You have purchased a water softener, and now trying to figure out how much salt to put in it, to get softened water?
It is not as simple as it looks, more than one thing comes into the equation and makes things a little confusing.
You already know that for a salt-based water softener, salt is the most important part.
Because, the ion exchange method which is the heart and soul of the water softening process, can’t be completed without sodium replacing magnesium, calcium, and other minerals from water particles.
Top up your brine tank with the required salt, never let it run out of salt, no salt no water softening.
But, the question from where we started this discussion was, how much salt to put in the water softener?
In this guide, we are going to get a detailed answer to that.
How does a water softener work?
I don’t think you would be able to properly grasp the idea of how much salt is required, and how to calculate the salt requirements of a brine tank unless you know how a water softener functions.
If you already know that, you can skip this tiny section, and learn how much salt is required.
A water softener consists of two tanks, these two tanks can be separated from one another, or can be combined in just one tank.
The two tanks are; the resin beads tank, you can’t access the resin beads tank, the other tank is the brine tank.
You can open and access the brine tank, top up the salt here, this section contributes towards regeneration.
1. Hard water enters the resin beads tank, where the negatively charged resin beads attract the positively charged minerals.
They capture the minerals aka impurities dissolved in the hard water, once these impurities are removed, you get soft water.
2. The minerals stay on the resin beads; this step can easily be understood by recalling magnet examples. Consider resin beads as magnets and minerals as iron particles dissolved in the water.
3. After continuous water flushing through the resin beads, and the beads attracting the minerals, now the beads are full of minerals, and can’t capture more minerals. In other words, they can’t filter more water.
4. Here, the brine tank flushes the salty water, salt has already been put in the brine tank, hard water comes and mixes this salt and makes a brine solution.
This brine solution then flushes through the tube from the resin beads. Where all minerals are rinsed off through the salty water, and resin beads are again negatively charged, ready for more mineral attraction.
5. The rinsing off or rejuvenating of the rein beads tank through the salty water is called regeneration.
A system or computer is attached to the water tank which calculates how many gallons of water has been filtered, and after a specified amount has been passed, it learns this is the regeneration time and initiates the regeneration.
How Much Salt to Put in a Water Softener?
There are more than one factors that come into the equation when it is about how much salt to put in.
Things such as hardness level, like how hard your water is, the higher the concentration of calcium and magnesium in the water, the more salt it will require for softening process.
Water usage is another factor, the higher the water consumption, the more the salt will be required, and more often you will have to top up the brine tank with salt.
If you use above-average volume in your home, more water will be required per day, and more hardness or minerals will be removed per day, topping up the salt will be more frequent.
The water you Use
Every household is different. Maybe you are five persons using the softened water, but your consumption is less than 3 people using in another household.
Generally, how much salt you add will depend on how much water you consume per day. The more water you use, the more frequent you will be putting the salt in.
Size of the tank
If you have a large brine tank, you are not required to fill it up with the salt as frequently or as often compare to a smaller tank.
The hardness of the water
The number of minerals found in your water will also decide the amount of salt to put in the water softener.
The harder the water, the more often the resin beads will be required to regenerate and therefore more salt will be required.
For instance, in general, four persons in a home will require a regeneration cycle after 12,000 gallons of water.
Here, more regeneration would need to occur if the hardness level is higher than normal.
Calculate the salt quantity
We have already learned the equation takes place in making you learn how much salt is required are consumption, hardness, number of days between regeneration, the volume of water treatment per day.
A= N x H x Q
A= Total number of grains of hardness to be removed
N= Number of days between cycle
Q= Volume of water passing through the tank
H= Hardness of water measured in PPM
When you get A, multiply it with 0.035274, and you will get the ounces of salt required in one regeneration for the gallons of water, the number of persons using in one regeneration cycle.
How to Add Salt to A Water Softener?
Water softeners come in various designs and sizes. In all of them, it is the brine tank that should be topped up with the salt for making brine solution, and to initiate the regeneration process.
You can easily locate the brine tank in your water softener, and fill it up with salt. It is the accessible tank, unlike the resin bead tank, that you can’t access, and should not.
You are not required to open the brine tank for adding the salt, just open it up, pick up the salt, and pour into it, your aim should be to put enough salt to get rid of the standing water.
