Yes, it is possible to switch from using sodium to using potassium in your water softener system. After a few minor tweaks to the recharge duration or length, potassium is pretty much a one-on-one replacement for sodium.

This is the case because potassium chloride, just like sodium chloride, is a salt. There can be some significant benefits to changing to potassium, however, these come at a cost.

Can I Switch To Potassium Chloride Instead Of Salt In A Water Softener?

Yes, you can use potassium instead of salt. As previously mentioned, potassium chloride is also a salt just like normal water softer salt which contains sodium chloride. It can therefore be used as a one on one replacement in your water softener system.

Claims about systems that are salt-free because they allow the use of potassium chloride are nonsense. First of all, because they also use salt, and secondly because they use the exact same ion exchange technology

However, there are some differences between the two salts, the main difference being the effectiveness of potassium chloride in softening your water.

Potassium is only about 80% as efficient as sodium, this means you will need to use around 25% more potassium than you would need when using sodium.

This means you will have to increase the number of backwashes that occur by reducing the cycle, for example from every five days to every four days.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Potassium Chloride Instead Of Sodium?

Although the water softening process remains the same when switching from sodium to potassium. The switch has several positive side effects on your health as well as that of the environment.

Health Impact Of Using Potassium In Your Water Softener

When using sodium in your water softener system the water softening process will add sodium to your water. This can in some cases have adverse effects on your health as higher sodium intakes have been related to diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and the occurrence of strokes.

Therefore it can be beneficial to reduce the amount of sodium in your water by replacing it with potassium. This effect is twofold, as besides reducing the sodium concentration, the intake of potassium is increased.

Potassium is an essential nutrient that the human body is incapable of producing by itself. It normally is sourced through our diet as it can be found in most vegetables and fruits, for example, a banana famously contains high amounts of potassium.

While excessive amounts of potassium intake can have negative effects on your health the World Health Organization saw no reason to believe adverse effects of the consumption of potassium chloride after it being added through the water softening process.

However, if you have any reason to believe you might be susceptible to higher levels of potassium be sure to consult a physician.

Using Potassium Is Better For The Environment

Besides being healthier for yourself, using potassium can also have positive effects on the environment.

Potassium Production Is Less Harmful To The Environment

Most sodium is produced by mining operations, like all other conventional mines this is a labor-intensive process that can have severe effects on the health of those who work there as well as on the local environment.

While no production process is perfect, producing potassium chloride has significantly less impact on the environment. Derek over at Veritasium made an amazing video about this process which you can see below!

Potassium Chloride In Your Water Softener Is Safe For Plants

A big problem with sodium chloride brine is where to dispose of it. If your local sewage system is not equipped to handle water softener backwash you will need to find other ways of disposing of it.

As backwash is mostly water most people opt for the choice of using it to water their lawn or other plants in their garden, however, as sodium is toxic to most plants, doing this can eventually kill them.

Potassium however is a great nutrient and it is even often used as a fertilizer on an industrial scale. Together with the calcium and magnesium ions that are extracted through the water softening process. The backwash from a system using potassium can be a great way to water your plants.

Downsides Of Using Potassium Chloride Instead Of Sodium

Although there are a lot of benefits these don't come cheap and thus there, unfortunately, are some major downsides as well.

The Cost Of Potassium Chloride In Your Water Softener System

First of there is the cost of the product, because of the different production processes potassium can generally run two to three times the expense compared to the same volume of sodium.

Morton Sodium Chloride Water Softener Pellets
Morton Potassium Chloride Water Softener Pellets

Add this to the fact that you need more of it and your quickly looking at an expense increase of up to fourfold.

Positive Impact On The Environment

While there are positive effects on the environment by using potassium chloride for your water softener, it isn't all rainbows and sunshine.

Increased Water Usage

Because the ion exchange process is less effective when using potassium instead of sodium the volume of water used for recharging the water softener resin increased.

Freshwater is a scarce resource and thus should be used with care.

Increased Brine Disposal

While the impact on the environment is more positive than when using sodium, but there is now more of it.

Depending on where you using it the positive effect can therefore be little.

Is It Worth Switching From Using Sodium To Potassium

If you have a specific reason for switching from sodium to potassium, because of your health, or perhaps because of how you need to dispose of your backwash, the option is there for the tacking, your water will be nice and soft either way.

However, for most users, no amount of benefits will weigh up against the staggering increase in costs, for those users switching from sodium to potassium simply is not worth it.

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