Watertechadvice.com is supported by readers. If you purchase through referral links on our site, we make a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Best Water Softener Resin

By: David Trinh
Last Updated:
water softener resin

Is it time to replace your water softener resin?

If you find yourself in this situation, finding the best water softener resin is likely your priority.

We have reviewed the best water softener resins so that you can restore your softener, eliminate hard water, and get back the water quality in your home you want. 

A water softening system needs high-quality resin that’s easy to replace and to have a high capacity crosslink. Because no two of these products are the same, we’re providing you with a rundown of the best water softener resins. That way, solving your hard water issue doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. 

5 Best Water Softener Resins Comparison Table

IMAGE PRODUCT FEATURES
hd-table__image
#1 AFW Filters High Capacity Resin
  • Crosslink: 8 crosslink standard cation
  • Size: 1.0 cu ft
  • Type: Standard ion exchange resin (cation)
CHECK PRICE
hd-table__image
#2 Purolite
  • Crosslink: 8 crosslink standard cation
  • Size: One cu ft
  • Type: Standard ion exchange (cation)
CHECK PRICE
hd-table__image
#3 Aquatrol iFilters
  • Crosslink: 8% standard cation
  • Size: One cu ft
  • Type: Standard ion-exchange cation
CHECK PRICE
hd-table__image
#4 iFilters
  • Crosslink: 8% standard cation
  • Size: 0.25 cu ft
  • Type: Standard ion exchange resin (cation)
CHECK PRICE
hd-table__image
#5 Tier 1
  • Crosslink: 10 crosslink standard cationic
  • Size: 25-liter bag
  • Type: standard exchange strong acid cation
CHECK PRICE

Top 8 Best Water Softener Resin

We’ve reviewed our top water soften resin products below in more detail so you can make the best buying decision.

#1: AFW Filters High Capacity Resin

AFWResin

Are you looking for a resin that works, but won’t break the bank? Sometimes choosing a “no-frills,” budget-friendly resin is the ideal solution, and that’s what AFW Filters High Capacity Resin delivers. It’s 8% crosslink means that you shouldn’t have to worry about replacing this resin for at least 12 to 15 years. 

AFW Filters High Capacity Water Softener Resin is a replacement water softener resin for one cubic foot. These water softener resin replacements are a favorite for many homeowners because they have long-term efficiency and are safe for residential use. 

While this resin isn’t ideal in commercial settings, it can dissolve suspended minerals and remove them from the water. These minerals include iron, magnesium, and more. You’ll also find that this water softening resin does an excellent job at removing contaminants, including dirt, rust, and sediment. 

Features:

  • Color: Black
  • Crosslink: 8 crosslink standard cation
  • Size: 1.0 cu ft
  • Type: Standard ion exchange resin (cation)

Pros

  • Safe for drinking water 
  • Resin bed lasts a long time.
  • Filters contaminants from your home’s water
  • Effectively removes iron and magnesium.
  • FDA and NSF certified

Cons

  • You must purchase the funnel separately

Check Price


#2: Purolite

PuroliteResin

Purolite c 100e is an industrial-grade, premium water softener resin. Even if you have the hardest water conditions, this resin can do the job. That makes this product one of the best water softener resins if you use private well water because they typically have high iron levels.

You’ll notice that this resin performs and other water resin, but there are additional features. For example, it helps reduce hard water issues and, in doing so, your water tastes better and won’t harm your appliances or fixtures. This resin also addresses all issues relating to the hard water in your home.

This product is also ideal if the water in your home has an unpleasant aftertaste. The Purolite c 100e eliminates the metallic aftertaste that you typically experience with high iron levels in your home’s water. You’ll also find that you won’t have any issues using this resin with a wide variety of water softeners. 

Features:

  • Color: Amber, clear
  • Crosslink: 8 crosslink standard cation
  • Size: One cubic foot
  • Type: Standard ion exchange (cation)

Pros

  • Excellent kinetic performance and chemical stability
  • It makes your well water safe for cooking and drinking.
  • Eliminates iron and metallic aftertaste
  • Compatible with all water softening systems
  • FDA approved

Cons

  • Your home’s water quality directly impacts the life expectancy of the resin bed

Check Price


#3: Aquatrol

AquatrolResin

Aquatrol Water Softener Resin is an NSF certified ion-exchange resin that can optimally transform the hard water in your home to high-quality and soft water. We love how hard Aquatrol works toward developing its name regarding the development of water softening resin.

