The Big Debate: Sodium Chloride Versus Potassium

“What is the difference between sodium chloride and potassium chloride as a regenerant?” “Is one better than the other?” “How do I know which is right for me and my family?”  To determine the answers to these questions, it would be best to first understand the role that the regenerant plays in softening your water.   Depending on the type of regenerant used, the softener’s resin bed is covered with either potassium chloride or sodium chloride.  When hard water enters the softener, the hardness minerals such as calcium and magnesium undergo a process known as ion exchange.  During this process, the minerals will get attracted to the resin bed while the potassium or sodium chloride ion is released into the water hence entering your household.  When the resin bed is full, the minerals proceed to be flushed out.   When deciding on a regenerant, it is important to consider these five factors.  
  • Cost  
It is important to note that potassium is significantly more expensive than sodium chlorine.  In fact, almost three times as much.  Secondly, in my experience, customers seem to have a much tougher time purchasing potassium.  If your aim is to find a cost-effective and readily available regenerant, sodium chloride is right for you.  
  • Softening Capabilities  
Nothing to worry about here, as both regenerants are equally capable of softening your water.  
  • Health Concerns  
As examined in last month’s blog, a minute amount of sodium chloride does enter your household water, but its effects are close to none.  However, if you are on a low sodium diet, you may want to avoid adding more sodium chloride into your water.  While potassium has many health benefits, with such low quantities being consumed, its effects are also significantly minimized.  
  • Environmental Concerns  
If you own any sort of plants, I’m sure you are aware that water containing sodium chloride has slightly negative effects on your plants.  In order to avoid this catastrophe, our technicians and sales representatives will advise you to bypass your irrigation, however there is an added cost to doing so.  On the other hand, potassium chloride will help plants grow faster and solidify the soil.   Additionally, customers have expressed concerns about draining salt water down their sewage system or septic tank but in a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it has stated that salt is not harmful towards septic systems.   
  • Bridging  
Bridging is one thing I commonly warn customers about when they choose to go with potassium.  This occurs when the regenerant clumps together preventing it from fully dissolving to make brine solution.  In most cases, this happens because of high humidity, change in temperature around the unit, or adding an excessive amount of potassium.  We often suggest customers use a long broom to push down to the bottom of the softener and stir the potassium to break up the bridge.   In conclusion, both regenerants have their pros and cons.  You can count on our sales representatives to recommend the best suited regenerant depending on your household needs.  If any time throughout your ownership of a Kinetico softener, you decide to switch from potassium to sodium chloride or vice versa, our set-up makes the transition very seamless.  If you are interested in our Kinetico softener, sign up for a FREE onsite water consultation here or call us at 408.371.5521!   Sources   RJ DeLuke, “EPA says Water Softener Discharge is not Harmful,” Industry Issues, 2002, chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/