Best Water softener resin beads(replacement for Fine mesh and standard)

Salt-based water softeners such as twin tank water softeners, traditional water softeners, and cabinet-style water softeners use resin beads to reduce the hardness of the water. For this reason, it is important that you know what the best water softener resin beads for your system.

Most water softener systems come with resin beads that last for about 10–20 years when fed with tap water, and when they reach their life expectancy, they no longer provide soft water.

Most resin manufacturers recommend a lifetime of 10 years, but this can be lower depending on the condition of your water. 

Therefore, resin beads do not last forever; they need to be replaced when they reach their life expectancy or no longer hold hardness ions in your water.

Water softener resin comparison

1NameImageCross linkTypeCapacity Where to buy
2ABC water softener Premium Resin Replacement Kitq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07515H5ZG&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B07515H5ZG8%standard ion exchange resin/cation1 Cu. Ft. bagAmazon
3Tier1 IER-100q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B074L4CRH3&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B074L4CRH3standard ion exchange resin/cation25-liter bagAmazon
4LiquaGenq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0187R3A9K&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B0187R3A9K10%standard ion exchange resin/cation1.5 Cu. Ft. bagAmazon
5Resintech q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B000X92KOC&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B000X92KOCstandard ion exchange resin/cation5LB/poundsAmazon
6Hydrotec systemsq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00LUYWIJ6&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B00LUYWIJ68%standard ion exchange resin/cation1 Cu. Ft. bagAmazon
7AFW filters q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B004NETW6M&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B004NETW6Mstandard ion exchange resin/cation1 Cu. FtAmazon
8Aquatrol Water Softener Resin q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B01JPMYTPA&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B01JPMYTPA8%standard ion exchange resin/cation1 CuFt Amazon
9Purolite C-100-E Cation Exchange Resinq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00C6CGN10&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B00C6CGN10Fine mesh resin1.5 cubic feetAmazon


10Nelsen Fine Meshq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00AU3LFV0&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B00AU3LFV08%Fine mesh resin0.5 Cu. Ft.Amazon
11Mobile-Soft-Water' Water Softener Resinq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00E45HSXO&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B00E45HSXOportable water softener0.5 Cu. Ft.Amazon
12Ifilters Water Softener Resin Media Replacementq? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B079P7QCJF&Format= SL110 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en USir?t=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US&l=li1&o=1&a=B079P7QCJFportable water softener0.25 cu ft Amazon


What is a water softener resin?

It is a medium inside the ion exchange water softener minerals tank that is used to remove hardness in your water.

The resin has a negative charge that attracts a positive charge in your hard water making your water soft.

So if you are using a salt-based system, the resin is one of the critical products you need for your system to work effectively or produce soft water.

The size of these resins ranges from 0.3-1.2mm.

Best water softener resin

  1. Best for iron: Nelsen Fine Mesh High-Capacity
  2. Best for iron: ABC water Water Softener Premium Resin Replacement 
  3. 1.5 cu ft: ABC water Water Softener Premium
  4. 1.5 cu ft: Liquagen
  5. 8 % crosslink: ABC water SOFRES1 – 1cu ft
  6. 8 % crosslink: Hydrotec systems
  7. 8 % crosslink: Aquatrol
  8. 10 % crosslink: ABC water Water Softener Premium
  9. 10 % crosslink: Liquagen
  10. 0.88 cu ft: Tier1 IER-100
  11. Resintech MBD-30 Nuclear-Grade Mixed Bed DI
  12. 1 cu ft: AFW filters Birm Filter Media 
  13. Purolite C-100-E Cation Exchange Resin
  14. For portable water softener: Mobile-soft-water’ 0.2 Cuft Water Softener Resin
  15. For portable water softener: ifilters Water Softener Resin 

Softener resin types

Which water softener resin is best for you?

Most people become confused when it comes to choosing the right resin for their unit.

There are two different types of water softener resin available on the market.

  1. Fine mesh resin

This type has small-sized beads that are used to soften water and remove iron up to 10 ppm.

Since the fine mesh resins are small, you need an upper flow basket so that the beads will not come out during regeneration.

  1. The standard ion exchange resin

Most water softeners use standard ion exchange resin, which is excellent for softening water and removing iron between 3 and 5 ppm.

Standard resin comes in two strengths: 8% crosslink and 10% crosslink.

The cross-link is a connection between the inside resin bond.

For easier understanding cross-link is like twisting a string.

Water softener resin 8 vs 10

10% has more connections that hold resin together, making it last longer than 8%. 

10% crosslink is suitable for chlorinated water without iron, so it is best for municipal water. We recommend that households choose the 10% cross-linked resin if they get it from the city or municipalities that contain chlorine.

The 10% crosslink is more costly compared to the 8% crosslink resin.

8% crosslink is commonly used in most places. It is best for non-chlorinated water without iron, so it is best for well water.