Each resin bead forms a fine mesh for 8% cross-linked divinylbenzene and polystyrene. That way, your water softening system can catch hard water elements, including iron, sulfur, and other minerals, and remove them successfully. It can accomplish this goal without putting too much strain on your softener’s resin bed. 

In addition to being easy to use thanks to its pouring flap, you can use these resin beads to soften cooking and drinking water without worrying about any health complications. You’ll also notice that this water softening ion exchange resin has high-quality hydraulic features, allowing you to experience optimal backwash flow and flow rates. 

Features:

  • Color: Amber
  • Crosslink: 8% standard cation
  • Size: One cubic foot
  • Type: Standard ion-exchange cation

Pros

  • Safe for cooking and drinking water
  • NSF certified
  • Excellent chemical stability
  • Features a convenient pouring flap
  • Effectively removes iron, sulfur, and other minerals.

Cons

  • Only compatible with a residential water softener system

Check Price


#4: iFilters

IFilterResin

If you have concerns regarding the cost of water softener resin, you’re not alone. If you’re budget-conscious, you don’t have to worry about lowering your water softener resin’s quality, thanks to iFilters Water Softener Resin Media Replacement. 

Use this budget-friendly resin as an ideal replacement for your current resin bed. That way, you’re taking the best care of your water softener and increasing its life expectancy. We love that this water softener resin features a design for 100% ion exchange. That means you can convert hard water to soft without worrying about causing any problems to your water softener. 

Because this water softener resin is NFC certified, it gives you the assurance and confidence you need regarding your water is free from hazardous components. This water softening resin also features an 8,000-grain capacity. That feature makes this water softener resin ideal for residential use. 

We also love that you don’t have only to use this resin in your home. For example, if you have a portable system for your RV, this resin is compatible. No matter where you are or your water source, you don’t have to worry about hard water or its adverse effects. 

Features:

  • Color: Brown
  • Crosslink: 8% crosslink resin
  • Size: 0.25 cubic foot
  • Type: Standard ion exchange resin

Pros

  • An excellent choice for residential use
  • Budget-friendly
  • Compatible with most water softeners
  • 100% ion-exchange
  • NFC certified

Cons

  • Not recommended for large homes

Check Price


#5: Tier 1

Tier1Resin

Because it features a crosslink percentage of 10, Tier1 IER 100 ion exchange water softener resin is ideal for commercial and residential use. We love that this resin is compatible with almost most standard water softeners. That way, you don’t have to make any changes to your water softener for it to work optimally. 

Using this resin means it can saturate the hard water in your home until it’s soft water that’s safe for consumption. That means you have water that’s safe for drinking and cooking throughout your household. You’ll also love that this resin saves your appliances and fixtures from mineral build-up and staining. 

We also love that this water softener resin is easy to install into your water softener and, as soon as the installation process is complete, the resin starts working immediately. That means you don’t have to experience any downtime or to wait before you experience excellent results. 

You could also save yourself from purchasing a new water softening system altogether. The main reason is that this resin features high-quality porous gel that includes strong acid cation. With these features, you can count on improvements to your home’s water quality.

Features:

  • Color: Amber
  • Crosslink: 10 crosslink standard cationic resin
  • Size: 25-liter bag
  • Type: standard ion-exchange strong acid cation 

Pros

  • Safe for cooking and drinking
  • Prevents mineral build-up and staining
  • Easy to install
  • Crosslink water softener resin at 10%
  • Useful for commercial and residential use

Cons

  • Some homeowners believe this resin is too expensive for residential use

Check Price


#6: HydroTec

Hydro Resin

Even though this resin isn’t made in the US, It still meets the minimum water softener system requirements, including the NSF/ANSI 61 standards. That means you can always depend on this food-grade resin to produce the best drinking water.

Our favorite thing about this water softener resin is that it produces excellent results if you use it with an RV. Having soft water is a priority for everyone, including those who are traveling over the road. You’ll also receive these same high-quality results when using this resin in your home’s water softener. 

You’ll also love that this resin prevents build-up and scale on your appliances and plumbing fixtures. In addition to that benefit, you’ll also find fewer iron stains, water spots, and issues with soap lathering. Using this resin in your water softener also helps you get smoother and softer skin.

