Best Water Softener Resin – Reviews, Awards, And Discounts 2021

Watching a water softener magically treat your hard water can look effortless from the outside, but there’s a lot of effort made on the inside. The fantastic machine flows the hard water through a cartridge that exchanges the water hardness minerals for sodium ones.

This is where resin comes into the equation, serving as a low-maintenance catalyzer for soft water. The resin beads fulfill their life course until a certain point where they need to be “recharged” with the help of water softener salt.

Best Water Softener Resin

Finding the best water softener resin for your unit is crucial in ensuring an effective and efficient water softening system. There are many water softener resins on the market, but for today, we’re only going to focus on high-quality resin that’s worth your bucks. Before we dive into the best-reviewed models of 2021, we advise you to read one or two resin facts that will help you make an informed purchase.

What You Need to Know Before Buying

Resin is a gel-powdery substance that’s mostly used in ion-exchange water softeners. The biggest production pool for water softener resin uses a component known as polystyrene, which contains about 45% moisture. This component is kept together with DVB, another material responsible for shaping the resin beads we often see on our brine tanks. To keep the polystyrene in its spheric shape, the manufacturers use a DVB wrapping procedure called crosslinking.

The number of intersections crosslinked with DVB is represented in a percentage, where the most common products show an 8% or 10% crosslink. As you may guess, the higher this percentage, the stronger the resin beads will be. The high-quality resin will last longer and will have a higher softening rate maintained before each regeneration. The best water softener resins usually last for about ten-fifteen years, but many factors could shorten this lifespan.

One of the most fascinating facts about water softener resin is that the entire water softening procedure happens inside the millimeter resin beads. The DVB components we talked about earlier have sodium ions that are negatively charged, which means that they attract positive ions like calcium, magnesium, and iron. These minerals make up most of the hard water composition “stick” to the resin beads, while the sodium ions dissolve into the water supply. This exchange is entirely natural and doesn’t pose any hazards to your health. If you’re sensitive to high sodium content, you read Water Whizz’s review for the best salt-free water softeners on the market. 

Types of Water Softener Resin

Before you head over to the best water softener resin, you first need to settle the type of resin you’re buying. The exciting thing about resin is that clear-cut definitions can’t be made about it since manufacturers mix different components for higher efficiency rates. However, two significant types distinguish the resin beads in terms of size, density, and quality.

  1. Standard Ion Exchange Resin – The first category groups the biggest resin production pool currently found on the water softener market. Standard ion-exchange resin can remove hard water minerals in a 3-5 ppm range, ideal for removing iron, calcium, magnesium, and other hard water minerals. Standard water softener resin requires a cleansing mineral (like sodium and chlorine) to recover during the regeneration cycles. This water resin is commonly found on newly-purchased softening systems as it is easier to acquire and cheaper to buy.
  2. Fine Mesh Resin – The second category includes smaller-sized beads that are tightly bound with one another, and as a result, perform considerably better in water softening. Any resin that’s larger than 16 and up to 50 is considered fine mesh, and more often than not, indicates a premium quality. This resin type covers a range of up to 10 ppm while being fully capable of dealing with hard water minerals like chlorine or iron. This softener resin is usually coupled with activated carbon components that soften the water and purify it.

Both resin types are suitable, as long as you buy from a dependable vendor. Fine mesh resin is slightly pricier since its production is more labor-intensive, but they don’t differ much in water softening properties. Moreover, you can find both resin types with one of the two crosslink methods, whether they’re 8% crosslink or 10% crosslink. Water softener resin life depends on the quality and types of resin, so we advise you to only aim for 8 or 10% crosslink resin.

Anything lower will require replacing the resin more often, which translates to a higher cost and increased effort. Studies show that 8% crosslink resin lasts for up to 10 years, while 10% crosslink resin goes on for about twice as much (20 years). You will notice when you need a replacement softener resin since your system will require more frequent regenerations to soften the water properly. So, to avoid spending excessive water and energy, you should check out the following list and order your best water softener resin right away.

1. AFW Filters 8% Crosslinked (1 CFT – $127)

The best resin of 2021 is manufactured by AFW Filters, which are renowned for their water softeners. On our best whole-house water softeners review, we talked about the brand’s fantastic Iron Pro 2 softener that has one of the highest effectiveness rates for battling hard water. To do that, AFW Filters has designed a high-capacity water softener resin that is suitable for both city and well water.

The one cubic per feet ion exchange resin that’s created in the shape of spherical beads. The whole bead count in the water softener resin is 90%, which is relatively high compared to other models. This type of resin is ideal for tank sizes that measure at 9″ x 48″, but AWF Filters has also included a handy guide on how much resin you need for each size.

The best high capacity resin maintains an 8% crosslink percentage, which is on par with federal requirements for clean water use. Like the best water softener resins, this product is also certified by the NSF 61 standard for clean water guidelines for human consumption. This fine mesh resin comes in its ionic form with a 16-50 fine mesh screen size. The water softener ion exchange resin also holds a 45-50% moisture retention scale, a 5% maximum swelling, and a stable 0-14 ph range. If Amazon reviews indicate how good a product, then this resin’s 4.6 rating will speak for itself.

