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  • September 08, 2022 7 min read

    How Much Salt Do I Put In My Water Softener?

    how much salt to put in my water softener

    Salt (or brine solution) is a necessary part of the ion exchange process in a water softener. Salt is what regenerates the ion resins of a softener. So we thought it would be helpful to tackle a few of the commonly asked questions associated with maintaining a brine tank (the plastic tank that sits next to a water softener).

    While a water softener requires very little maintenance or monitoring for it to continue to deliver consistently soft water, it does require regular additions of softener salt to its brine tank. If you’re a water softener owner, you are likely familiar with the routine of dumping bags of salt into the short tank next to your softener. But, with life being as hectic as it often is, it can sometimes be difficult to remember to add another bag of salt to your brine tank. What happens to your water softener if you forget to add salt? Are there better ways to remind you to check the salt levels in your tank?


    How many bags of salt do I need for a water softener?

    How salt is used depends on water usage and system size. If a softener is sized correctly, a residential system will use approximately ten pounds of salt per week, or 40-50 pounds of salt per month. 

    Be sure to check your salt and water levels at least once each month.

    Water softeners and conditioners work effectively with either sodium chloride (commonly referred to as salt) or potassium chloride (actually a type of salt also). How often you’ll have to add more salt to the brine tank will depend on factors such as:

    While the best way to prevent any of the issues above is to just make sure your brine tank is always adequately full of salt, it still can be tricky to know how often your tank needs to be refilled, or how much salt you need to add each time. Several factors directly contribute to this, including:


    • The size of your brine tank

    Brine Tank Size: This one’s a no-brainer. If your brine tank is bigger, it means it can hold more salt and needs to be filled less often.


    • How hard the water is in your area

    Amount of Hardness in your Water: The amount of hardness in the water being supplied to your home can influence how often your softener must regenerate. In extra difficult water, there are more hardness minerals in the water that your softener must capture. As a result, your resin will become exhausted faster and will need to be cleaned more often. This means that more brine solution will be required and salt will need to be added more often.

    • How many people live in your house

    For example, a larger family will most likely consume more water which will cause your softener to regenerate more frequently, and thus more salt will need to be added more often. Fortunately, the valve control panel on most water softeners and conditioners will do all of the calculations for you regarding when to regenerate. You’ll just need add the salt as it gets used up.

    • And how much water your household consumes

    Water Usage: Water usage is a similar factor to how much hardness is in your water. If your home uses more water, it means that more water must be treated by the softener. And that means refreshing the media and using brine solution more often. If you have periods of heavy water usage, such as when you have guests over for the holidays, your softener will need to regenerate more. This is why it can be difficult to even roughly schedule when your softener needs regular salt additions.

    • Softener Age

    The age of your water softener has a big impact on salt usage. If your softener is more than 10 years old, it may use more salt than a newer, more efficient system. Newer models also operate on a demand-initiated cycle and regenerate only when you need them to versus on a set schedule. The latest systems also have low salt indicators or even a remote monitoring alert to let you know you are running low on salt and help make water softener maintenance easy. Overall, because newer models are more efficient with salt use, they typically only need to have salt added every 6-8 weeks. However, it’s always a good idea to check regularly to make sure everything is working the way it should.


    Salt is essential to the water softening process, so it’s important to know when to add more to the system. The type of water softener, size of the brine tank, water hardness and household water usage all determine how much salt you need and how often you’ll need to replenish your softener’s salt supply. But with a few tips, you can make sure you’re adding the right amount to keep your system running smoothly.

    How much salt do I put in my water softener?

    We recommend keeping your brine tank at least one quarter full of water softener salt at all times, and no more than four to six inches below the top of the tank for optimum efficiency. 

    Determine your salt level by lifting the cover of the brine tank and taking a peek inside. If the salt looks dry and the tank is less than half full, refill until it’s just over half full. Also, if the salt looks wet or the water level is above the salt, it’s time to fill the tank about half full.

    Make sure that the salt level always remains a few inches above the water level. And before you add new salt pellets to the brine tank, be sure to loosen up any encrusted salt that may be sticking to the edges of the tank and make sure to break up any large pieces of salt.

    If the salt has formed one solid mass (known as bridging), manually break up the salt block by pouring hot water over it—making it easier to break up and remove.

    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.


    Can you add too much salt to a water softener?

    Don’t Add Too Much Salt. Adding too much salt to your water quality softener can cause salt “bridging,” or a buildup and solidification of regenerant. This buildup can prevent your system from regenerating properly.

    Avoid bridging

    • To ensure your softener is getting the salt it needs, inspect it every two to three months to make sure a salt bridge hasn’t formed You might suspect a salt bridge when the salt level in your tank does not appear to go down after months of use or when you notice you don’t have soft water. To avoid this issue, have your softener installed in a low humidity area when possible, use a high-quality salt and keep your brine tank no more than half-full with salt.



    To ensure that your water softener has enough salt to operate properly, the brine tank must be always at least 1/3 of the way full. When adding salt, a good rule of thumb is to fill the tank to the half-way point. Since we’ve established that it can be difficult to predict when your tank may need refilling, there are two ways that you can monitor when it’s time to add salt.

    • Manually: This simply requires visiting your system regularly, lifting the lid off of the tank, observing the salt level, and adding salt as needed. Once you feel relatively confident in your home’s water usage, it may be easier to predict roughly when it’s time to start checking the tank.
    • Using a Salt Monitor: The easiest way to know when it’s time to refill salt and to ensure that your tank is delivering the correct amount of brine solution is to use a WaterCare Salt Monitor. This device connects to a port in your water softener and uses electrical conductivity to detect how concentrated the brine solution is. When there is not enough salt in the brine tank, an audible and visual alert will display on the softener, prompting you to add more salt. Watch the video below to see exactly how this process works!

    Give the salt time to start working. If you maintain your water softener monthly, you still may need to give new salt time to dissolve and start working. After time, if you still notice no change in the water, there may be a problem with the system or with the kind of salt you are using. In this case, do an evaluation of the salt product.


    Still not sure?


    Staying on top of filling your brine tank is important for keeping your water softener working as it should. If your current softener seems to swallow salt by the pound or isn’t delivering the quality of water you expect, it may be time for an upgrade. Wondering which type of salt is best for your softener? Consult your owner’s manual or learn more about the pros and cons of your various salt options.

    Want to find out the hardness level of your water? An authorized WaterTech dealer can provide you with a free home water test.