Potassium water softener salt works exactly like the standard sodium variety. If you already have a newer water softener, it can probably use potassium just as easily as sodium (check your manual to find out for sure). And if you’re in the market for a new water softener, you should have no problem finding models that include the option to use both types of salt.
So why use potassium?
Well, for one thing, it’s better for the environment. Standard water softener salt produces waste water contaminated with chlorine. This is why many cities have banned the installation of conventional water softening systems, as treating this water puts an additional burden on waste water treatment centers. The EPA says that even at low levels, chloride can be harmful to plants and wildlife. Using potassium in your water softener is much more eco-friendly.
Another selling point for many people is the health benefits of potassium over sodium. A lot of people who are on low sodium diets or are just concerned about the health of their families don’t like the idea of having salty tap water. Now, the amount of sodium or potassium added by water softeners is so minuscule that it’s probably not going to have a big impact one way or another. Still, for people who really want to maximize their nutrition, adding potassium to their water instead of sodium is a clear winner.
Unfortunately, using potassium chloride doesn’t alleviate the inconvenience of dealing with water softener salt (for that, you need a salt free water softener). In fact, it probably makes it even less convenient. Not only do you still have to buy hefty bags of salt, but you may have a harder time finding them. Potassium pellets aren’t sold in as many places as sodium, and it’s typically a lot more expensive. Of course, if you have a service that delivers your salt for you, switching to potassium could be a simple matter of letting your delivery person know what you want.
So, in a nutshell, the benefits of using potassium chloride are pretty incremental, and many homeowners decide that they just aren’t worth the extra cost. But for a lot of other people, these “minor” benefits are important enough to go the extra mile (sometimes literally) for potassium.