In water softeners, sodium chloride is the most-used salt form. It is the cheapest and has been used effectively for many years. However, it is not recommended for anyone with heart disease. This is because it introduces too much sodium to your body.
There is an alternative called potassium chloride. It is more expensive but it lasts longer because you don't have to use as much. When you make the switch, you will have to adjust your water softener for potassium chloride. You may be on the do this yourself using your manual or you may have to call a plumber to make those adjustments.
It surprised me when, following my heart events, I needed to make this change and yet I couldn't really find anything in the medical literature to recommend it. It was another case of having to be your own advocate.
Sodium chloride is a naturally-occurring mineral found in the earth and comes from underground salt mines or solar evaporation ponds. It's the most commonly used salt in water softener brine tanks. When the brine solution containing sodium chloride washes over the resin, the hard mineral ions in the water are replaced with sodium. Sodium chloride brands are commonly available in a variety of forms including blocks, crystals, pellets and cubes. Beside the fact that it's widely available, sodium chloride often is the preferred softener salt because of the comparatively lower price.
Potassium chloride also is a naturally-occurring mineral and is used primarily in agriculture. It works in softeners the same way sodium chloride does but replaces the hard water minerals with potassium instead of sodium. Potassium chloride is an essential nutrient for human health and plays an important role in the functioning of organs, nerves and muscles. It can be found in a wide variety of foods such as dairy products, meat, fruits and vegetables. In addition, potassium chloride is important to the healthy growth of plant life. Because extracting potassium chloride from the earth is more costly than mining sodium chloride, potassium chloride is more expensive.
If you are on a sodium-restricted diets (and all people with heart disease are) potassium chloride should be your choice. Potassium chloride also may be the choice for those who are health conscious or concerned about the environment.
Salt substitutes use potassium chloride. People with kidney disorders should avoid using salt substitutes because a dangerous build-up of potassium in your blood can be harmful to your health.
There are benefits to using potassium chloride:
It is more environmentally friendly.
It provides a fuller soap lather and cleaner, brighter, fluffier laundry.
The backwash can be captured and used to water lawns and gardens. because potassium is a nutrient.
It does not contain sodium.
One thought is that residual amounts of either one will be left in the water after the exchange process.
There have also been studies that show we could use more potassium in our diets, helping to lower the risk of stroke and high blood pressure.