Water Softener Salt Vs. Sidewalk Salt

What's the difference? Can you use water softener salt on the sidewalk? And can you use sidewalk salt in a water softener? Let's find out.

Hand holding a small amount of salt on a snowy sidewalk
Do you have hard water or poor water quality? Find out with a free water test from your local Culligan water expert.
Every winter with heavy snow, we see questions about salt. It’s common knowledge that salt is a great solution for melting ice on sidewalks and roads. Naturally, you might wonder if water softener salt can be used on a sidewalk. And vice versa, whether sidewalk salt be used in a water softener.
Our answer to both of these questions is that we do not recommend it. The two products are not the same, so they don’t function in the same way.
Read on to learn more.

Salt 101

Culligan Man filling a water softener with salt

Softener Vs. Sidewalk Salt: What’s the Difference?

Water Softener Salt: Also known as solar salt, water softener salt is 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. Additionally, the refining process makes water softener salt more expensive than sidewalk salt. So using it on a sidewalk isn't practical, because it entails spending more money to get the same result.
Sidewalk Salt: Also known as rock salt, sidewalk salt is 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: It is okay to use water softener salt on the sidewalk if you are in a pinch. But there are good reasons to avoid doing so. However, you should never use sidewalk salt in your water softener. It may be cheaper than softener salt up front, but it will be more expensive to fix the problems it causes down the line.

Culligan Salt Delivery Service

Say goodbye to stressing about salt. Instead, get regular deliveries at a time that’s convenient for you. Your Culligan water expert will even remove and recycle the used salt bags.
With our salt delivery service, you can expect:
  • Great confidence: Your Culligan water expert will ensure your water softener salt is the proper grade and type for your system.
  • Peace of mind: Salt delivery requests can be automated when using select Culligan HE systems, which can alert your Culligan water expert when salt is needed.
  • More convenience: Some dealers also provide value-add services during salt delivery, including refilling your salt tank, inspecting your system and more.*
But if you prefer to take care of these logistics yourself, make sure to use quality solar salt.

Culligan water Softener Inspection

Not sure if your softener is working properly? The easiest way to keep soft water flowing is with yearly softener check-ups.
During an inspect-and-check, your local Culligan expert will provide the following services:
  • Check water hardness
  • Test softener operation (any brand, age or model)
  • Check salt level
  • Check timer levels
  • Adjust regeneration settings
  • Perform water analysis

Culligan water Softeners

Person inspecting freshly cleaned glassware from dishwasher
With a water softener from Culligan water, your whole home benefits. By reducing the hardness of your home's water, you can:
  • Use less soap when bathing, laundering and cleaning, since soft water increases soap lather.
  • Reduce sticky soap residue and film on skin, hair, clothes and dishes.
  • Significantly decrease scale buildup in plumbing and appliances, ensuring efficient operation and increasing their lifespans.
  • Lower energy consumption and costs by improving water flow in your pipes and reducing scale buildup in water heaters.
  • Eliminate mineral-derived odors in your home.
  • Make household cleaning and maintenance easier and more cost-effective.
Best of all, Culligan water systems are backed by industry-leading warranties and are built to last with tanks that resist UV rays, rust and corrosion. That’s water you can feel confident about.
Below is one of our most popular water softeners.

Featured Product: Aquasential™ Smart High Efficiency (HE) Water Softener

Aquasential™ Smart High Efficiency (HE) Water Softener
The world’s most efficient water softener*, the Aquasential™ Smart HE Water Softener, reduces hard water minerals to benefit both you and your home. Water-using appliances last longer, dishes get cleaner and your clothes, hair and skin become softer, too. Smart technology provides salt refill alerts and insights on product usage and performance through the Culligan Connect™ App.

Chat With Us

At Culligan water, we have more than 85 years of expertise in water problems and solutions, serving 50 million customers per year. Our innovative systems are built to last. So you can feel confident that you can enjoy your soft water for many years to come.
Didn’t find the information you were looking for? Don’t fret. The experts at Culligan water are available to answer every question you have about salt and water softeners.
For more information about water softening or Culligan water products, contact your local Culligan water expert or schedule a free water test today!
*Because Culligan dealers are independently operated, programs and participation may vary.