Best Water Softener Resin Updated Guide For 2022

If you’ve clicked this post then you must be looking to replace your old resin. Meaning that your water softener is having problems softening hard water, this can happens for various reasons. And a depleted resin can be one big reason.

The life span of resin is around 10 years or even more but it can also be shortened drastically by high levels of chlorine or iron. It’s even worse when both are present.

So choosing the right type of resin is very important in order to keep your water softener working at its peak performance. This is why I’ve made this article to help make the best decision for your needs.

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If you’re in a hurry here’s a useful table with the types of resin suited for different needs:

ImageProduct TypeRatingsBuy now
Premium Quality Resin 8% Crosslink⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Check the price
Best bang for the buck resin 8% crosslink⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Check the price
Best water softener resin for well water 8% crosslink⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Check the price on amazon
Chlorine resistant water softener resin - 10% crosslink⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Check the price
Best water softener resin for iron removal- Fine mesh resin⭐️⭐️⭐️Check the price

Below you can find in-depth information about each product recommended.

Best Water Softener Resins Reviews

1. AFWFilters SOFRES1 Water Softener Resin

best water softener resin for the most users



The AFWFilters resin is a great choice for your water softener, this product is your best bet if you’re looking for a high-quality product. This resin meets the federal guidelines for potable water. It is approved by the following organizations:

  • USDA
  • NSF
  • FDA

It comes with an 8%‌ crosslink which can do a great job for the majority of users unless you have a high level of chlorine in your water source.

If your softener doesn’t do its job then don’t wait for it to be completely unusable, buying this resin will have you assured for a long time. Because it has a life of approximately 12-15 years.

You can use this cation exchange resin for industrial water condition equipment or for your household. It also does a great job of removing manganese, dissolved iron and even suspended matter. Due to the filtering action of the bed.

On the bag, you will find a built-in spout that can make easy the refiling of the resin tank. Also to be noted that you will need to buy a non-toxic silicone gel if you’re going to refill it yourself.  The o-rings and gasket will need re-lubing before reassembling your water softener.

You can buy this resin if you’re looking for a high-quality product and your water source doesn’t have a high level of chlorine or iron.

2. Aquatrol CAT100E Ion Exchange Resin

The Aquatrol cation ion exchange resin is a premium product designed for the treatment of beverages, foods, potable waters and the water used for processing foods.

This high-quality resin complies with the U.S food and drug administration or USFDA. It has been tested and certified by the NSF international against ANSI/NFS standard 44.

This product comes with exceptional hydraulic characteristics for backwash flow rates and optimal flow rates. It also has excellent kinetic behavior and also great chemical, physical and thermal stability due to its high capacity and porosity characteristic.

This water softener resin was designed mainly to combat hard water, but it can be used in the separation and purification of trace elements, as well as in the pharmaceutical industry and hydro-metallurgy.

It features an 8% percent crosslink which is the standard in water softeners, this resin is going to brink back your softener back to life working in the same conditions as brand new.

This product ensures a high-quality softening process and has the best value for your money. It is recommended for most users who want to replace their old or depleted resin.

3.LiquaGen 10%‌ Crosslinked Water Softener Resin

This product features a high grade 10%‌ crosslink resin which is a cation type. It is strongly recommended for people with municipal water which have a high chlorine level. The stronger crosslink will help you combat chlorine and make sure that it doesn’t shorten the resin life.

This water softener ion exchange resin comes with great selectivity and has a thermo-tolerant characteristic, also exceptional chemical and physical stability.

By choosing liquagen you’ll get a high purity premium resin designed to offer you only quality soft water. It also comes in different sizes so you get the perfect amount for doing a resin replacement.

Buy this resin if your water source comes from a city or municipality which adds chlorine to the water but without iron.

4Nelsen Corporation Fine Mesh Resin

Nelsen’s fine mesh resin offers a solid solution against high levels of iron inside your water. Why does fine mesh resin work better? Because it offers a greater exposed area on which the ion exchange process can happen.

Meaning that it can remove ferrous iron way more effectively than the conventional resins while proving the same quality of softening. It also has a higher kinetic performance than other products.

The capacity you can obtain is based on how much salt is used in the regeneration process. What usually happens is 15 lbs of chemical per ft3 is used to gain a peak amount of up to 33,000 grains per ft3.

This cation fine mesh rein can be used for industrial or residential water softener systems.

This is recommended for people with high levels of iron inside their water source, though this type of resin can increase your maintenance costs. But it can also help you save money by not needing to buy an iron water filter.

5. Purolite C100E Cationic Resin

The final choice is the Purolite c100e also a premium resin very efficient in regeneration, with great kinetic performance and low amounts of extractable.

