What happens If I Stop Putting Salt in a Water Softener?

Why the taste of water is different from what it was in the early days of water softener regeneration?

Why the soap is not lathering up when I was taking shower?

Why my hair looks dull, and my skin dry? Did you forget to top up your water softener salt tank?

I think you are…

When a water softener runs out of salt that means it would not be functioning the way it should. In other words, you run out of soft water.

Most of us think that water softeners are low-key appliances, just install them, and put the salt in the first time, and it will be softening water for years.

No, it is not like that, water softeners require salt in their brine tank to function properly.

The salt in the brine tank mixes with the water to make a brine solution. This brine solution or sodium ions are used to captures minerals dissolved in the hard water.

So, when there is no salt available in the softener, how the dissolved minerals will be removed from the hard water?

Not just that you will get hard water if the softener runs out of salt, but in the long run it damages the functionality or the parts of the water softener.

What happens If I Stop Putting Salt in a Water Softener?

What happens if your softener runs out of salt?

To this point, you must have learned that there will be damaged if you run out of salt. The damages could be immediate and in longer runs.

Let’s learn the immediate damages, so that you never forget to top up the brine tank with the salt.

Immediate Damages

1. Limescale Stains

Limescale build-up in your faucets, pipes, and other appliances is immediate damage. The chalky substance will soon develop on the showerheads.

Well, though you can remove that chalky substance, and rinse it off still these stains are pretty hard, and if stay there for a long time can damage the material.

2. Iron stains:

Iron stains are one of the instant and immediate impacts of hard water on the substance it settles down.

The stains can be yellow, orange, and brown, and they show around your kitchen, sink, shower, on the doors, at any place where the hard water settles down.

3. Brittle, Dry, stringy hair:

If you take a shower of hard water, your hair will start to bristle and feel stiff.

The minerals in the water don’t go right with your hair, and they will have a hard impact on you.

4. Dry, itchy skin:

If you take a shower of hard water, you will soon start to realize that your skin is getting itchy, red, and irritated.

The minerals are hard to settle down on your skin and make your skin dry, dull, and itchy.

5. Permanente itching on glassware:

More than skin damage or stringy hair, for households the biggest negative impact of hard water would be permanent etching on glassware.

If the water softener runs out of salt, and if you are getting hard water, that hard water would not go well with the glassware.

It will make limescale or chalky streaks on everything it comes in contact with.

A white film will cover your glassware, you can clean it off initially, but if it happens more often, it will become an inevitable part of your glassware. F

orks and knives will feel like they have never gone through the dishwasher, the glassware will look frosted over with the white film.

These were some instant and immediate negative impacts in case your water softener runs out of salt.

So, make it a habit, and don’t let the salt run out. The better would be, to buy some extra salt bags and put them near to your utility room.

So that if any of the family members find it out, could top up the brine tank with the salt easily.

The permanent damages are hard to let go of, and they will come to you if you let the softener run out of salt for a longer period of time.

Well, you can easily notice that, unless the hardness of the water in your area Is negligible.

Permanent damages 

1. Clogging:

You have expensive showerheads, faucets installed in your home, kitchen, and bathroom. If you let hard water flow through them, don’t worry, they will be ruined very soon.

The hard minerals will gradually build up in the openings of your showerheads, causing reduced water pressure and spraying in all directions.

Especially if the iron level in your area is high, then these kinds of damages are around your corner, just wait for them, within a few days, they will come to you.

2. Rotting of expensive home appliances

Home appliances kind of home heaters and many others will be ruined within a few days.

Hard water minerals will be built up inside of them, and the heating system will cause poor water pressure in your showers faucet.

3. Damage to the softener:

A good quality, modern features equipped water softener can easily cost you around $2000, just because you forgot to top up the brine tank with the salt, you can’t ruin your water softener.

But if you keep forgetting that, I am sure you will at least require serving or fixing of some parts such as the control valve.

