When your water is “hard”, it is high in dissolved minerals, especially magnesium and calcium. Water becomes “hard” as it moves about rock and soil, holding a very small trace of these minerals in their water solution. Hard water is not a health concern, but it can still be a problem that can hinder the performance of cleaning products such as dish detergent and soap.
As a primary answer to hard water, homeowners buy what are known as water softeners. Water softeners take calcium and magnesium away from water and replace then with sodium and salt, thanks to ion exchange. In order to get soft water time after time, you have to fill your water softener with quality resin.
Which is the best water softener resin? Well, we will be looking at six different resins in our review, all of which have various benefits as well as one or two detriments. Each of them, in essence, deliver unique results. So which is the resin that you need to buy? Find out by taking a look at our extensive review.
In a hurry? Here is our top pick Puralite C-100E
Top rated water softener resins comparison chart
ABCwaters - Water softening resin
8% Standard Cation
1 Cubic Foot
Purolite Water Softener Resin (Most Popular)
8% Standard Cation
1 Cubic Foot
liquagen resin - Best Water Softener Media
0.5 Cubic Foot
AquaTrol Ion Exchange Resin
1 Cubic Foot
A-Plus Waters - water softener resin beads
8% Standard Cation
0.5 Cubic Foot
Mobile-Soft-Water - Resin For Water Softener
8% Standard Cation
1 Cubic Foot
7 Best Water Softener Resin Reviews
1. ABCwaters - Water softening resin
This first high capacity water softener resin is by ABC waters. This is a bag that is one cubic foot in size. It should be noted that you will either get one large bag or multiple smaller bags that equal in one cubic foot. This resin is eight percent standard cation. All this resin total weighs about 50 pounds.
With a bag of water softener resin this big, you can properly fill a tank that is 9 by 48 inches in size. The screen must be in between 16 to 50 US.
These beads are spherical in appearance, and they are polystyrene cross-linked along with divinylbenzene. The color of these beads are jet black.
This resin can dissolve manganese, iron and suspended matter by filtering action outside the bed. This resin has been approved by the U. S. Food and Drugs Code of the Federal Regulations.
This resin is safe to use for either a water softener in the home or in a commercial building. No matter if you need soft water for your home or business, this resin can work with either.
One problem with this resin is that the measure is inaccurate. While it is advertised as one cubic foot, the bag says and actually measures 25 liters. With a cubic foot being 28.3 liters, this is slightly less than a cubic foot, which might not be enough for certain-sized water softeners.
2. Purolite Water Softener Resin
This next resin from DuraWater is the Purolite C-100E. There are many similarities between the Puralite resin and ABCwaters’ resin. Firstly, it is advertised as 1 whole cubic feet. It can fill a water softener that is nine by 48 inches in size. It is also eight percent standard cation resin.
This is a strong water softener resin that comes with a strong amount of sodium. This resin has also been approved by the U. S. Food and Drugs Code of the Federal Regulations.
For that matter, this resin specializes in making water better as well as food and beverages better as well. This resin has a high amount of physical and chemical stability.
The benefits of this resin include efficient regeneration, low extractables and a decent kinetic performance. You will get soft water for as long as the resin is still good, thanks to the easy shift of the beads. And speaking of the beads, they are a mixture of amber and clear beads that are spherical.
Surprisingly we have not found any flaws with this resin. It works fine, and there are no real setbacks to be found.
3. LiquaGen resin - Best Water Softener Media
LiquaGen’s water softener resin is a large 1.5 cubic foot in size. It is shipped in three bags of half a cubic foot each. This is a fine mesh resin. It is a white, powdery resin with grains that are a little bigger than sand grains.
Replacing hard ions like magnesium and calcium, in comes sodium ions as softer alternatives for your water.
This high quality water softener resin is made for the treatment of food, beverages and water, including water used as an ingredient for food.
Included with these three bags of resin is a funnel. You might have a special funnel for pouring in your new resin in, but in case you don’t, this bag of resin has you covered. Funnels make changing your resin easy and mess free.
LiquaGen’s resin has great physical and chemical stability, great selectivity and decent thermotolerant characteristics.
Instead of ten percent cross linked resin, this resin is actually eight percent. This might sound convincing that a ten percent resin could be priced as low as is, but it sounds like they bait and switch so that their resin would sell more. If you ask us, this is kind of shady for them to do.
4. AquaTrol Water Replacement Softener Resin
Aquarol’s resin also comes in a one-cubic-foot bag. It can work with any 32000-grain water softener. This is a fine mesh water softener resin that comes in small amber grains.
While most cation exchange is cross linked eight percent, this is ten percent cross linked resin. What this means is that this resin has a much longer life than others. Aquatrol’s water softener resin also has great chemical and physical stability.
This bag comes with a special flap that makes pouring it out into your water softener easy. It works in the way a flap for a box of baking soda works.
This resin has been approved by the U. S. Food and Drugs Code of the Federal Regulations, and is designed for food, water and beverages.
For a bag that is one cubic foot in size, this is a very affordable bag. With all that it offers, is there anything that you should be concerned with? The answer is no, surprisingly. It works great for the price that it goes for. We are wondering how the company is making a profit with this resin though for prices that are low.
