The water softener requires resin to suck hard minerals present in your hard water. 

Most of these resins last for about 10-20 years when feed with tap water and when it reaches its life expectancy it no longer provides, soft water.

Most resin manufacturers recommend a lifetime to be 10 years, but this can be lower depending on the condition of your water. 

Therefore resin beads does not last forever they need to be replaced when it reaches its life expectancy or no longer hold hardness ion in your water.

We have found the best Water softener resin for your system.

10 best Water softener resin in 2018

Softener resin comparison table

NameImageCross linkTypeCapacityWhere to buy
ABC water SOFRES1water softening resin8%standard ion exchange resin/cation1 Cu. Ft. bagBuy here
Tier1 IER-100water softener resinstandard ion exchange resin/cation25-liter bagBuy here
LiquaGen10%standard ion exchange resin/cation1.5 Cu. Ft. bagBuy here
Resintech best water softener resinstandard ion exchange resin/cation5LB/poundsBuy here
Hydrotec systemswater softener resin8%standard ion exchange resin/cation1 Cu. Ft. bagBuy here
AFW filters water softener replacement resinstandard ion exchange resin/cation1 Cu. FtBuy here
Aquatrol Water Softener Resin softener resin8%standard ion exchange resin/cation1 CuFtBuy here
ABC water Water Softener Fine mesh resin1.5 cubic feetBuy here
Nelsen Fine Meshfine mesh resin8%Fine mesh resin.5 Cu. Ft.Buy here

What is a water softener resin?

It is a media inside the ion exchange water softener minerals tank that used to remove hardness in your water.

The resin has a negative charge that attracts positive charge in your hard water making your water soft.

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So if you are using salt-based water softener system, resin is one of the critical product you need for your system to work effectively or produce soft water.

The size of these resins ranges from 0.3-1.2mm.

Softener resin types 

Which water softener resin is best for you?

Most people become confused when it comes to choosing the right resin for your unit.

There are two different types of water softener resin available in the market.

  1. Fine mesh resin

This type has small sized beads which are used to soften water and remove iron up to 10P.P.M.

Since the fine mesh resins are small-sized, you need an upper flow basket so that the beads will not come out during regeneration.

  1. The standard ion exchange resin

Most water softeners use Standard ion exchange resin which is excellent to soften water and remove iron between 3-5P.P.M.

It regenerates using either Sodium Chloride/salt or Potassium Chloride.

Cation resin comes into two sizes: 8% Crosslink and 10% Crosslink.

The cross-link is a connection between the inside resin bond.

For easier understanding cross-link is like twisting a string.

 10% has more connection that holds resin together making it last longer than 8%. 

10% Crosslink is suitable for chlorinated water without iron so best for municipal water 

The 10% Crosslink is more costly compared to 8% crosslink resin.

8% Crosslink is commonly used in most places. It is best for non-chlorinated and without iron so best for well water

More articles on resin

  1. Water softener resin types

Here are the best Water softener resin 

This is box title

Standard ion exchange resin

ABC water SOFRES1 Water softening resin 

standard ion exchange

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Cross link-8%

Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation

Capacity -1 Cu. Ft. bag

ABC SOFRES1 is a high standard resin used in all standard water softeners. It comes in 1 Cu. Ft. bag which is suitable for a standard 9″ tank.

It is easy to replace and has a shelf life of 12-15 years.

It is a high-capacity, bead-form, and conventional gel polystyrene sulfonate cation exchange resin ready to use in industrial or household system.

The resin is capable of removing hardness ions (calcium and magnesium), dissolved iron, manganese, and also suspended matter.

It is approved by USDA, NSF, FDA, and High quality 8% cross-link resin

Other types of ABCwaters Premium standard ion exchange resin/cation Replacement

ABC water Water Softener Premium Resin Replacement Kit 

Best water softener resin

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It is packaged in 1.5 cubic feet for 48,000-grain capacity water softener suggested for tank size minimum 10″ x 54″. And is 10% Cross-Linked Resin

ABC water Water Softener Premium Resin Replacement Kit 

It is packaged in 2 cubic feet for 64,000-grain capacity water softener suggested for tank size minimum 12″ x 52″ and is 8% Cross-Linked Resin.

ABC water Water Softener Premium Resin Replacement Kit (48,000 Grain Capacity) (8% Cross-Linked Resin)- 

Tier1 IER-100 Ion Exchange Water Softener Resin 

water softener resin

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Cross link-N/A

Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation

Capacity – 25-liter bag

Tier1 IER-100 is suitable for both residential and commercial system.

It is a premium high-capacity gel polystyrene strong acid cation exchange resin suitable for most water softeners and is sold in a 25-liter bag.

This resin lasts for 10-15 years.

Liquagen 1.5 Cubic Feet of Water Softening Ion Exchange Resin Cation + Resin Loading Funnel

best water softener resin

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Cross link-10%

Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation

Capacity -1.5 Cu. Ft. bag

LiquaGen ion exchange resin cation is not only used for softening hard water but also used for the treatment of food, beverages, water used for processing food and potable water.

This resin is 1.5 cubic feet, 10% cross-linked and comes with resin loading funnel.

LiquaGen (1/2 CU FT) – Higher Grade Ion Exchange Resin Cation for Water Softeners + FREE Resin Loading Funnel

Resintech MBD-30 Nuclear-Grade Mixed Bed DI Resin

best water softener resin

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Cross link-N/A

Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation

Capacity -5LB/pounds

The five-pound bag is a mixture of both cation and anion resins.