Features:

  • Color: Straw
  • Crosslink: 8% standard cation
  • Size: One cubic foot
  • Type: Standard ion-exchange cation (resin)

Pros

  • Perfect for RVs
  • Food grade resin replacement
  • Impressive resin bed life expectancy
  • Complies with all US safety standards
  • Effective for residential use

Cons

  • Once the bag is open, storing it is challenging

Check Price


#7: Oceanic

OceanicResin

Even though they’re new to the water softener resin industry, that doesn’t mean Oceanic Water Systems resin is skimping on quality. We love how quickly and effectively this resin solves your hard water issues. We also love that Oceanic Water Systems resin works for many years on all standard water softening systems.

No matter if you’re looking for soft water in your shower, cooking, or in the laundry, this resin is an ideal choice. You’ll love how porous the resin beads are and that, because of that feature, they can cover a large surface area. The company supplies DIY instructions, and you can also find videos online to guide you through the process. 

You’ll also love that you can also rest assured knowing that, when you restore your water softener with this resin replacement, that it’s FDA and NSE approved. The best water softener resin does an excellent job of replacing your existing resin bed. Doing so enhances the softener’s efficiency and ensures that your water’s hardness is no longer an issue.  

Features:

  • Color: Amber
  • Crosslink: 10 crosslink
  • Size: One cubic foot
  • Type: High-capacity ion exchange resin

Pros

  • 10% cross-linked resin
  • Resin beads are very porous.
  • Easy to install into your water softener
  • FDA and NSE approved
  • Works exceptionally well for residential use

Cons

  • Some consumers believe that this water softener resin is too expensive

Check Price


#8: Liqua Gen

LiquaGenResin

Are you always dealing with the destructive effects of hard water? Do you want a solution that is not only effective but can also extend the lifespan of your water softener? That’s where LiquaGen Water Softening resin is an ideal solution. We all know that when there’s limescale build-up, it goes hand-in-hand with staining when you have hard water issues.

Thanks to LiquaGen Water Softening resin, all of those issues are a thing of the past. Unlike many of its competitors, you’ll find that product has a 10% cross-link resin. That means it does a better job removing excess amounts of resin in your home’s water than the resin in other water softeners. 

We love that this black resin comes with a funnel in its package. In addition to it not being necessary to worry about purchasing one separately, you’ll find it easier to replace the resin in your water softener’s mineral tank. Using this funnel also means less spilling and waste because it directs the resin into the water softener. 

You’ll also find that this water softener resin features a unique formulation to increase its efficiency. The resin beads also feature excellent chemical and physical stability. That’s thanks to its premium-grade strong acid cation and bead formation. 

Features:

  • Color: Black
  • Cross link: 10% standard cation
  • Size: 1.5 cubic feet
  • Type: Standard ion-exchange strong acid cation (resin)

Pros

  • Features a long life expectancy
  • The higher cross-link produces impressive results.
  • A funnel is included in the package.
  • Effectively removes iron
  • Excellent chemical and physical stability 

Cons

  • The cost is significantly higher than competitors.

Check Price


Water Softener Resin Buyers Guide

What is Water Softener Resin?

It doesn’t matter if you have private well water or water from a municipal supply; you’ll likely experience issues with hardness in your water. These hard minerals are typically ions, including aluminum, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and more.

Even though it isn’t a health hazard, hardness in your water causes many other issues. For example, your home’s appliances, pipes, and plumbing fixtures could experience damage from these minerals in your water. 

Many homeowners solve this problem by using water softeners. The most popular water softeners are salt-based units featuring a resin bed. Water softener systems use resin beads to facilitate the exchange of ions and remove excess minerals from your water. That means, the resin inside your water softener removes calcium and magnesium as water flows through. Replacement resin creates a positive charge for hard minerals and leaves you with softer water. 

How Does It Work

Water softeners are an ideal solution when you want to remove all excess minerals and other substances in your home’s water. Water softeners work by using an ion-exchange process. Depending on the model you select, these systems typically feature a mineral tank or one or two brine tanks.

In the mineral tank, you’ll find a medium called resin. That resin contains beads of varying sizes depending on its manufacturer. These beads contain sodium ions and have an opposite electrical charge. Those features are what attract the hard minerals in your water. 

When water passes through the resin beads, the various charges react with what is in your water. As a result, the minerals stick to the beads and effectively remove them from your water. Throughout this process, you end up with soft water.

