Softener Salt vs. Sidewalk Salt

Hard water can make life hard, too. But what is hard water, and what can you do about it?

What's the difference? Can you use softener salt on the sidewalk? And can you use sidewalk salt in a softener? Let's find out.
softener salt vs sidewalk salt
Every winter, there's bound to be a lot of questions about salt. Especially when local supplies of sidewalk salt start running low. The question: can softener salt be used on a sidewalk? And while we're at it, can sidewalk salt be used in place of softener salt?

Softener Salt

Softener salt is also known as solar salt. It's a high-grade salt created specifically for water softening equipment. Its 99% purity prevents debris from contaminating the water softener's brine tank. The larger salt crystals also dissolve more slowly than sidewalk salt.
The refining process makes softener salt more expensive than sidewalk salt. So using it on a sidewalk isn't practical. You're spending more money to get the same result.

Sidewalk Salt

Sidewalk salt is also known as rock salt. It's unprocessed sodium chloride taken directly from the ground. And it's sold with its impurities intact. On average, sidewalk salt has 95% purity. The extra 5% is made of dirt, clay, shale, and other minerals.
Softener salt doesn't melt ice any faster than sidewalk salt. But using sidewalk salt in a water softener will cause big problems. The insoluble minerals in sidewalk salt quickly clog up resin beads and reservoirs. So your water softener will require more frequent maintenance and cleaning.

The Bottom Line

Yes, you can use softener salt on your sidewalk. But there are good reasons to avoid doing so, outside of the occasional pinch.
No, you shouldn't use sidewalk salt in your softener. It's cheaper than softener salt, but you'll be paying more money to fix the problems it causes. Your local Culligan Water expert offers salt delivery and softener filling. So there's no reason to stress about salt.