Potassium Vs Sodium Water Softener – Which Does a Better Job?

Updated: June 15, 2021 by Zac Harding

Potassium vs sodium water softener, which one is better?

Terminologies can be quite confusing when you are in the market for a new salt-based water softener. Especially if your only concern is to get rid of water hardness, hard minerals, and scale buildup. In essence, both potassium and sodium type softeners are expected to do the same job. The major difference is what they leave behind in the regenerated water.

In this battle of effectiveness and health-related concerns, we seek to explore the benefits and drawbacks of each product. Then decide on the better option based on the facts.

Main Differences Between Potassium Vs Sodium Water Softeners

The main differences between potassium vs sodium water softeners are:

  • A potassium water softener needs you to buy three times more bags of potassium chloride, whereas a sodium water softener will do a good job with one bag of sodium chloride.
  • A potassium water softener replaces hard minerals with potassium during ion exchange, whereas a sodium water softener replaces hard minerals with sodium during ion exchange.
  • A potassium water softener reduces sodium levels in regenerated water making it a better choice for people on a low-sodium diet, whereas a sodium water softener slightly increases sodium levels.
  • Potassium chloride is considered to be environmentally friendly, especially to plants, whereas sodium chloride is not.

Potassium vs Sodium: Water Softeners You can Use With Either Resin

1. Aquasure AS-HS32D Harmony Series Water Softener – Best Overall

Aquasure AS-HS32D Harmony Series Water Softener

This premium quality water softener from Aquasure is engineered to provide spot-free, scale-free, soft water by using either sodium crystals or potassium pellets.

Key Features

  • Aquatrol electronic control head
  • Resin tank with a distributor tube
  • Prefilled premium-grade resin
  • 14-foot drain line
  • 5-foot brine line

This system is a good option for those who like switching between sodium chloride and potassium chloride. When used with potassium, the water softener delivers superior water taste and effectively removes hard minerals.

This water softener requires you to set the time of the day, backwash duration, recharge time, brine draw duration, capacity, brine fill duration, rapid rinse duration, type of recharge schedule, and the preferred unit (liters or gallons). All these details help you to optimize your potassium usage. You also need a separate brine line to your brine tank.

But here is the thing, the reducer on the drain hose may break away when pressure builds up.

Pros

  • The digital meter is easy to program and read
  • Functions effectively with potassium chloride
  • Has pre-loaded premium quality resin
  • Provides easy and quick connections
  • Has one button manual regeneration

Cons

  • The reducer on the drain hose may break
  • The system is limited to a specific household size

Verdict

Protect your health, pipes, and plumbing fixtures from limescale with this high-performing water softener from Aquasure.

Overall Rating: 4.6

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2. Fleck 5600 SXT Whole House Water Softener

Fleck 5600 SXT Whole House Water Softener

Do you have sodium-related health concerns? You can keep your home water sodium-free by using this potassium-compatible water softener.

Key Features

  • Works well with potassium resin
  • 48,000-grain capacity
  • Metered on-demand design
  • Touchpad controls
  • Brine tank with float

This is a single tank system that needs a separate brine container, which is great because it is used to periodically flush out the main filter.

It comes with a digitally operated valve that does a good job of measuring your usage and regenerates as needed. This helps to save on salt and water consumption. The unit works very effectively with potassium chloride pellets to remove hard water minerals as well as prevent mineral buildup in plumbing fixtures.

But it is possible to receive a system with injectors that get easily clogged.

Pros

  • The metered on-demand system is highly versatile
  • The float prevents overflow when the valve malfunctions
  • The water softener regenerates automatically when needed
  • Potassium chloride removes sodium from water
  • The touchpad allows for quick and simple programming

Cons

  • Some models may come with injectors that get easily clogged
  • Supply lines are not included in the package

Verdict

This water softener is an incredible addition to your home, especially when you are using potassium chloride to remove hardness.

Overall Rating: 4.5

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3. Tier1 Whole House Essential Series Water Softener

Tier1 Whole House Essential Series Water Softener

Are you tired of the hardness that comes with your well or city water? Make your water soft with this amazing water softener from Tier1.

Key Features

  • Digital meter control valve
  • 1.5 cubic feet of cation resin
  • A flow rate of 11.2 GPM
  • Fully adjustable cycle times
  • Time-saving connections

This high-quality system uses a high-performing digital meter control technology to remove hard water hardness and contaminants up to 48,000 grains.

The water softener is made up of mechanical components, drain line, brine tubing, water line connections, control valve, cation resin, and the brine tank. The brine tank is compatible with both sodium and potassium. You can use potassium chloride instead of common salt to renew the softening resin. The potassium ions replace the magnesium and calcium during ion exchange.

But here is the thing, this system does not have an indicator that can notify you about low salt.

Pros

  • The system prevents limescale build-up
  • Helps extend the durability of plumbing fixtures
  • Delivers soft water that uses less soap
  • Ensures you have crystal clear glassware and dishes
  • The system is easy to install

Cons

  • The water softener doesn’t have a low-salt indicator
  • The resin may need replacement

Verdict

If you want water softening that won’t compromise your drinking water, you can always switch to potassium pellets with this great water softener from Tier1.

Overall Rating: 4.4

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4. Whirlpool WHES30E Water Softener

Whirlpool WHES30E Water Softener

If you have a household of one to four people, then you will benefit a lot from this great water softener that works with either sodium or potassium chloride.

