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5 Best Water Softener Resins – (Reviews & Guide 2021)

Did you know that the most expensive amber is the one with an insect trapped inside it? Amber is actually fossilized tree resin. With time the tree has evolved many chemicals to protect itself from herbivores.

People have studied resin in order to use it for many purposes. With this guide, we will try to help you choose the best water softener resin so that you can feel safe about your water softener system and your appliances.

Our crew has taken the time to create easy to read reviews of water softener resin and other information that will help you understand the very important role of resin in your system.

PRODUCTDETAILS
AquaTrol Water Softening Resin

AquaTrol Water Softening Resin

  • Price: $$
  • Moisture Retention: Na+ form: 46 – 50%.
  • Swelling: Na+ greater than H+: 8 – 10%
  • pH Range: Na+ Form: 0 – 14
  • Polymer structure: Crosslinked Polystyrene Divinylbenzene
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Purolite C100E Resin

Purolite C100E Resin

  • Price: $$
  • Moisture Retention: Na+ Form 46 – 50% 
  • Swelling: 10% (Na+/Sodium) and 9% (Ca2+/Calcuim)
  • pH Range: N/A
  • Polymer structure: Gel polystyrene crosslinked with DVB
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AFWFilters Water Softener Resin

AFWFilters Water Softener Resin

  • Price: $$
  • Moisture Retention: Na+ form: 45-50%
  • Swelling: Na+ –> H+: 5% max
  • pH Range: 0-14
  • Polymer structure: 8% Polystyrene cross-linked with Divinylbenzene
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iFilters Water Softener Resin

iFilters Water Softener Resin

  • Price: $
  • Moisture Retention: Na+ form: 46 – 50%
  • Swelling: Na+ greater than H+: 8 – 10%
  • pH Range: Na+ Form: 0 – 14
  • Polymer structure: N/A
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Best Water Softener Resin – (Recommended Picks)

You simply cannot miss our reviews of the top products as they will definitely paint a clear picture for you when choosing the correct item. Read away and decide.

1. AquaTrol Water Softening Resin

AquaTrol Water Softening ResinThis virgin standard 8% cross-link capacity resin will work on any home softener and even if your softening system old it will eliminate the rust and restore soft water. With excellent physical and chemical stability factors, the AquaTrol resin is quite resistant to hydraulic shocks and other causes of bead cracking.

Delivered in a one cubic feet quantity, it will be more than enough for most units, which usually require less.

As long you keep it dry and sealed you will have no problem with storage in case you want to use it on smaller units. It is an NFC certified product that you can use for food treatment or consumption.

AquaTrol Water Softening resin is a standard mesh resin that will work even with a very old softening system, as long as distributing parts are not defective. You can also mix the resin with other brands, but it is highly unrecommended by default.

Pros:

  • Long shelf capacity allowing you to store the left-over resin.
  • The resin is certified for human consumption.
  • Ion exchange replacement is at 100%.

Cons:

  • Packaging could be improved to avoid damage from logistics.

2. Purolite C100E Resin

Purolite C100E ResinPurolite resin is of standard one cubic foot package to suit medium and mall capacity water softening systems. This extremely efficient in softening very hard water and USA-made resin will make your well water clean and soft.

The spherical beads have a high operating capacity and good kinetic performance. Their moisture retention level is between 46 and 50% (Na+ form). The reversible swelling is 10% (Na+/Sodium) and 9% (Ca2+/Calcuim). Physical and chemical stability is excellent, and it is an NFC-certified product suitable for human consumption. Another good quality is that the level of extractable is very low.

Purolite C100E can be used in co-flow regenerated systems as well as conventional counterflow systems and has high iron removal capability. Being a strong acid cation resin the ion exchange is at its best.

Designated for industrial use the resin is available in a 1 cubic foot package but that should not be a problem because its shelf capacity is quite long.

Pros:

  • Highly efficient for very hard water.
  • Resistant to water hammer due to good kinetic performance.
  • NFC and Kosher certified.
  • High level of moisture retention preventing the beads from cracking or losing capacity.

Cons:

  • Weak packaging is sometimes damaged at delivery.