This industrial grade strong acid cation resin is made for the processing of foodstuffs, potable waters, and beverages. It also complies with the governmental standards for use in the treatment of foods.

This water softener resin has been tested by scientists in order to find its efficiency and the results were spectacular. The purloite c100e presented an impressive performance in the water softening process.

These great results are obtained by its high bead integrity, exceptional physical and chemical performance and the low extractable amounts.

It is made in the United States if that’s important for you, so this assures a known quality. This resin is recommended for people who get their water source from well water. To be noted that this is an 8%‌ crosslinked resin so in order to maintain it’s performance your water source shouldn’t have high chlorine or iron levels.

How To Choose The Best Type Of Water Softener Resin – Buying Guide

What is a water softener resin?

The softening process can’t happen without the resin beads. The minerals found in the hard water are “removed” using ion exchange. And that’s where the resin beads come to action, as the name suggests, minerals like calcium and magnesium are exchanged for sodium.

So basically you could say that the resin beads “extract” the hard minerals from water. With the time they’ll start to get full of hard minerals, then based on your water softener settings the regeneration process starts and clean them. If you want to learn more check how does a water softener work?

Water softener resin types

There are two types of water softener resin that you can buy fine mesh resin and standard ion exchange resin.

Fine mesh resin

This type of water softener resin works better at removing iron. Usually, you would need an iron filter but there are some cases in which a water softener can do the job.

It is better at removing iron because it is tighter packed and smaller than the standard resin and has a bigger surface on which iron attach. It can filter up to 10 p.p.m that is in perfect condition but in most cases, it will be 5 p.p.m.

Activated carbon can be combined with fine mesh rein in order to decrease the level of hydrogen sulfide. This will improve the feel, taste, and smell of your water.

It is recommended to add an upper flow basket to your water softener, so the resin beads won’t discharge out of the softener during regeneration.

However, there are some downsides as well, because it’s packed more tightly the flow rater is lower than on the standard ion exchange resin. That’s the reason why most water softener manufacturers prefer the standard resin.

Standard ion exchange resin

This is what most water softeners come equipped with, the standard ion exchange resin is a cation resin. The cation resin exchanges positive ions and the anion one negative ions.

Some ions with a positive charge are calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and sodium. Those are the minerals that you need to remove from hard water.

Those minerals can cause scale build-up in your household pipes and ultimately leads to clogs and can affect negatively your appliances.

The standard ion exchange resin removes between 4 to 5 ppm of dissolved iron. A water softener works more efficiently if the iron found in your water is ferrous in his nature.

The resin crosslink

Resin beads are spheres made out strands of polystyrene which are wrapped in a criss-cross way. The number of these intersections or the intersections of the strands are named crosslinks. And they are labeled in crosslink percentages for the resin.

Crosslinks are glued together by an agent named DVB (Divinylbenzene), the number of percent crosslinks in the resin bead will determine how strong it is thus how long it will last.

There are two types of crosslink resin:

  • 8%‌ crosslink resin
  • 10% crosslink resin

The most common resins found inside a water softener are the 8%‌ crosslink, but some may contain the 10%‌ crosslink too.

The 10%‌ crosslink resin is better when softening the water which contains chlorine, it’s gonna last longer since its stronger than the other type. Chlorine water affects negatively the resin because it damages the DVB agent or the polystyrene strands. Which may lead to the crosslink to disintegrate.

Based on your conditions and circumstances the 10%‌ crosslink may last years longer than the 8%‌. In some cases, it can double the years of high performance of your water softener.

No matter if your water contains chlorine or not, in time the resin will start to damage and you can’t control it. Its performance will decay slowly over the years. You may start to notice a drop in performance in as little as a few years.

Keeping track of your chlorine level and buying the right type of ion exchange resin can lead to:

  • higher life of the resin
  • more effective water softening
  • less water and salt usage
  • decreased cost of operations
  • way less discharge or water and sodium to the wastewater treatment plants and the environment.

The Best Water Softener Resin – Frequently asked questions

Which is the best water softener resin type for you

Pick the right type of resin depends on your condition like the iron level and what kind of water source it is. With that in mind, you need to pick a resin that fits bets your softening needs.

Private Well – Lake with a Low-Level of Ferrous Iron

For the private water sources which do not contain a high level of chlorine, a lower percent crosslink rein is recommended. Your best choice is the 8%‌ crosslink resin which does a great job for private water sources. Also, it can remove up to 3mg/l of ferrous iron.

Municipal Water

These days the municipal waters levels of chlorine and ammonia are higher, standard water softening resin will sooner or later become mush. This is due to the added chlorination and chloramines.