Key Features

  • Works well with sodium and potassium
  • 30,000-grain capacity
  • Demand initiated regeneration
  • 8 parts per million iron removal
  • Reduces iron, magnesium, and calcium

This unit is a good solution for any household with hard water problems. It uses sodium chloride to provide all the benefits of soft water, including reduced iron, magnesium, and calcium. It also works with potassium to deliver septic-friendly water.

The system is patented with innovative technology that monitors your water usage pattern and uses only the minimum amount of salt. That is going to save your wallet and your back will appreciate the reduced labor. It is also an affordable choice for limited budgets.

What I don’t like about this system, however, is the possibility of getting a model with missing parts.

Pros

  • It is an affordable choice for small households
  • It reduces iron, calcium, and magnesium
  • Monitors water usage pattern to reduce salt consumption
  • Reduces potential scale and buildup problems
  • The system is easy to clean

Cons

  • Some units may come with missing parts
  • It’s possible to receive a unit with poor packaging

Verdict

This is an outstanding sodium water softener and well worth the price. But make sure the model doesn’t come with missing parts.

Overall Rating: 4.6

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5. Water2Buy W2B800 Meter Water Softener

Water2Buy W2B800 Meter Water Softener

Do you want to save money on salt? Then you should consider buying this metered water softener from Water2Buy.

Key Features

  • Works with sodium and potassium
  • Digital meter control
  • Pre-fitted bypass
  • One to ten people household
  • Corrosion-resistant tank

This innovatively designed sodium water softener delivers scale-free water for a household of one to ten people. It is capable of regenerating about one thousand and sixty gallons every day. The system is engineered for both well and city/municipal water.

The system comes equipped with a digital meter control, which is great because it monitors water usage to reduce water and salt consumption. You’ve also got a pre-fitted bypass valve that does a good job of maintaining optimal water pressure.

What I don’t like about this water softener is the poorly written instructions manual.

Pros

  • Uses less salt for effective regeneration
  • Digital meter control reduces salt usage
  • Has automatic self-cleaning and manual override
  • High-strength corrosion-resistant tank
  • It is a whole house water softening system

Cons

  • It is possible to receive a poorly written instructions manual
  • The customer support isn’t the most reliable

Verdict

This whole house water softener works wonders with sodium or potassium to reduce unwanted minerals and remove water hardness.

Overall Rating: 4.4

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Potassium Vs Sodium Water Softener: How Do You Know Which One to Get?

The following are the most important factors to take into consideration during your search.

Salt and Potassium Resin

Your choice of salt or potassium resin will affect how effectively your water softener regenerates, how often you will clean the brine tank, and how frequently you will need to clean the injectors. The following are the most popular salt and potassium resins you can consider.

Rock Salt

This is salt that has been processed the least compared to other types. Although it is the cheapest one, it is not usually a good choice. This is so because it has a lot of impurities.

Evaporated Salt

This salt is about 99.9 percent pure sodium chloride and normally has no soluble content. Apart from being fast-dissolving, the crystal sizes are uniform in size. The only problem with evaporated salt resin is that it clogs regularly.

Rust Remover Salt

This is a pellet-type water softener salt that has a cleaner built into it to help remove iron from your household water.

System Saver Salt

This is the overall best salt resin because it is made up of pellets instead of crystals. This means the resin doesn’t clog regularly and is free of impurities.

Potassium Chloride

This is a 99 percent sodium-free resin for your salt-based water softener. It doesn’t produce any sodium residual after going through the regeneration process and it is also septic-friendly. The problem with potassium resin is that it is four times the cost of any other salt resin.

The Correct Water Softener Size

Whether you are planning to buy a potassium or sodium water softener, the size of the unit matters a lot. There are a few important things to consider.

Number of People and Bathrooms 

How many people will the unit be serving in your home? It can be one person, two people, three people, four people, five people, six people, and so on. What’s the number of bathrooms in your household? It can be one, two, three, and more.

Water Hardness

Do you know the hardness of water that runs in your pipes? How long does it take for water stains to reappear on your shower doors and faucets? If it takes one to three days, then the hardness is approximately 20 GPG. If it takes four to seven days, the hardness is about 11 GPG. If water stains take seven days or more to reappear, then the hardness is estimated at approximately 4 GPG.

City or Well Water

The main difference between these two is that well water has iron and city water does not. So, if you are dealing with well water, you will have to include iron levels in your calculations.

If your household has four people, each person uses seventy-five gallons of water, the water hardness is about 20 GPG, and you are dealing with city water, then your water hardness will be (4 people*75 gallons*(20 GPG + 0)). The total grains per day that must be removed will be 6000. To get the most effective regeneration, you will need a water softener with a capacity of 48,000 grains.

Available Space

The actual space for the water softening system is also an important consideration. Are you traveling frequently in an RV or boat? Perhaps, you only have minimal space to spare in your tiny house. No need to worry as there are options for small systems in the market.

Compatibility

Not all types of salt (whether potassium chloride or sodium chloride) are compatible with all water softeners. Some specific designs work best with potassium, but most salt-based water softeners are engineered to work with sodium. You can always confirm with the manufacturer through customer support.

Final Thoughts

Potassium water softeners replace hard minerals with potassium, while sodium water softeners replace hard minerals with sodium. Systems that use potassium are believed to have reduced levels of sodium and are said to be ideal for people on a low-sodium diet. But it is expensive to work with potassium chloride compared to sodium chloride.

If you are looking for a resin that is cheaper to replace, then go for salt. But if you want a resin that will not introduce sodium into your water and is septic-friendly, then potassium is best for you.

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