What is dishwasher salt? How much is needed

Dishwasher salt is used to regenerate the water softener circuit of a dishwasher. This removes stains and keeps your dishes clean if you have a lot of chalk in the water. Chalk can lead to white rings on your dishes. This water-softener removes calcium, magnesium, fluorine, and other chemical ions from the water making it soft water. Since dishwasher salt contains crystalline sodium chloride (chemical symbol NaCl), the granules are bigger than table salt. For this reason, you can’t use table salt in your dishwasher.

It is also known as water-softener salt. Water-softener salt is used to regenerate the resin in the built-in ion-exchange system in dishwashers. The grains are kept coarse so that it does not clog the pipes and drainage system inside the dishwasher. If you already have a water softener, there is less need for salt in the dishwasher as the chalk should have been removed from the water already.

However, dishwasher salts are not edible. They should not be used for preparing food items as they might contain toxic chemicals. At the same time, common salt should not be added to the dishwasher unit. Only dishwasher salts which are manufactured for water-softening purposes should be used in dishwashers.

How does dishwasher salt work?

Contrary to popular belief, dishwasher salt does not clean or fight hard water stains. It resets the dishwasher unit’s built-in water softener. The water softener units are filled with resins balls which absorb magnesium and calcium ions as we mentioned earlier. These two minerals normally leave hard water stains which we see on our utensils on a regular basis. Older dishwashers often don’t have a water softener and for this reason you can’t add salt to them.

Since the small resin balls have a negative atomic charge and the dishwasher salt has a positive atomic charge, it helps the resins balls in attracting the sodium ions. This process if you remember your middle school chemistry lessons is known as ion exchange.

How much salt is needed in a dishwasher?

Every product which is manufactured on the face of earth comes along with a user manual or ‘’Directions to use guidelines’’ printed on the packaging. The dishwasher salt which you will be buying will have the quantity mentioned in the guidelines. Most of them will come along with a measuring scoop and a funnel to fill in the dishwasher salt compartment. Most modern dishwashers need the entire salt compartment to be filled with dishwasher salt. Refilling needs to be done when it gets empty. The indicator LED will glow up when that happens.

If you live in a hard water area, you will need to refill the compartment more frequently as the consumption will be more. You can save some hard-earned money if you are lucky to live in a soft water area. Along with other benefits of using soft water, your dishwasher salt consumption by your dishwasher will be less for the same load of utensils.

If you follow the guidelines mentioned on the packaging, you will know how much dishwasher salt is needed for one load of utensils. Dishwasher salts are not only used for household dishwashers, they are also used in industrial dishwashers.

You should put the dishwasher salt only in the dedicated salt compartment. There will be a separate compartment for the dishwasher detergent, and it should be used for that purpose. The third unit will be there to put rinse aids and mixing up the order will harm your dishwasher. Since it is a machine and is designed to function in a certain fashion, it needs the elements at the right place.

Is it mandatory to use dishwasher salt?

Photo by Mohammad Esmaili on Unsplash

Water softener salt prevents limescale from forming in your dishwasher’s filter. If your dishes are not coming out squeaky clean, there is a high possibility that your dishwasher is running low on dishwasher salt.

If you do not use dishwasher salt, your dishwasher might break down faster as hard water will disrupt the smooth functioning of the machine. Hence, it is advisable to use dishwasher salt in the right quantity as mentioned by the manufacturer.

Do I need dishwasher salt in the soft water area?

You might be wondering if you need to use dishwasher salt if you live in a soft water area. The dishwasher manufacturers recommend that users use dishwasher salt irrespective of the area they live in.

Even if the tap water is soft, use the dishwasher salt as prescribed. The only difference is that your dishwasher will need less quantity of dishwasher salt if the water is soft. Hence, you won’t have to replenish your dishwasher salt that frequently compared to the people living in hard water areas.

Dishwasher salt is inexpensive and easy to add. For this reason, it is a good idea to add some to your dishwasher even if you live in an area with soft water or if you have a water softener.

In most cases, dishwasher salt is sold as crystals. This makes it easier to dose them so you don’t end up with a messy dishwasher.

What are rinse aids?

Rinse aids are used in dishwashers to remove all the dishwasher soap particles and make the utensils sparkling clean. It will help you to get rid of streaks and watermarks on the utensils. The governments in the US and other developed nations issued a directive to the manufacturers of dishwasher soaps in 2017. The manufacturers were advised to reduce the amount of phosphates they were using in the cleaning agents.

Since phosphates are harmful to the environment and are not bio-degradable, it was necessary for the governments to take this step. There is a rinse aid compartment next to the detergent compartment in a dishwasher and you will have to fill it in with the rinse aid solution. Since the phosphates were reduced in the dishwasher soaps, the rinsing was not happening properly and there used to be soap left on the plates and pots. Hence, the manufacturers came up with rinse aids to reduce the manual labor of the dishwasher users.

Usage of tablets

As the dishwasher technology advanced, there were advancements in the field of dishwasher detergents too. Manufacturers came up with all-in-one tablets. They will do cleaning and rinsing with the aid of one tablet. However, it is advisable to use a good quality dishwasher salt along with it. Your dishwasher might need less quantity of water-softener salt if you live in a soft water area, but most of the tablets only aid the process of cleaning. It does not include the dishwasher salt in its composition.

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Now you have a good amount of knowledge about dishwasher salts, rinse aids, and dishwasher detergents. Do not overuse them thinking that it will clean the utensils better if you do that. Always read the instructions properly on the label of any product, and follow it. The manufacturer always would have tested the product multiple times with various quantities to reach the optimum results. Following their instructions is the best policy.