3. AFWFilters Water Softener Resin

AFWFilters Water Softener ResinWith a standard cross-link capacity of 8% and which is perfect for well water, one bag is more than sufficient to remove 513 000 milligrams per liter of total hardness, at least.  As a standard mesh resin, it will soften your water significantly and only slightly treat the iron.

AFWFilters resin is available in a 1 cubic foot package which is plenty enough for most moderate-sized household water softening systems, which need between 0.82 and 0.89 cubic feet. If your resin tank is 10 inches in diameter and 54 inches in height, then you would probably need 1 and a half cubic feet of resin for your refill. Additional half a cubic foot bags are available, as well.

By removing the total hardness, the resin will allow soap to do its job and your water will become great for washing purposes. However, since this is standard, not mixed resin there will be sodium ionic products left in your water, which may cause spotting. This is not a spotless rinse resin.

Pros:

  • High-capacity resin.
  • Easy use and replacement.
  • Very good price of the product.

Cons:

  • It may take a few days until the resin reaches its full softening capacity.

4. iFilters Water Softener Resin

iFilters Water Softener ResinThe iFilters Eater softener resin is perfect for your first stage of spot-free rinsing when the water needs to be softened prior to applying the second stage of treating the total dissolved solids. This resin ensures ion exchange by the 100% cation.

Depending on the size of the softener unit you choose between the different sizes it comes in. If you are replacing an 8000-grain unit one bag will be sufficient and if you need to replace a 16 000-grain unit you will need two.

The cross-link capacity of the resin is of standard 8% and it will work perfectly on your portable softener. Rechargeable with conventional table salt and best replaced every twelve to fourteen months. iFilters water softener resin is also suitable for a whole house water softening system due to its 100% compatibility with any water softening system.

Its slightly different purpose to the regular one cubic feet sized products doesn’t sacrifice attention to health. The resin is NFC certified for food treatment and human consumption.

Pros:

  • Can be recharged with table salt.
  • Can be used as first-stage spot-free rinsing.
  • Very good price.
  • A user-friendly product.
  • NFC certified

Cons:

  • Cannot be used for deionizer replacement

5. Oceanic Water Systems Water Softening Resin

Oceanic Water Systems Water Softening ResinWhat stands out about this product is its high 10% cross-link capacity giving it high purity capabilities. This media is recommended for use in cities where the chlorine level is high in water. Higher cross-link capacity withstands more to the deteriorating effect of chlorine.

Its strong acid cation makes it a quality replacement or supplement for any whole house water softening system. It is also suitable for filter resin replacement.

The quantity necessary for recharge varies depending on the size of the tank used by the water softening system. Typically, the smallest size of 9 by 48 inches would need one cubic foot of resin. A larger-sized tank of 14 by 65 inches would need three cubic feet of resin to perform its best.

The content of this USA-made water softening media is 32 000 grains in one cubic foot. So, if you are wondering what is needed for your 45 000-grain tank, the answer is a little less than one and a half cubic feet.

Pros:

  • High cross-link capacity of 10%.
  • 100% Ion Exchange.
  • Longer resin life expectancy.
  • User friendly and easy to replace the product.

Cons:

  • Can be tricky when used with cold water.

What Does Water Softener Resin Do?

Best Water Softener ResinResin is the ingredient in the magic called water softening that plays the most important role. It is what makes water “soft”. Resin beads contained in your water softener system are made of polystyrene. This is essentially what’s inside your water softener – let’s have a closer look.

They are usually within the sizes of 0.3 and 1.22 mm. What holds them together is divinylbenzene and this is how they look alike to the resin. All of them are charged with negative sodium ions. Once the magnesium and calcium (hard minerals to blame for water hardness) contained in the water go through the resin beads, their positive ions are exchanged with the negative sodium ones.

This process is known as ion exchange and is the process used by the water softener systems.

How does it Work Inside the Water Softener System?

  • Water enters the resin tank (the tank which is filled with resin beads)
  • The resin cleans out the water and returns it (using the ion exchange process)
  • Periodically the salt tank flushes salt to the resin tank (the negative sodium ion supply)

It is of grave importance that you take care to use quality salts for your water softening system because it is a vital element of its wellbeing. Here is a review of top-rated salts for water softeners where you can find out more on the subject.

