Apr 302012
 

Water Going Down DrainUsing potassium chloride in your water softener instead of sodium chloride offers many advantages. However, there are also some inconveniences. Not only is potassium chloride for water softeners more expensive, but it can be harder to find. Sodium pellets are seemingly everywhere – from small convenience stores to large superstores like Target and Walmart. Potassium pellets, on the other hand, are often confined to dedicated home improvement stores like Menards. Even then, finding potassium and be hit-or-miss.

If you can’t find potassium pellets at a local store, there are many places where you can find it online. Of course, shipping on such hefty bags can cost more than the product itself. Unless you can find a seller who offers free shipping, a better option may be to buy through a local water softener company. They often have a wider variety of options, and may even offer affordable (or even free) water softener salt delivery.

Finding potassium chloride may not be easy, but in many cases, the benefits are worth it. For a variety of reasons, adding sodium to your home’s tap water isn’t ideal. But maybe even more importantly, it’s not great for your waste water either. Potassium is an alternative that addresses both issues.

Sodium and Your Health

People on low sodium diets know how hard it is to avoid salt. The amount of sodium water softeners add is generally very small, but it really depends on how hard your incoming water is and what your softener settings are. In any case, who wants to worry about extra sodium in their drinking water? At the very least, people with health issues should consult with their doctor before drinking softened water.

As for the general public, there’s conflicting information about the impact of drinking hard vs softened water. The preponderance of evidence seems to suggest that the amount of sodium added by conventional water softeners is so small that it’s not a significant health risk. Still, it’s probably best to avoid drinking water containing extra sodium if you can.

Softening with potassium pellets is one alternative. Instead of adding sodium to your home’s water, it adds a small amount of potassium – which is actually good for people, pets, and plants.

Sodium and Your Waste Water

While water softened with sodium chloride may or may not be detrimental to your health, it’s definitely bad for the environment. Every so often, conventional salt based water softeners have to regenerate the resin beads that take out hard water minerals. When this happens, a large amount of salty brine water is flushed down the drain. Because high levels of sodium are not conducive to plant growth, this waste water is not as suitable to recycle for other uses such as irrigation.

When you use potassium pellets, your water softener produces waste water with a lot of potassium in it rather than sodium. As potassium is actually a key plant nutrient, this water is better for the environment. According to the National Small Flows Clearinghouse, one Canadian community that recycled water for golf course irrigation was able to improve results by switching their water softening from sodium to potassium.

Potassium Chloride for Water Softeners – Worth the Bother?

Dealing with water softener salt is one of worst things about owning a water softener, and using potassium adds extra inconvenience. However, if you can manage the additional hassle and cost, it presents some compelling reasons to choose it over sodium. If you have trouble finding potassium pellets at your regular store, check online or with a local water softener company that may carry more options.