When the resin bed is no longer sufficient, it automatically goes through a regeneration process. Some also refer to this as the brining process. During this process, a salt-brine washes and flushes away any hard substances that might remain in the resin bed.

Different Types of Resin

Choosing the right type of resin medium involves what’s available and understanding their differences. There are currently only two types of resin, but, despite that, you might find it challenging figuring out which type of resin medium to choose. In this section, we outline both to help you figure out which type of resin is best for your home.

Fine mesh resin

Fine mesh resin works by using small resin beds to eliminate hard minerals up to ten parts per million. You’ll experience the best results if you combine fine mesh resin with activated carbon. That way, you can improve the feels, smell, and taste of your water. 

Standard ion exchange

This process is typical for most of the industry’s water softeners. You’ll find that most water softeners come in two types–8% crosslinked and 10% crosslink resin. These water softener resins can remove hard minerals that are between three and five parts per million. These water softener resins typically use chlorine or sodium to recover during the regeneration process. 

What Does Crosslink Mean?

When you see the term crosslink or cross-linked, that’s the measurement of the amount of divinylbenzene (DVB) that’s in the resin’s formulation. Because polystyrene isn’t as expensive as divinylbenzene, water softener systems featuring a higher crosslink are significantly more costly.

When resin features a lower amount of divinylbenzene, they often have larger beads. Those larger beads tend to swell up a lot more compared to their smaller counterparts. That swelling can make your water softener’s resin bed vulnerable to factors, including resin attrition and oxidative stress.

That means, if your water contains a high level of chlorine, you’ll benefit from choosing resin with a higher crosslink to help protect your resin bed from oxidation. However, if you select resin featuring a lower crosslink, that means it can hold more water. When resin can hold more water, that means it’s more effective at eliminating hard water issues. 

When Should You Replace Your Resin?

As soon as you finish setting up your water softener, the recommendation is to replace the resin. The main reason is that the resin that comes with these units is typically low-quality. You might notice that standard water softeners work effectively without completing this step. However, using high-quality resin is the best option.

Typically, a higher quality water softener resin lasts for a decade or longer. Over time, iron and the resin’s organic coating are what causes it not to last. You can tell when it’s time to replace it according to the water’s hardness. For example, you might notice that your water’s softness is changing. If that’s the case, it’s time to replace it with a high-quality resin. 

How Do You Replace it?

Replacing your water softener’s resin is a straightforward process involving the following simple steps:

  1. Make sure you turn off the water and unplug the system from the electrical outlet. Then, disconnect the control valves from the brine line, drain line, and water lines.
  2. Unscrew the control valve–this step might take more than one person.
  3. Remove the distributor tube and control valve by separating the two at the control valve.
  4. Remove the water and resin by dumping or pumping it out.
  5. If the inside of the tank looks dirty, use chlorine bleach to clean it out. You can use a toilet brush to scrub inside the tank.
  6. Use a funnel to pour the new resin into the tank.
  7. Put the distributor valve and control valve back on, screw the control valve back in, connect the control valve to the brine line, drain line, and water lines, plug the system back in and turn the water back on.
  8. Backwash the new resin for approximately ten minutes using the control valve.
  9. Put the control valve into the “normal service position.”
  10. Run water through faucets in your home for several minutes to flush the lines of air that might be trapped.

Conclusion

In the water softener resin reviews we outline above, our number one pick is the AFW Filters High Capacity Resin. We love that this product lasts a long time and can also filter contaminants in your home’s water. A second-runner up is Purolite’s industrial-grade water softener ion exchange resin. We love this product for its ability to remove metallic aftertaste and that it’s compatible with all water softener systems.

You might read many water softener resin reviews, but keep in mind that there are different resin types. The resin’s crosslink plays an integral role in your resin bed’s longevity and how efficiently it removes minerals. Once you understand these differences and each type of resin’s features and benefits, it’ll be easier to pick the best one for your water softener. 

Lastly, if you need a new water softener all together, check out our water softener review guide.

Photo of author
AUTHOR
David Trinh
David is an expert in all things plumbing, heating, cooling, and water treatment. He got his start in the plumbing business working on fixing all types of home improvement issues including water leaks, broken toilets, appliance installation, and more. Over time, he learned a ton about installing and choosing the correct water treatment products for homeowners. He nows spends part of his time servicing local clients and part of his time educating consumers about water treatment and other household appliances.