How Long Does Water Softener Resin (Water Softener Media) Last?

Unlike the TDS (Total dissolved solids) resin filter in a reverse osmosis water filtration system, the resin in a water softening system is changed seldom. If you are interested in knowing more about the reverse osmosis system read through this review of top-quality reverse osmosis systems.

The filter in your water cooler, for example, is also to be changed every six months at the latest. That is if it is a filtering one. If you are still wondering or you want to upgrade your water cooler revise this guide to high-class water coolers so that you can make a better choice.

The good news here is that even if your water supply brings high levels of water hardness, chlorine, and iron the resin should last you for at least five years. So, depending on the quality of your water you will have to renew the resin every five years or ten if the quality is better.

This is good news because it means that you are not paying money every six months or even every year for the replacement and there is no effort for a time as long as five years at least. That way you can spend more on the better-quality resin. Just put a jar somewhere, label it “Resin” and start stashing.

What to Consider When Buying New Water Softener Resin?

If you were looking for a shower filter for hard water you would have to pay attention to the amount of media inside the filter because this would mean higher contact capacity, hence a more effective method. The same goes for the media (resin) in the resin tank of your water softener. This is explained further in the section.

Meanwhile, if you want more information on shower filters have a look at this purchasing guide to top-class shower filters for hard water.

  • The quality of your water supply
  • The quality of the plumbing system
  • The cross-link capacity of the resin
  • Where are you using it? (commercial or residential building)
  • Manufacturer instructions of your water softener system

As with any water softening or water filtering product it all depends on the quality of the water supply. If the water coming to your house is with a higher level of hardness, chlorine, and iron, for example, it would be smart to invest in a better-quality resin.

In terms of the plumbing system, you need to have in mind that one of the main failure mechanisms for resin beads is a water hammer, also known as hydraulic shock. When high water pressure is suddenly interrupted this makes the beads slam to the sides of the tank and brake. All these broken particles accumulate and can cause clogging, therefore putting your entire system at risk with time.

Resin product is often described with its cross-link capacity which refers to the bonds inside of the beads. If the cross-link percent of the product is higher that would mean that there are more bonds. Free-flowing beads are more susceptible to crack or break and so contribute to the formation of a mesh-like residue.

So, maybe the best option when choosing is a moderated percentage of cross-link rate or at least not the highest one.

Not all resin is considered for both residential and commercial use. There is a logic to that because the use of the softened water may differ substantially. Both will do their job, but it is something to pay attention to when purchasing your new resin.

Always have in mind the instructions of the manufacturer of your water softener system. Usually, there is an instruction for must-have characteristics of the resin.

What Decreases the Life of Resin Beads?

  • Hydraulic shock – A sudden interruption of water flow causing the beads to hit the tank walls and possibly crack or break.
  • Resin attrition – The attrition weakens the beads causing them to break, reduce exchange cites and hence capacity
  • Metal fouling – Capacity is again reduced due to the oxygen entering into the brine tank with each regeneration cycle causing iron fouling.
  • Chlorine attack (oxidation) – Chlorine gradually causes damage to the elastic bands around the spherical sponge of the beads, which reduces their exhaust capacity and leaves them inflated. This will not reduce the exchange sites but will allow the beads to crack and break more easily.

Wrap up

The quality of resin in your water softener system is of grave importance not only for its performance but for the health of the entire unit. We have done the research and taken care to find the best water softener resin that will help you ensure the life longevity of the system you have invested in.

The water softener resin reviews we have prepared can get you closer to making the right choice and solve the problem for years to come.

Stay close for more interesting information and don’t forget to give us your feedback. Thanks for reading and as always – stay put!

About David Adams

David is a retired engineer, professional homeowner and a DIY addict. He has been installing home appliances, fixing leaks and doing home improvement projects for the past 30+ years. As an environmentally conscious person, David is extra sensitive to the usage of water resources and consumption of clean and healthy water. He started Water Filter Magazine in order to create an awareness and to share his experience on household water appliances with others .

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