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how to add salt to a water softener

How to Add Salt to a Water Softener?

Adding salt to your water softener is key. Without it, ion exchange-based systems simply won’t work. Many factors determine how much salt to put in a water softener, including the type of system, the brine tank’s size, your water hardness level, and daily water usage.

Those are a lot of things to keep track of. In this post, we’ll give you some pointers for doing just that and keeping your softener running smoothly.

How to Add Salt to a Water Softener

Before we get too deeply into how much salt you need, let’s tackle to basics: how to add salt to a water softener. Luckily, this is quite easy. You simply locate the brine tank where the salt resides, open the lid and refill it. With most softeners, the tank will be very easily accessible, unlike the resin bed, which is typically sealed.

How Much Salt Goes In A Water Softener?

In Phoenix, water softeners are essential due to the region’s characteristically hard water. These systems have gotten more efficient with time, which is why softeners today (such as those we carry at American Home Water and Air) do not use as much salt as older systems. Just as that of water heater sizing, the standard size of water softeners should also be taken into account.

For every regeneration cycle, you should only need to use between 6 and 8 pounds of salt depending on the size of the brine tank.

How Much Salt Does a Water Softener Use?

With many water softeners, regeneration typically happens at least once per week. At that rate, you can expect to use a 40-pound bag of salt roughly once every month. While that’s a very reasonable amount of salt, you may understandably want to minimize usage further. To do that, consider using very clean salt with at least 99.5% salt content or more. Instead of using sodium, you can also use potassium chloride. However, potassium chloride gets wet and forms “bridges” in your brine tank. As such, the water level in your brine tank should be halfway in the tank or a little more so you can monitor as the salt level foes down.

What Type Of Salt Should You Use?

You have two primary options when it comes to your water softener and adding salt. These options are sodium chloride and potassium chloride. While both are technically salt, at American Home Water and Air we typically recommend the former as it is more effective. With some types of water softeners, you may not even have a choice; they may only work with one or the other. 

Even in dual systems, potassium chloride behaves more like a conditioner in that it does not actually remove the troublesome minerals from your water as sodium does. In other words, it’s less efficient.

How Often Should You Add Salt to a Water Softener? Ways To Check

Now that you know how much salt goes in a water softener, how to add salt to a water softener, and how much salt a machine uses, let’s explore ways to determine if it’s time to refill the tank.

Inspect The Brine Tank

With a water softener, adding salt becomes very easy once you’re accustomed to the system. Conduct regular checks of the water softener’s salt supply. This is as simple as opening the brine tank and ensuring it is at least half full. If it’s not, refill it immediately and establish a schedule for doing this.

Account For Your Softener’s Age

The age of your water softener determines how much salt it uses. In most cases, softeners older than ten years run on old systems that use more salt than newer softeners with more efficient systems. With the more modern systems, regeneration occurs based on demand. Some of these modern systems will even alert you when the salt level falls below adequate levels. If you have a new water softener model, adding salt to the water softener can typically be done after about 6 to 8 weeks. However, always check the salt level to ensure the softener is working optimally. 

Check For Salt Bridges Regularly

Salt bridges make it difficult to gauge how much salt to put in your water softener. You see, salt bridges consist of a layer of salt covering an air pocket. If you take a quick glance at a salt bridge, you’ll think the tank is more full than it actually is.

If the salt level appears to be suspiciously consistent for longer than usual, take a small shovel and jab at the topmost layer. If it’s a salt bridge, it will cave in and reveal your system’s true levels.


You should now have a solid idea of how to refill your water softener and the appropriate quantities. The process is easy: open the lid of the brine tank and add salt. Conduct regular inspections of the brine tank to ensure it is at least half full at all times. Expect to use roughly one 40-pound bag of salt per month. If you like to read more content on our website, check out the next article on “4 things to do in Peoria“.

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