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The Hard Truth About Potassium Chloride Softeners


In the world of water softeners, terminology can often be used to mystify or conflate the truth. After all, most consumers are simply concerned with eliminating the scale buildup that results from hard water: why get bogged down in scientific details?

However, doing your homework and researching the meaning behind the latest branding of water softeners and conditioners will help you reduce scale buildup while cutting down on waste and cost.

Truth About Potassium Chloride Softeners

Today, let’s look at the claim that potassium chloride water softeners are “salt-free.” When you think of salt-free water softeners you likely think of the attributes of Pelican Water’s salt-free water conditioners. Our Natursoft® conditioners:

  • Generate zero wastewater
  • Do not introduce salt brine back into the water supply
  • Do not use electricity
  • Do not utilize ion exchange
  • Do not require bags of salt or similar chemicals to function normally

Sadly, none of this is true for potassium chloride-based water softeners. How can this be? The difference between sodium chloride and potassium chloride water softeners begins and ends with what minerals are being reintroduced into your water. In both potassium chloride and sodium chloride water softener systems ion exchange occurs, and the minerals remove magnesium and calcium by swapping places. The only difference is that you’ll be drinking potassium with a potassium chloride softener, and you’ll be drinking sodium with a sodium chloride softener.

Now, the advantages of a potassium chloride system are obvious when compared to a sodium chloride system: by choosing a different mineral you avoid ingesting sodium-heavy water on a regular basis, which is important for many consumers. However, you pay for the benefits monetarily: one bag of potassium chloride for your softener costs approximately five times as much as a similarly-sized bag of sodium chloride costs. Furthermore, when using a potassium chloride system you have to buy three times more potassium to regenerate than you do with a sodium chloride system. When you combine the extra amounts with the inflated price per bag potassium based systems are incredibly expensive to operate.

Perhaps most importantly, potassium chloride softeners function in the same manner as sodium chloride softeners, and do not function in the same environmentally friendly manner that Pelican Water salt-free softeners function. Potassium chloride softeners:

  • Waste a great deal of water
  • Generate brine that damages the water supply
  • Do not remove chlorine
  • Require an additional filter system to remove contaminants from your drinking water

Potassium chloride softeners are labeled as “salt-free” or “sodium free” because they are not introducing sodium into your water. However, they are in fact introducing a ‘salt’ in the form of potassium and chloride into your water (versus sodium and chloride). The harmful effect on the environment caused by chloride discharge remains the same if you use Potassium as it does when using Sodium. They both still exhibit all of the negative attributes associated with salt-based water softeners.

With a Pelican Water Natursoft® salt-free water softener you don’t have to worry about any minerals being reintroduced into your drinking water. The beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium are left in your water, but the harmful and unwanted scale buildup is reduced by 99.6%. With a Natursoft® product you don’t have to worry about brine discharge, wasted water, money spent on electricity, or costly refills of potassium chloride.

Potassium chloride water softeners are ultimately a more expensive but healthier alternative to sodium chloride-based water softeners. However, when compared with Pelican Water Natursoft® salt-free water softeners, the choice is obvious. For a salt-free system that forgoes ion exchange altogether while generating no waste in the process, go with Pelican Water.

Pelican Combo System Salt-Free Water Softener Whole-House Water Filter