How Much Salt Should be in a Water Softener

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It's hard enough moving into a new place, but finding out that you have to deal with hard water on top of everything else is definitely frustrating. Not to mention, trying to figure out how much salt should be in a water softener can feel downright daunting.  Too little salt and the water softener won't work properly. Too much salt can cause the unit to break down.

Here is a comprehensive guide on how much salt should be in your water softener for your specific needs.

How Much Salt to Put in Water Softener Brine Tank

The brine solution is a necessary part of the ion exchange process in a water softener because salt is what regenerates the ion resins of a softener. This makes a water softener regenerate. So, it's important for your softener's components to have the proper amount of salt in the brine tank. But, how do you add salt to a water softener, and how much salt should you put in your water softener brine tank?

The brine tank is the part of your water softener that holds the salt. So, it's possible to have too much and too little salt in your brine tank. To keep your water softener working at maximum efficiency, you need to maintain the proper amount of salt. A good rule of thumb to follow is to:

  • Keep your brine tank at least one quarter full of salt at all times.
  • Your salt shouldn't exceed 4 to 6 inches below the top of your brine tank.
  • Make sure that your salt level always stays a few inches above the water level in your brine tank.

Types of Water Softener Salt

There are three different types of salt that you can put inside of water softeners, and they come in different purity levels. They include pellets, crystals, and blocks. The purity levels will be rock salt, evaporated salt, and solar salt.

Rock Salt

Rock Salt
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Rock salt is the least expensive type of salt that you'll find for your water softener. It's also the most commonly used type of salt. This type of salt typically comes from underground mines, and it's then crushed into smaller pieces. They contain impurities such as calcium sulfate, which will not let them dissolve easily. It looks like little rocks, hence the name.

Solar Salt

Solar salt has more purity, although it will have trouble with high water hardness levels. It's created by the evaporation of seawater. This salt looks white and opaque.

Evaporated Salt

 Evaporated salt
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Evaporated salt is made through a process that involves the evaporation of water from a saturated brine solution. This results in large, dry crystals. This type of salt is very pure and dissolves quickly. It's also the most expensive type of salt on the market. It's the salt that most household consumes.


Crystals come in purities of rock salt or solar salt. Crystals have the highest chance of leaving residue and having the salt turn into a mush that will require cleaning the tank more often.


Pellets come in purities of solar salt and evaporated salt. They're the most used and the most recommended by any company because they have the best chance of leaving little to no residue behind based on the quality of your product.


Blocks come in purities of solar salt and evaporated salt. Very few companies recommend them for their water softeners. If you buy these, make sure you follow the company's directions for the proper use and clean the tanks more frequently.

The best type of these combinations is evaporated salt in pellet forms because it has the highest purity contents and best results of salts. The potassium chloride pellets are of the same quality but are more expensive.

Tips for Adding Salt to Your Brine Tank

Before adding any additional salt to the brine tank, make sure you break up or loosen any of the remaining salt. You can use a broom to do this or any other similar long object.

If there is any encrusted salt on the sides of the brine tank, loosen and break it off so that it falls to the bottom of your tank and break apart any large pieces that have stuck together.

If a salt bridge has formed in your brine tank, you can also break it up with a broom. If it's difficult to break apart, try pouring some hot water over it first to soften it up.

Only use proper water softener salt, either sodium chloride or potassium chloride, that is specifically made for water softeners. Do not use regular salt as it isn't pure as water softener salt and will damage your unit, and the smaller granules will dissolve too quickly.

How Much Salt Will Water Softener Use?

The amount of salt that will go through your water softening process depends on a number of factors. These include:

The Needs of Your Family

The size of your family is going to play a big role in how much salt your water softener will use. If there are only two or three people in your household, you're not going to need as much salt as someone with a larger family. A larger family will consume more water which will cause your softener to regenerate more frequently, and thus more salt will need to be added often.

The Hardness of Your Water

This is probably the most important factor when it comes to how much salt your water softener will use. If you have really hard water, it's going to take more salt to soften it. Hard water means more salt is needed for the ion exchange process and regeneration. It's part of the water treatment process to provide soft water to homes.

The Efficiency of Your Water Softener

Some water softeners are more efficient than others. If you have a high-efficiency unit, it's going to use less salt than a lower-efficiency unit. This is because high-efficiency units have larger resin beads that can exchange more ions and don't need to regenerate as often. So, it's always good to invest in the best water softener shower head to save money in the long run.

The Size of Your Brine Tank

The size of your brine tank also plays a role in the amount of salt your water softener will use. If you have a smaller tank, it will need to be refilled more often. A larger tank will last longer between refills. It's important to choose the right size tank for your needs so that you don't run out of salt too often or end up with too much salt in your tank. The size of your water softener will also impact the amount of salt to use in your system. So, make sure you understand the size of your water softener in order to use the right amount of salt.

Consider Your System's Age

The older your water softener gets, the less efficient it becomes in treating hard water. This means that you have to top up your water softening system with a large amount of salt for it to work properly. If you notice that you're adding salt more often than you used to, it's probably time to replace your system. The best water softener shower head is generally built better to last longer and doesn't need to be replaced as often.

FAQs on How Much Salt You Should Add to Your Water Softener

How much salt does a water softener use?

A water softener uses a lot of salt to work properly. Generally, most water softening systems in the industry can be adjusted to use less salt on a monthly basis. The amount of salt you need will depend on the size of your system, the hardness of your water, and the quantity of water your household consumes.

How much salt should my water softener use?

The amount of salt your water softener should use will depend on a number of factors. These include the size of your brine tank, your water hardness, the age of your softener, and your brine tank's size.

Final Thought on How Much Salt You Should Add to Your Water Softener

A water softener is an expensive investment, and you don't want to have to replace it any time soon. In order to keep your water softener working properly, you need to add salt as required by the company's instructions. The amount of salt you should add will depend on the factors mentioned above. If you're unsure about how much salt to add, it's always best to consult with a professional. You can learn about how to add salt to a water softener too!


Kristina Perrin

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.

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