Six years ago, I stood over the dishwasher in our rental apartment wondering why there was a little red light next to the word ‘salt’ on my dishwasher. It seemed hilarious to me when I first encountered it. Of course, I sprinkled a bit of freshly ground sea salt into the dishwasher and started a cycle. That didn’t work. At all. Not one bit. See, the dishwasher takes special salt. It’s called… Dishwasher Salt.
It turns out the hard/soft water thing seriously effects dishwashers so it is vital to the cleanliness of the dishes that salt is added to a special compartment to soften the water and reduce hard water stains and residue on the glassware and dishes. Wikipedia explains in more detail:
Dishwasher salt is a particular grade of granulated, crystalline sodium chloride intended for use in dishwashers. Like water softener salt, dishwasher salt regenerates ion exchange resins, and removes the calcium and magnesium ions that characterize hard water. Dishwater salt granules are larger than those of table salt. The granule size ensures that the salt dissolves slowly, and that fine particles do not block the softener unit. Dishwasher salt is 95% sodium chloride; an anticaking agent (e.g. sodium ferrocyanide or potassium ferrocyanide) constitutes the remaining 5%.
Dishwasher salt goes in a compartment in the bottom of the dishwasher that looks a lot like this.
Though that one day, leaning over the dishwasher completely befuddled by the salt light shining red, I soon learned the importance of dishwasher salt and how regionally it is widely accepted and understood. So much so it was a joke in an episode of Black Books. When I saw that episode, I laughed out loud because I understood and it was clever. So I made a meme.
We season cast iron skillets in America, so why not season dishwashers too, right? Do you season your appliances where you live?