The control valve is an important and very delicate part of the water softener. Iron and other minerals build up on the control valve and make it malfunction.

4. Damages resin beads:

Resin beads which are designed to capture minerals dissolved in the water will be overwhelmed with the minerals collecting upon them.

The hard water will keep flowing through them, making them lose their efficiency.

5. Poor water pressure:

Hard water makes your water system clogged, minerals and limescale build-up within them will reduce the water pressure.

6. Salt tank overflow:

The worst of them all though does not happen as common as others, but if you continue not adding salt in the brine for a long time, you will soon meet this problem too.

And if you have a non-electric water softener, I think it can happen even for the first time when you forget to top up the brine tank with the salt. As they rely on a single water shut-off valve.

7. Iron in your Water:

If you are using a water softener, and there is iron in your water, then the water softener must be taking it out along with other minerals for you.

The mechanism of getting the iron out of the dissolved water is the same as it is for Calcium and Magnesium unless it is too high to capture and control.

So, when your water softener runs out of salt, the resin beads will become completely coated from the iron, and the softener would no longer be able to capture the other minerals such as Calcium or magnesium from water.

Will it ruin water softener running without salt?

Well, if it is happening for the first time, or sometimes, it would not hurt your machine.

Running a water softener without salt is more like running a washing machine and not getting your clothes washed.

Well, your resources are being wasted, but you are not getting the results of it.

Running a softener without salt can surely take a toll on you. Your skin can be dry, itching, your clothes may look hard, and yellow, and your other appliances may get jammed, clogged.

And if it is happening again and again it can damage your water softener too. But, it would not be like burning the water softener, the highest damage of it can be overflowing the brine tank, or the brine tank will be full of hard water.

If the iron level in your water softener is higher than regular, then the damage can be immediate and long-lasting. So, in the case of iron, you should act immediately, and get your brine tank topped with salt right away.

Can You Add Table Salt if you don’t have softener salt?

No, you can’ do that. Some might go with the idea of using table salt if you don’t have water softener salt, but experts recommend otherwise.

Well, it might look the same, both are salt, both got the same chemical formula but it is the size that matters the most here.The table salt is made with much smaller crystals to easily get mixed in the food.

On contrary, the water softener salt is made with bigger crystals. Recall how sodium exchanges with the minerals in the resin beads tank.

If you use table salt which comes with smaller crystals, it would not work properly, adhere correctly to the resin beads.

And if the sodium ions are not getting properly adhered to the beads, the exchange would not happen. And the shiny tiny mixture will stay there.

I would like to stop you from using table salt for reasons. It would not go right with the resin beads and all will be accumulated in the rein bead tank which can lead to salt mushing. It can clog the intake valve at the bottom of the tank.

How often should you add the salt?

The quantity and frequency of the addition of the salt vary from softener to softener.

It also depends on the size of the softener, water hardness, water consumption, and many others.

If it is a new softener installed, it will require lesser salt intakes, and if the resin beads are working properly.

ou should read the user manual, and check the quantity of salt required for your home.

The general rule of thumb, I would like to explain, you should check the salt at least once a month.

Make it a habit, and place the extra salt bag in the utility room, so that if any of the family members find the salt runs out, he/she could top up the brine tank with salt.

What happens if I add too much salt?

Don’t add too much salt. There can be two negative impacts on your system for that, first, if it is more than the required quantity of salt in your water softener brine tank, it can build up solidification of regenerant. The second is there will be not enough space left for the water. 

You know that hard water mixes with the salt to make a brine solution which then flushes the resin beads tank to saturate the resin beads with the sodium ions.


If you don’t add the salt to the brine tank the whole process of softening would stop. It is more like, you run of the salt you run out of the soft water.

There will be damages of not adding the salt to your health, on your water system, and to the water softener itself.

The general rule of thumb is, you should add salt at least once a month. Make it a habit to check the brine tank, and see if it runs out of salt, if it is, then adds the salt right away.

Emily Davis

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