It is a self-indicating mixed bed resin where anion resin is a Type I strongly basic gel with an indicator dye that changes from blue to colorless as the resin exhausts while cation component is a strong acid sulfonated polystyrene gel type that changes from a green color to a violet color when used up.

Resintech is intended to use in see-through housing and resin tank without a meter you only rely on changing of color when the resin is exhausted.

Hydrotec systems Ion-exchange Resin  

water softener resin

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Cross link-8%

Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation

Capacity -1 Cu. Ft. bag

The hydrotec systems resin is cation-ion exchange media in sodium form.

This product is 8% Crosslinked and packaged in One (1) Cubic Foot which is equivalent to 50lbs/22.68kgs.

More hydrotec systems resin

Mobile-Soft-Water’ Water Softener Resin 0.5 Cuft (Spare Part) for the 16,000 Grain Unit.

Mobile-soft-water’ 0.2 Cuft Water Softener Resin (Spare Part) for the 6,400 Grain Unit.

AFW filters Birm Filter Media 

water softener replacement resin

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AFW filter birm filter media is 1 Cu. Ft. bag is suitable for removing manganese up to 6ppm and iron up to 8ppm.

Aquatrol Water Softener Resin 

softener resin

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Aquatrol Resin is 8% crosslinked ion exchange which is sold in 1 CuFt Bag.

It works in any residential 32,000-grain system.

Purolite C-100-E Cation Exchange Resin

water softener resin

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Purolite is strong acid gel-type cation exchange resin and sold in 50 pounds.

It is designed for the treatment of foodstuffs, beverages, potable waters, and water used in the processing of food.

The resin is in compliance with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration Code of Federal Regulations section 21, paragraph 173.25; for the use in the treatment of foods for human consumption.

Ge WS01X10002 Water Softener Resin Genuine Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Part

Max water Strong Type Cation Resin for Hardness Reduction, Water Softening Resin – 5 Lbs

Resin High Capacity Replacement Water Softener Resin – 8% Crosslink 1/2 cubic foot

Fine mesh resin
Fine Mesh Resin

Fine mesh are the best water softener resin for iron removal making it ideal for well water.

ABC water Water Softener Premium Resin Replacement 

softener resin

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This type is a high-quality Fine Mesh Iron Treating Resin used in all water softener types.

In the package includes 1.5 cubic feet of high capacity Fine Mesh resin media, distributor basket, a funnel for loading resin, and a reusable blue bag exclusive to ABCwaters branded products. 1.5 cubic feet is suitable for a tank minimum size 10″ x 54″ and provides 48000-grain capacity.

Nelsen Fine Mesh High-Capacity Resin

fine mesh resin

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Nelsen is fine mesh water softener sold in .5 Cu. Ft. suitable for treating water with iron and extremely hard water

This water softener resin is 8% cross-linked and works effectively on both commercial and residential water softener system.

How long does the water softener resin last

Most manufacturer recommends resin to last 10 years, but the condition of your water determines this.

When do you know it is time to change the water softer resin?

  • Once the resin has reached its life expectancy. Most manufacturers indicate the life expectancy on the product label. Check product label before buying to be sure how long will your resin lasts
  • When the resin reaches its life expectancy, the fines will start coming out and come into the house clogging faucet.
  • When you notice resin tank has some sediment particles. You need to replace resin and install a sediment filter before water softener. There are salt-based water softener that comes with sediment filter like (sample and link)
  • When the resin tank has sat for time unused, and you sense a strong odor. You can clean resin using cleaner but if it does not solve the problem dump resin and replace with new ones.
  • If your resin is coated with iron, you can remove by cleaning with strong resin cleaner but if the problem persists replace with a new.
  • If the water pressure starts to be lower than it is used.
  • When your water softener starts producing hard water does not give soft water like before.

How much resin do you need for replacement?

If you want to know how much resin you need for your water softener make sure you are sure the size of your resin tank.

Your tank diameter matters. Some tank has a sticker somewhere that tells you the size while other you have to take the measurement yourself.

The sticker measurement is written as 1035. Meaning the first two digits (10) is tank circumference/width, and the last two is tank height (35).

If your tank doesn’t have a sticker, you can measure the tank. 

How do you take the size of your tank?

Measure the height of the fiberglass tank that contains resin.

Sometimes the tank has a decorative plastic jacket placed over the fiberglass/polyglass tank.

Make sure don’t measure that plastic jacket it is meant for protecting your tank, so it is not the real resin tank

Then measure the diameter/width of the tank.

Measure the width or use the string to measure around the tank divide by pi 3.14.

For instance, if your width or circumference is 30 divide by 3.14 so the width inch is 9.5.

Then round down to the whole number, so that is 9 inches.

You can use APS water calculator to give you the exact amount of resin you need for your softener.

Never fill the media to the top because different media behaves differently some require space for expansion when backwashing

Bonus video about water softener resin

How can I tell if I have Standard ion exchange resin or fine mesh resin?

It is hard to tell which resin type you have by looking using naked eyes.

So how do you the difference?

Take a pinch of resin and place on the palm of your hand.

Squeeze using your index figure so if it clumps that is fine mesh resin and if it forms like a ball that is the Standard ion exchange resin.

The resin beads is an important media in every water softener.

Without resin, you cannot get your hard water treated unless you use a conditioner that only descales but do not remove hardness in water.

Hoping our guide and review of the best Water softener resin  will help choose the right product.

Water softener resin

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