2. Purolite C100E 10% Crosslinked (1 CFT – $120)

While AWF Filter’s fine mesh resin has a broad application base, Purolite’s C100E product is made for those who prefer a higher crosslink rate for their resin bed. The USA-based brand manufactures one of the best 10% crosslink resin for water softeners.

The industrial-grade cation exchange resin has a high purity rate that exceeded the industry’s standards for high-quality ion exchange resin. Specifically, Purolite’s C100E resin is entirely compliant with EEC’s requirements and the US’s federal regulations to clean water treatment for consumption. If you’re wondering how long will this water softener resin last, you should know that its composition will keep it around for 15-20 years.

The high capacity resin can be used in both city & well water and domestic, food-grade, and industrial water softening applications. Purolite’s fine mesh resin has tightly bound DVB components that will ensure calcium, magnesium, and iron don’t penetrate your home’s water supply. Another noteworthy feature is that you won’t have to replace the resin for quite some time since it also has a high chlorine resistance. The fine mesh resin has a 46-50% moisture retention rate and a particle size range of 300 – 1200 µm, which means that it will increase the efficiency rates of your existing water softener. Currently, the Purolite resin has a 4.6 rating on Amazon, where it also is Amazon’s Choice for the water softener resin category.

3. Aquatrol 8% Crosslinked (1 CFT – $135)

Water softener resin replacements can be a head-scratcher since you’re not entirely sure of their quality and compatibility with your water softener. Luckily, the new resin by Aquatrol will be the perfect gift for anyone looking to replace the resin with high-quality elements. Ideal for 9″ x 48″ water softeners, the one cubic per feet resin will surely give your well water supply the five-star treatment it deserves. The ion-exchange resin is also compliant with the NSF certification that ensures the water softener resin can be used to treat food for human consumption and the United States federal regulations of the same category (USFDA, CFR 21).

The best thing about this fine mesh resin is that it has excellent water softening characteristics for ideal flow rates & backwash flushes.

As a result, the water softener resin will ensure that hard water minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron are dissolved entirely into the water supply. The amber-colored resin bed has a 97% bead count and a 16-50 fine mesh size. Contrary to standard ion exchange resin, this one has a 46-50% moisture retention rate, a 248 °F operating temperature, and a 0-14 pH range. The water softening resin currently has over 100 reviews on Amazon, which have granted it a 4.7 score. Customers that used this resin replacement were delighted with its water softening effectivity, budget-friendly price, and high duration rates.

4. LiquaGen 10% Crosslinked (1 CTF – $130)

While standard ion exchange resin is sold with a distinctive bag packaging, the LiquaGen resin replacement takes a different approach. The brown-colored product makes for an ideal resin for your water if you’re struggling with efficient iron or chlorine reduction. LiquaGen’s 10% crosslink resin claims to extend the life of your water softener, reduce the scale buildup in your home, and provide soft water for the entire family. This product is mainly used water softener resin. It is also instrumental in separation and purification procedures in the metallurgical and pharmaceutical industries. You can buy the ion exchange resin in different sizes over at LiquaGen’s official website.

One recurring theme on this unit’s customer reviews was that the water softener resin lasted longer than anticipated. This can be attributed to the resin’s 10% crosslink that is harsher on minerals like iron and chlorine, causing them to dissolve easier. This ensures that the resin bed doesn’t require frequent regeneration, which is typically the main culprit in short resin life. If you purchase the 2 cubics per foot model on Amazon, you will also get a free funnel to fill the resin for your water softener. At the time of writing, this resin replacement had a 4.2 rating on its website.

5. Tier1 IER100 10% Crosslinked (0.88 CTF – $86)

Another water softening resin that you will find on most best-of review websites is the Tier1 100 model. Sold at 0.88 cubics per foot, the high-quality ion-exchange resin will immediately go to work, removing limescale buildup on your plumbing, fixtures, and home appliances. Thanks to the 10% crosslink, Tier1’s resin bed will tackle the most stubborn iron, calcium, and chloride particles and exchange them for harmless sodium ones. As Tier1 explains, this water softening resin will grant you a guaranteed fit, quality, and price, which will be immensely reliable in the long term.

Like the best water softener resins, this product is fully compliant with the industry’s standards for clean, safe, and healthy drinking water.

Specifically, the water softener resin lists the NSF 61 Standard for public health protection, the USFDA federal regulations for clean water consumption, and the EEC regulations for safe water treatment aimed for human consumption. However, you should be careful when buying this resin for water softeners since it’s packaged with European metrics (25 l), so if you need 1 CTF, you will be short. As for its rating, the 10% crosslink resin currently maintains a 4.6 score.

6. iFilters 8% Crosslinked (0.25 CFT – $36)

When you search the web on how much resin is needed for a water softener, you may come across many articles that take the 1 cubics per foot as a standard ion exchange resin measure. They don’t take into account that many compact-sized water softeners have a smaller resin bed, and thus, require less resin. If you’re looking to treat hard water in your RV, travel softener, or any other compact-sized device, then the iFilters water softener resin is your best bet. The 8% crosslink resin has an 8,000-grain capacity, which will keep iron at bay for many months.

