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Why Do You Put Salt In A Dishwasher?
The salt ensures that dishes are spotless after they have been cleaned. But what this compound does is soften the water to prevent the formation of spots that show up on the dishes after they have been washed.
Hard water is usually full of calcium and magnesium, and the presence of these elements cause the dishes to have spots that may make you feel like you did not do a good enough cleaning job or like you did not use clean water.
These elements react with dish-washing detergent, resulting in the formation of soap clumps. These then leave behind a residue that causes the dishes to look less clean even after they have been thoroughly cleaned.
The dishwasher salt forms bonds with the calcium and magnesium, eliminating them from the water and make it “soft.” For this reason, the dishes end up being cleaner. The dishwasher benefits from this intervention as well, as it ends up providing a longer life of service. That is because the dishwasher salt gets rid of limescale that builds up in the dishwasher.
This substance is present when hard water is used in the dish washing machine without the use of dishwasher salt. Its build up can cause parts of the dishwasher to malfunction. The limescale is also the reason why dishes end up with spots after being cleaned with hard water. However, the spots and streaks the substance causes is most apparent on glassware.
So, dishwasher salt does not clean the stains that would otherwise form without it as some people believe. Its role is to get rid of the compounds that result in the formation of the water stains in the first place. These compounds are calcium and magnesium ions.
Dishwasher salt also works by restoring the capacity for resin balls to absorb calcium and magnesium ions from the water through a process known as ion exchange. In this case, dishwashers that feature resin balls, whose role is to absorb calcium and magnesium ions from the water, are mixed with the dishwasher salt.
Dishwasher Salt Vs Regular Table Salt
Dishwasher salt is pure sodium chloride, and it, therefore, has a positive atomic charge. Because the resin balls have a negative atomic charge, they attract the positively charged sodium ions, making the resin balls more effective at getting rid of the calcium and magnesium ions from the hard water in a process known as ion exchange.
The salt is only used in instances where the dishwashers have a dedicated salt compartment. When this feature is present, you can be sure that the appliance has an inbuilt water softening system. The compartment should be filled with salt and then closed shut, and from there, it is usually ready to use. You should avoid pouring detergent into the salt compartment. This can result in permanent damage to the water softening system.
Although dishwasher salt is sodium chloride. Table salt, which is primarily sodium chloride, should not be used as a substitute for dishwasher salt. The problem is not the chemical composition, but the fact that table salt is very fine. For this reason, it can block the dishwasher and cause it serious damage.
Dishwasher salt does not come into contact with the dishes. Instead, it flows separately through the softener before going away with the wastewater. Additionally, table salt usually contains additional compounds such as anticking agents and even magnesium salts.
And since the role of dishwasher salt is to get rid of magnesium as well as calcium ions from the waster, using table salt would defeat the purpose of using dishwasher salt to make water more appropriate for washing dishes.
How To Use Dishwasher Salt
- To ensure that the salt upholds its effectiveness, you should check its levels on a regular basis, such as once a month to make sure that the salt tank is always full. Fortunately, some machines have an indicator that shows when dishwasher salt levels are running low.
- Typically, when the light goes on, it means there is just enough salt for one last load of dishes. However, some machines do not have this indicator light. In such cases, the dishwashers can have floating indicator that often requires that you check on the dishwasher machine regularly to find out if more salt is necessary or not.
- Generally, the softener unit where the dishwasher salt goes is found at the bottom of the dishwasher. You need to unscrew the cap and pour in the salt and then close it. The best time to add more salt is when the dishwasher is empty.
- Dishwasher salt is necessary for areas where hard water is an issue. Also, although the compound is used primarily with hard water, it is also used with soft water to make rinsing easier. There are places where, even without the dishwasher salt, dishes can come out clean and spotless.
- But in other areas, the dishes can end up with streaks and grits or a cloudy appearance. Dishwasher salt gets rid of such issues. Areas mostly affected by hard water are the UK and a big part of Europe. In these places, dishwashers typically come with an inbuilt water softening unit that ensures that dishes do not end up looking spotted and filmy after they have been cleaned.
- Most people think that using dishwasher salt will leave the dishes with a salty taste. But that is not what happens. The salt does not get into the dishwasher, and it never comes into contact with the dishes as it remains in the dishwasher salt reservoir where it gets rid of the ions that cause hardness in the water. However, if you experience any saltiness in the dishes, it is usually because the salt did not all go into the reservoir when you were doing a refill. Loose salt on the surface of the dishwasher can often get mixed up with the water used to clean the dishes, giving them a salty taste.
- It can be used in table top dishwashers, slimline dishwashers, in addition to a full size dishwasher.
Conclusion To Why You Need Dishwasher Salt
If you live in an area where hard water is a problem, then you should always use dishwasher salt. The salt ensures that your dishes do not end up with spots or streaks after they are cleaned.
Additionally, by getting rid of the limescale, dishwasher salt prolongs the life of your dishwasher as it ensures that this compound does not build up in your dishwasher, which can shorten its useful life.
Founder of homeappliancegeek.com, avid cook, and lover of Asian food.
Signature dishes include Thai Red Curry, Chicken Saag, Bibimbap and Sushi.
Massive clean freak; a habit baked-in after spending 9 years in the catering industry.
The one appliance he couldn’t live without? Easily the dishwasher (total relationship saver!).