove material buildup prospects. Citric acid-added pellets may be one of the best solutions for your long-term protection needs.

Salt crystals vs. salt pellets: Which is better?

The type of salt has a far greater impact on the water treatment softening system than you may assume. That is why it is critical to understand the many types of salt.

Crystals Facts

  • Natural evaporation of saltwater results in the formation of salt crystals. Brine ponds are constructed to expose seawater to sunlight, and the water in the ponds becomes concentrated over time.
  • The concentrated solution is exposed to sunshine until it hardens into a solid mass. This salt is referred to as salt crystals or solar salt.
  • Solar salt has a higher purity level than rock salt. It has a purity of 99.6 percent.
  • Salt crystals are indicated for persons who use less soft water than the average. If you utilize salt crystals with a lot of water, you’ll immediately notice a bridging problem in the brine tank.

Pellets Facts

  • The vacuum evaporation process creates salt pellets. This process yields nearly pure salt (99.9% sodium chloride). It is the purest and most commonly used form of salt in softening applications.
  • This is suited for moderate to heavy soft water usage. The benefit of using salt pellets is that you will never have to clean your brine tank over its entire life.
  • We highly recommend this salt because it is the purest kind of salt available.


  • Salt pellets dissolve faster, so they are more efficient at softening water.
  • Salt pellets are less likely to cause clogging in the water softener
  • Salt pellets are easier to store and transport than salt crystals
  • The smaller size of the salt pellets makes it easier to measure and dispense the right amount of salt for water softening


  • Salt pellets cost more than salt crystals
  • Salt pellets can be messy to handle since they can be powdery and easily spilled
  • Salt pellets may not last as long as salt crystals, meaning they will need to be replenished more often

Pros of Salt Crystal

  • Low cost
  • Easily available
  • Long-lasting crystals
  • easy to store and transport
  • Non-corrosive and does not damage the water softener

Cons of Salt Crystal

  • Requires manual cleaning and maintenance
  • Requires refilling the crystal tank regularly can
  • be difficult to dissolve in water

Pros of Salt Pellets

  • Quickly dissolves in water
  • No need for manual cleaning or maintenance
  • Does not require frequent refills

Cons of Salt Pellets

  • More expensive than salt crystals
  • Can cause blockages in the water softener system over time
  • Not as readily available as salt crystals

The cost of using salt pellets/crystals in water softeners

Salt pellets and salt crystals are both relatively inexpensive options for softening water. The cost of the salt will depend on the type and amount you purchase.

Generally, you will pay less for salt if you purchase it in bulk. Solar salt pellets are more expensive than traditional salt, but they may be better if you have a single-tank water softener. They will dissolve quickly and evenly, leaving no residue behind.

Why do impurities matter?

When coarse rock salt is used in your water softener, contaminants build at the bottom of the brine tank and can ultimately clog the brine tank outlet. The more you regenerate your softener, the quicker rock salt sediment accumulates. When utilizing rock salt only, you should clear out the bottom of your brine tank every four to six months to prevent softener malfunction. Even if you renew frequently, you won’t have to clean your brine tank for years using salt pellets.


Another distinction is that coarse rock salt is typically offered with no additives. On the other hand, Pellet salt manufacturers offer products with additional compounds that help clean the softer and remove low iron levels in the water (less than two parts per million). In addition, different salts operate with different softeners.

Is it okay to mix water-softener salt crystals with pellets?

Most water softeners function well with all types of salt, and mixing different salt is not harmful. However, depending on the design of a specific softener, some salt kinds may be more appropriate.

Because the brine tank is easily accessible for cleaning, the side-by-side machines with independent brine tanks can work with rock salt or pellets.

Because all-in-one cabinet-style softeners are challenging to clean, pellet salt is preferable because it contains few insoluble contaminants that might produce silt.

Manufacturers of all-in-one or single-tank softeners typically recommend pellets. However, because the resin tank is located inside the brine tank, salt crystals may harden, resulting in a “crust” surrounding the resin tank. As a result, the tank may be unable to descend to the water level.

Homeowners who use softeners with no salt screen on the brine tank’s underside may be advised to use pellets to prevent crystals from sucking into the brine draw line. Overall, following the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the salt types in your water softener is best.

Can I substitute salt pellets for crystals?

Salt pellets are the best alternative for practically all your needs in water-softening equipment. They will prevent bridging and have been reviewed as outstanding options for improving the best-grade soft water performance criteria. As a result, salt pellets can be used instead of salt crystals.

Salt crystals are highly suggested in circumstances where very little water is used. Adopting a salt crystal option can be one of the best solutions if you use a lower amount of water or have a two-part water softening system. In addition, salt pellets might be a great choice if you have an all-in-one water softener system at your home because they can help you prevent bridging.

Alternatives to using salts for water softening solutions

When it comes to alternatives to using salt pellets or crystals for water softening, there are some options available. One option is a reverse osmosis system which uses a filter to remove the minerals that cause hard water.

Another option is a magnetic water softener which uses magnets to separate the minerals in the water and reduce their effects. Finally, some systems use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride, often called “no-salt” or salt-free water softener systems. While these alternatives may effectively reduce hard water, they can be costly and require more maintenance than salt-based systems.


In conclusion, salt pellets and crystals effectively soften hard water. Both products have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the right one for your water softener, depending on your system’s size, type, and usage. Both products are available at a relatively low cost, but other alternatives, such as magnets or chemical treatments, may be more expensive. Proper maintenance and handling of your salt supply are also important for effective system performance.


Jay is a health and wellness enthusiast with expertise in water quality and nutrition. As a knowledgeable advocate for holistic well-being, Jay successfully manages Type 2 Diabetes through informed lifestyle choices. Committed to sharing reliable and authoritative insights, Jay combines firsthand experience with a passion for enhancing health."