The standard ion exchange resin is NSF Certified, which means that you can use it to treat food for human consumption safely.

The water softener resin is also compliant with the United States Food & Drug Administration, making it safe for use in all water treatment systems. Even though the ion-exchange resin is cheaper than most products, it doesn’t lack behind in quality. The 8% crosslink resin has a US standard 16-50 screen size, a 248°F temperature range, and a balanced ph range of 0-14. Even though the resin is specially designed for water softeners, you can also adjust it to work with any compact-sized filtration system. For the moment, the hard water resin has a 4.6 rating on Amazon, where most of its buyers are happy with the price range, quality, and efficiency.

7. Oceanic Water 10% Crosslinked (1 CTF – $158)

One recurring issue with water softener systems is salt-bridging, which happens when the resin bed is clogged, and water cannot be softened. Even though hard water minerals (like iron and chlorine) can cause bridging, the fault often lies in the water softener resin’s quality. That’s precisely where the Oceanic Water comes in since they produce one of the purest-quality resin that will prolong the life of your water softener while ensuring that the resin bed is nice and tidy. To do that, the water softener resin utilizes a high-grade cation resin that has strong acid components.

Even though acid is often co-used with abrasiveness, you can rest assured that the Oceanic Water resin is more than safe for home use. Because the resin is 10% crosslink, no amount of iron, chlorine, or calcium can break down the spheric shape and composture of the resin beads. As the manufacturers explain, this water softener resin will treat hard water, whether it’s from a city or well water source, so no mineral is safe. The water resin is made with US-based water softener standards, so it has a convenient 16-50 screen size that you’re probably familiar with. In Amazon, the resin currently holds a 4.6 score, accompanied by customer praise on its excellent value for money.

8. Nelsen Cation-100-Box 8% Crosslinked (1 CTF – $120)

When people are looking to buy a water softener resin, dependability is often the main trait they invest in. Spending a hundred bucks on resin whose quality you’re unsure of isn’t worth it, and we agree. That’s why we’ve developed this water softener resin list with the Nelsen Cation-100 product that doesn’t rely on praise to be purchased.

The water softener resin is 8% crosslink, high in purity, capacity, and intense acidity. That means that it will effortlessly combat iron and chlorine while requiring the standard amount of regeneration cycles to be efficient.

While the Nelsen water softener resin isn’t the best rated, it does score some points on water softening potency. The whole resin bead count on this product is 90%, which is equal to the number one model on this list. Moreover, its fine mesh size is also on par with the US’s standard, measuring at 16-50. Its moisture retention rate is also 46-50%, while the pH level range goes from 0 to 14. The product isn’t currently listed on Amazon, but it does have our endorsement for quality, practicality, and resin life.

9. HydroTec Systems Resin 8% Crosslinked (1 CTF – N/A)

The last water softening resin we want you to consider is the HydroTec Systems 8% crosslink product. To ensure that its customers know what they’re buying, the brand lists the ISO 9001 & 14001 certified facilities that credit the resin’s quality and safety with scientific agreeableness.Many of the buyers here noted that they bought this resin to go with their GE Appliances water softener, in which they experienced fantastic results. The water softening resin is 8% crosslink, which means that it won’t break down as easily and require less water & energy wasted on regeneration cycles.

What we love most about this resin is that it is a splendid iron content removal, and it does reasonably well with other hard water minerals too.

The most significant advantages of iron reduction include (but aren’t limited to) descaling, reduction costs on water heaters, and better-tasting water. As for the specifics, this resin maintains a moisture retention rate of 42-49% and a standard 16-50 screen size, which makes it a high-grade fine mesh resin. The HydroTec resin currently has a 4.4 score on Amazon, where it’s advertised with a resin-refill salt, but it’s uncertain whether this offer is reliable.

How to Prolong the Life of Your Resin?

While there are many other resin products online, we can’t vouch for their dependability and misguide you to an ill-fated purchase. The options presented above are all fack-checked with different researchers and reviewing websites, customer reviews, and manufacturer’s specifications. As far as good resin goes, it is advertised to last for about 10-15 years. While this is true, things like high iron or chlorine content cause this rate to be cut in half, especially in well water supplies where water is picked up with sediment, silt, and other excessive minerals.

Another issue related to the resin’s longevity is the number of regeneration and backwashing cycles that attack the resin’s DVB components. This happens because the water enters the resin bed at an uncontrollable speed that causes the resin to foul. However, both of those problems are related to things you can’t control, which is the mineral content of your water. Even though a water softener is supposed to fix those issues, you can’t always rely on it to do all the work.

Luckily, you can find a budget-friendly solution that will pay for itself in terms of cost-effectiveness. People living in hard water areas usually need a filtration system, which will not only provide clean water but serve as a protection unit for your water softener too. The filtration process keeps out the sediment, silt, and other heavy metals that interfere with the water softening quality. Below, you will find the best-rated filtration systems of 2021, along with their prices, awards, discounts, and more.

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About the Author Clark Robinson

Clark has always been involved in the water supply system. If you have any questions you want to ask him personally, you can reach him at