The salt level should be one inch higher than the water level, in other words, if you look at the brine tank, you should not feel there is any water inside.
Leave the mixing up to the tank, it will mix it up, make a brine solution, and send it to the resin bead tank when required, or when the regeneration process initiates.
It is just pouring the salt in the salt tank, it is also more about taking careful monitoring of the tank too.
Monitor the brine tank, if there is any salt bridge. The easiest way to do that is, to take a broom head, try to pass it through the brine solution, if it easily passes through, goes get relaxed there is no salt bridge.
But if it does not pass through, and it is taking rigorous work to even make it move through, it is the salt bridge formed up.
What Type of salt to put in the brine tank?
There are three different types of salts you can put in the brine tank which is, pellets, crystals, and blocks.
And there are different purity levels, such as rock salt, evaporated salt, and solar salt. I will explain them to make you easily understand which is better for you.
It is the cheapest salt, contains a good number of impurities such as calcium sulfates and many others.
If you are on a budget, and the hardness level in your area of water is lower than average, you can use this.
Solar salt is purer than rock salt, it is made by evaporation of the seawater, it is more expensive than rock salt but cheaper than evaporated salt.
It is the most expensive and purest form of salt with 99.9-percent of the purity.
It easily dissolves in the water, almost completely and leaves almost no residue to build in the brine tank, and clogs the different parts of it.
Crystal salt is made from rock salt or solar salt, it is the evaporation form and is considered more expensive than others.
Well, the crystals if stay in the brine tank for a longer time, they tend to build up the salt bridge, or much that requires proper cleaning.
It is the most used and recommended type of salt, made from solar salt or evaporated salt. This too leaves some residue.
It is the least used and recommended salt for softeners. It is made from solar salt or evaporated salt, I would suggest, you should not use it and go with evaporated salt.
Because, if you use others, you will require not only proper maintenance of the water softeners but cleaning too, which surely going to increases cost.
Can You Overfill a Water Softener with Salt?
Most of the new consumers try to overfill their water softeners, just because it will lower their labor and space out the refilling.
But in my view, and as per experts’ recommendation too, overfilling is going to put more harm than good.
Because it has been witnessed that overfilling the water softener is the biggest cause of salt bridge. I
f a salt bridge builds up in the brine tank, it makes a hard crust on the top of it, which prevents water from mixing the salt, leaving your water softener not functioning at all.
In a salt bridge, your tank may look full of salt, but actually, it will be providing no salt to the rein bead tank, in other words, no water would be softening at that moment.
So, most new consumers can do this easy mistake, making it a habit that you should never full the water softener brine tank half full to two-thirds full.
What happens if your softener’s brine tank runs out of salt?
Well, physically there would be no damage. But in actuality, it would not be producing any soft water. No salt, no water.
If there is no salt in the brine tank, that means no brine solution flowing through the resin bead tank.
If no sodium is there to stay on the resin beads, no hard minerals will be captured, which is in real softening the water.
So, the common side effect is, you will be using hard water, as there is no sodium to attract minerals such as magnesium and calcium.
How Long does water softener’s salt last?
The salt requirement of a water softener depends on multiple factors. Such as the tank size, water consumption, and hardness level of the water. So, the average time the salt last in the water softener depends on your use.
If you have a smaller tank, and your water consumption is high, it will last shorter, and the timespan between the two regenerations will be shorter than average.
In most cases, it requires regeneration around 7-days, but in some cases where the hardness level is higher, regeneration might initiate within 2-3 days.
In some cases, where the water consumption is lower, and water tank size is larger, with less hardness, the regeneration cycle still might last between seven days, but salt topped up in the brine tank might last for up to 2 weeks to 2 months.
How much salt to put in the brine tank depends on your consumption, hardness, and water tank size.
But one thing you should always remember is, never run your water softener brine tank run out of salt, make it a habit.
But it does not mean, you should overfill it. Overfilling the water softener brine tank with the salt, especially with the crystal salt leads to the salt bridge which can lead to serious trouble.
From the formula mentioned, you can easily find the salt requirement for your softener. Top up the brine tank with the salt, the salt level should at least be one inch higher than the water.
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