5. A-Plus Waters - water softener resin beads
This is an eight percent standard cation water softener resin that comes in one half-cubic foot bag. It comes from A-Plus Waters LLC.
It can fill up to a 16,000-grain water softener, which is rather small; mostly ideal for apartments and individual applications.
This resin can either be used in residential or commercial settings. It has high-capacity gel polystyrene cation exchange packed with sodium ions.
This is a small bag of resin. It is only good for 16000-grain water softeners. Unless your softener is small and you do not use a lot of water, you should consider a bag of resin comes with more. You can also consider buying two bags of this resin, but it might be more affordable to buy one bigger bag.
6. Mobile-Soft-Water - Resin For Water Softener
This last water softener resin is from 602abcWater. It is one cubic foot in size and can supply a 32,000-grain water softener easily. This is a premium grade eight percent crosslink replacement resin.
This resin has been tested and certified under industry regulations. Not much else is known about this resin, other than it comes is glossy amber beads.
Does it work well in water softeners? You bet. From what we have experienced, the water gets soft quickly and stays soft. The calcium and magnesium in the water has been reduced significantly and replaced with sodium, so there is no need to worry if it doesn’t do its job.
There is just so much uncertainty with this water softening resin. So far, so good on our end. But it does not have a reputation for either being a good or bad resin, so you are not sure what you are getting what you pay for.
7. Oceanic Water Systems - Softening Resin
This is a high-capacity water softener resin from Oceanic Water Systems that is designed to handle even the harshest of water conditions. This one does exactly what the spec says it would do and can easily restore your water softener to the point where it will feel like brand new.
Every household should use a 10% cross-linked resin like this one. This softener resin can filter water that is chlorinated without the iron. If you are using a private well, chances are, the water will contain high iron content. In that case, this 1.0-CuFt softener resin will come in handy.
The strong acid cation will make the water consumable and can also make it suitable to use with bathroom and kitchen appliances. This resin also works with a wide variety of water softeners and functions like any other softener resins on the market while offering more perks than the competitors.
For ion-exchange, the resin or insoluble matrix acts as a medium that is in the form of small microbeads. This size of them is around 0.5 – 1 mm in diameter and are usually yellowish or white. The beads are fabricated from an organic polymer substrate, which is safe and typically porous.
The process is called ion-exchange because it traps the ions and, at the same time, aids in releasing other ions. As for the cation resin, it is of high-purity and designed for excellent chemical and physical stability.
Things to Consider When Buying A Resin for Water Softener
The first step before buying a product is to gather knowledge and information about said product. What you know about the different factors of the product directly contributes to the quality of your purchase.
So, let us take a look at the things that you should know before thinking about where to buy water softener resin and which one.
What Is A Water Softener?
It seems that even people who work with a water softener frequently do not understand what it is entirely. To put things simply; water softeners use resin to remove the hardness of water through ion exchange. It removes calcium, magnesium, or other hard minerals present in your water to make it softer.
This device is a must-have for any water treatment projects for a residential or commercial area. Since hard water is a devastating problem, it is essential to process or soften the water before using it for domestic use like laundry or dishwashing.
How Does Water Softener Resin Work?
In a water softener device, the resin works as the medium that allows the process to take place. Water in the system passes through a resin bed formed of small or large resin pallets. Hard minerals like calcium are removed from the water during this process and are, in turn, replaced with soft minerals like potassium or sodium. This process is known as ion exchange.
There are water softener systems that automatically add potassium or sodium to the resin bed to regenerate it. However, if you have a manual system, you can manually add it once your resin reaches maximum capacity.
To remove the hard materials. You need to flush the unit with a brine solution. This leaves potassium and sodium as residue on the bed that is, in turn, used to remove the hardness repeatedly.
Water Softener Resin Types
There are mainly two kinds of water softeners. They are
• Fine mesh resin
• Standard Ion exchange resin
Knowing about the two distinct types would help you understand which one is more suited to your needs.
Fine Mesh Resin
If you need to remove a high concentration of iron, this type of water softener is the perfect choice for you. It features small-sized beads that can remove up to 10 parts per million of dissolved iron.
To further improve the taste of drinking water, it is sometimes used in combination with activated carbon. However, since the unit comes in a small size, it is crucial to use an upper flow basket to prevent resin migration.
Standard Ion Exchange Resin
This is the most common water softener resin type available in the market. The amount of iron dissolved ranges from 3 to 5 parts per million. It also shines when it comes to water purification. In general, this type of system uses potassium chloride or sodium chloride for regeneration.
Crosslink is an essential factor to consider when it comes to water softening resin. It is used to measure the amount of DVB or divinylbenzene present in the resin bed. The higher the crosslink percentage, the higher the price. But does that mean a higher rate directly translates to a better product? Not really.
You can usually find two different percentages in crosslink; 8 percent and 10 percent. Let us take a look at the two variations to see what it means for the entire system.