The bad news?‌

The damaged resin can end up clogging your pipes, appliances, toilets or end up in your drinks/foods. And eventually, it can make your water hard again. For the most municipal waters is recommended a higher percent crosslink resin. The 10%‌ crosslink water softener resin with high chemical tolerance should be your choice.

Private Well – Lake with High Iron

A good water softener resin can remove up to 3mg/l of iron without fouling prematurely. But high levels of iron are dealt better with a fine mesh resin. It can remove up to 10mg/l of iron level.

The fine mesh resin can also save you some money because you won’t need to buy extra water treatment like an iron filter.

How to do a water softener resin replacement?

Well, first you have to identify if you really need to replace the resin. A common sign is if your water softener doesn’t output any soft water. Or it starts the regeneration process and then it runs out of soft water quickly in about a day or so. If you encounter one of these problems your resin bed may be damaged.

Usually, the resin bed inside your softener can last around 10 – 15 years. But it’s life can be shortened by iron in well water and high level of iron in your water source.

How can you really be sure if your resin needs replacement?‌

Just see if your water softener uses salt and the normal rate.

If it works as intended but you don’t get soft water then the resin bed has become saturated with iron. Or has been damaged by chlorine, and it can’t be regenerated by the brine.

If the salt usage is low to none then your problem is likely to a bad valve, which means that the resin bed doesn’t get regenerated by the brine.

After doing the diagnosis and you’ve found out that your resin bed needs to be replaced here’s what you need to do:

How much water softener resin do I need?

First, you’ll have to determine how much resin you need to add, to do that you need to measure your water softener tank size. Then check out this useful table to determine the right amount.

Besides buying resin a new riser tube, rinse funnel and gravel only if your softener requires it.

After you’ve got everything needed for the replacement put the water softener into the bypass position by rotating the valve. Or you could simply turn off the main water valve.

Then on the valve head turn the dial to begin the manual regeneration, which will reduce the internal water pressure.

After doing this detach the softener from the plumbing and electrical.

You can do that by removing the fasteners which hold the valve to the bypass valve and remove the unit from the plumbing. Also, be careful to look for the o rings so you can assemble them again correctly.

After you took off the head valve start dumping the resin, you may need a friend to help you lift it depending on the tank size.

The next step is to cut off the new rinser tube the same size as the old one and insert it into the resin tank. Refill the tank with the brand new resin. Then pull the valve head back in place. Put the valve back into the “in-service” position and be careful of leaks.

If all of this seems too complicated for you then simply call a professional to do it for you. But if you’re familiar with DIYs then this can save you around $150.

How long does water softener resin last?

A resin in the best scenario lasts around 20 years, but its life can decrease drastically depening on what you throw at it.

The average user water softener resin lasts around 10 years if you have a water source with a free chlorine level up to 1.0 ppm. Chlorine levels above 1.0 ppm can decrease the life of resin in half.

The life of resin depends on the water source, and you can’t really say a fixed number of everyone.

There are various factors including chlorine, chloramines, copper, iron temperature, regeneration frequency and exposure to foulants which can decrease the life of the resin.

The fouling which directly affects the life of resin is caused by iron, it also increases the degradation reaction within the resin.

Dechlorification of the water which enters the softener can be expensive. You’ll either have to add a carbon filter or you can introduce chemicals like sodium sulfite or bisulfite. But adding chemicals is not very effective for removing chlorine.


Choosing the best product depends on everyone’s needs, there are products made for most people but it heavily depends on your water sources impurities. So in order to be assured that you’ve made the right decision, read the full reviews of your desired product.

If you fall in the most people category just go for the 8% crosslink resin, if your water has high levels of iron go for the fine mesh resin, and if you have high chlorine levels get the 10% crosslink.


4 thoughts on “Best Water Softener Resin Updated Guide For 2022”

  1. We rejuvenated my water softener, just plan on taking about 20 minutes to get Purolite resin in. It sticks together a bit and makes the process a little slow going. But it works great, signs of hard water around the house have almost completely disappeared since I replaced the resin.

  2. Purolite was used to replace the resin in my water softener. The old resin had become ineffective and I was adding resin cleaner too often to get just a few days of soft water. I found some online instructional videos that explained the process. This resin worked great as a replacement. I saved hundreds of dollars by choosing to do the work myself instead of buying a new softener. I would buy this product again and I do recommend it. On a side note, there is a funnel available to make the job of adding resin to the tank and it is well worth it.

  3. Very satisfied with AFWFilters SOFRES, cleaning and replacing this resin is easy! Now we have softer skin, cleaner clothes, nicer dishes and furniture.


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