8% crosslink is widely accepted and used resin percentage. It works great with 3 to 5 parts per million dissolved iron and softens the water entirely. Depending on the water quality, you can expect it to last for 10 to 15 years without any issue. You can expect the best effect if the water is non-chlorinated.
10% crosslink has more strength when it comes to softening water. This type of resin is suitable for waters that are chlorinated without iron. It is also more durable than an 8% resin.
If you are dealing with a high concentration of chlorine in the water, you should opt for a higher crosslink. On top of that, a higher crosslink percentage allows more water capacity.
However, with high crosslink resin, you need to be prepared for higher pressure drops. Higher crosslink is also more expensive.
How to Install My Water Softener?
Installing a water softener is not that complicated. You do not require too many tools, and if you have a primary knowledge of the pipelines, you can do it yourself. There are just a few basic steps to follow.
- First, you need to position the water softener correctly. Connect the inlet of the device to the water supply and position the outlet towards hot water appliances.
- Next, turn off the mainline for water. Skipping this step might result in leaking during installation. Also, turn off any heating unit or electrical connection you might have to the supply line.
- You need to drain the supply pipe completely before you go any further. Open up nearby pipes or faucets to ensure all the water is drained properly.
- For this step, you need a pipe cutter tool. Cut into the main that leads into the supply line. Since this is a filtration unit for the whole compound, you need to connect the lines directly to the water main.
- Bring out your measuring tape and cut the pipes according to the proper size. For copper pipes, make sure to solder the fittings before connecting the unit to avoid any molten plastic. Use plumbers’ tape to seal any leaks or threads. You can also use PEX tubing for this purpose.
- Flexible tubing is the best type to work with since it can use push fittings. Keep in mind that it might require additional adapters. But you will save a lot of time and effort since you will not need any soldering.
- The next step is to clamp down the drain hose. After a successful regeneration cycle, the water softener needs to be able to drain the brine solution. You need to clamp the hose and feed it into a drain safely. In order to prevent back siphon of the waste, there needs to be an air gap in the hose. Place the ends of the hose two inches above the drain.
- The final step is connecting the overflow tube. These serve as an additional safety measure to make sure that that tank does not flood. The placement may differ for different units, so it is better to consult the manual. The overflow tube also needs an air gap.
Some FAQ About Water Softener Resin
1. When should I replace my water softener resin?
If you are installing a new system, it is best to replace the resin as soon as you are done. Most resins that come with the system are of low quality to reduce cost.
However, if your luck favors you and you end up with a good quality resin, you can use it for a while. Monitor your rate of salt consumption to have an idea of its quality.
2. How long does water softener resin last?
You need to periodically replace water softener resins because they don’t last forever. Now, the question is, how often?
Well, it depends on the water condition of your house. The factors the affect the resin’s life are:
- Organic coating of the resin
- Iron of water
- Frequency of regeneration
Iron for well water or chlorine from city water can destroy the resin bed. This means you need to diagnose the bed.
If you notice that you are running out of soft water quickly or the unit won’t put out soft water like it used to do, then it is time to replace the resin. And that’s how you know how long your softener resin will last.
3. How to clean water softener resin?
If the softener in your house isn’t working properly, there is a high possibility that you are not doing regular maintenance (cleaning) that every manufacturer recommends. In this section, I’m going to teach you some of the basics as a homeowner that you need to know.
- If you see mold stains in the form of a black ring, that means it’s time to start cleaning.
- Prefill softeners are easy to clean. Just remove the salt, clean the inside of your brine tank with dishwashing soap or a mold eliminator.
- After that, you refill it with salt, and you will be good to go.
- With a post-fill softener, remove the water first. The process is a bit difficult. However, I’ve an in-depth article that should help you make this process much easier.
- Head on to your “How to clean water softener resin” to know more.
How to Replace Water Softener Resin at Home
4. How much resin does a water softener need?
The tank size of resin will determine how much resin your will need to put. Check the size sticker on your tank to know the correct size and the amount of resin you need to use.
For example: If you have a 10” x 40” tank, you will need 1.00 Cu.Ft of resin.
Follow this chart to know more, or you can visit here to know other sizes/tank dimensions as well as how to measure your tank size if it doesn’t have a size sticker.
5. How is the salt consumption rate related to the resin bed?
The salt consumption rate is monitored to check for any problem in the resin bed. If it is at a recommended rate but unable to soften water fully, then the resin bed might be damaged. Also, you might be able to find issues with the valves by checking the rate of salt consumption.
6. What is activated carbon?
Activated carbon is one of the many forms of carbon. It is also known as activated coal or charcoal and is a microporous substance.
What that means is that the material comes with minute pores that can spread over a large surface area when stretched. To give you an idea, one gram of activated carbon can cover up to 5400 square feet.
Top 5 resin brand or manufacturer list:
The Best water softener resin that we urge you to buy is the AquaTrol Water Softener Resin.
All of these resins work well, but the most decisive factor is the "water softener resin price". For a one-cubic-foot bag of resin, this is hands down the cheapest. As we have covered previously, going for the least expensive option is what you should do when it comes to water softener resin, as they all work well. Is the quality still good enough from Aquatrol? It sure is.