Water softener resin reviews

Standard ion exchange 8% crosslink
  1. AFWFilters SOFRES1 water softening resin 
AFWFilters SOFRES1 water softening resin 

Summary

  • Cross link-8%
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity -1 Cu. Ft. bag

Afwfilters SOFRES1 is a high-standard resin used in all standard water softeners. It comes in a 1 Cu. Ft. bag which is suitable for a standard 9″ tank.

It is easy to replace and has a shelf life of 12-15 years.

It is a high-capacity, bead-form, and conventional gel polystyrene sulfonate cation exchange resin ready for use in industrial or household systems.

The resin is capable of removing hardness ions (calcium and magnesium), dissolved iron, manganese, and also suspended matter.

It is approved by USDA, NSF, FDA, and High quality 8% cross-link resin

  1. ABC water Water Softener Premium Resin Replacement Kit 
ABC water Water Softener Resin

Summary

  • Cross link-8%
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity -2 Cu. Ft. bag

It is packaged in 2 cubic feet for a 64,000-grain capacity water softener and suggested for a tank size minimum of 12″ by 52″ and is 8% cross-linked resin.

ABC water Water Softener Premium Resin Replacement Kit

ABC water Water Softener Resin

Buy here

8% Cross-Linked Resin medial for all water softeners 48,000 Grain Capacity

  1. Hydrotec systems Ion-exchange Resin  
Hydrotec systems Ion-exchange Resin  

Summary

  • Cross link-8%
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity -1 Cu. Ft. bag

The hydrotec system resin is cation-ion exchange media in sodium form.

This product is 8% crosslinked and packaged in one (1) cubic foot, which is equivalent to 50 lbs (22.68 kg).

  1. Mobile-Soft-Water Water Softener Resin 0.5 Cuft (Spare Part) for the 16,000 Grain Unit.
Mobile-Soft-Water Water Softener Resin 0.5 Cuft

Mobile soft water resin is 8% Cross Link 0.5 cubic for the 16,000-grain unit.

Mobile-soft-water’ 0.2 Cuft Water Softener Resin

Mobile-soft-water' 0.2 Cuft Water Softener Resin

Mobile soft water resin is 8% cross-linked at 0.2 cubic feet for the 64,000-grain unit.

  1. Aquatrol Water Softener Resin 
q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B01JPMYTPA&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=vibrantsuppliers 20&language=en US

Summary

  • Cross link-8%
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity -1 Cu. Ft. bag

Aquatrol Resin is an 8% crosslinked ion exchange resin that is sold in a 1 cubic foot bag.

It works in any residential 32,000-grain system.

  1. Purolite C-100-E Cation Exchange Resin
Purolite C-100-E Cation Exchange Resin

Purolite is a strong acid gel-type cation exchange resin and is sold for 50 pounds.

It is designed for the treatment of foodstuffs, beverages, potable water, and water used in the processing of food.

The resin is in compliance with the U.S. food and drug administration code of federal regulations, Section 21, Paragraph 173.25, for the use in the treatment of foods for human consumption.

  1. Resin High Capacity Replacement Water Softener Resin – 8% Crosslink 1/2 cubic foot
Resin High Capacity Replacement Water Softener Resin
  1. Amanzi CATION-50-BOX HI-Capacity Water Softening Resin
Amanzi CATION-50-BOX HI-Capacity Water Softening Resin
  •  8% Polystyrene cross-linked with Divinylbenzene
  • 1/2 cubic foot

10 cross linked Water softener resin
  1. Oceanic water systems Water Softening Resin 10% Cross Linked Cubic Ft (1.0 Cubic Ft)
Oceanic water systems Water Softening Resin 10% Cross Linked  Cubic Ft (1.0 Cubic Ft)

Oceanic water system water softening resins are 10% cross-linked.

10% cross-linked resin is used for chlorinated water. It can also be used for well water sources.

  1. American water solution 10% Strong Acid Water Softening Resin 1 cubic foot. Bag Replacement Media
American water solution 10% Strong Acid Water Softening Resin 1 cubic foot. Bag Replacement Media

The American water solution is 10% strong acid resin.

10% is designed to be used in high chlorine areas.

This type is coated with an extra layer that helps it to withstand the breakdown process that happens when it comes in contact with Chlorine and Chloramines.

  1. ABC water Water Softener Premium
ABC water Water Softener Premium

Summary

  • Cross link-10%
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity -1.5 Cu. Ft. bag

This is a replacement kit for a 48,000-grain capacity water softener.

The kit includes 1.5 cubic feet of high-capacity 10% resin media, a distributor basket, a funnel for loading resin, and a reusable blue bag.

10% cross-linked resin is used for water that is chlorinated and without iron.

  1. LiquaGen (1/2 CU FT) Water Softening Ion Exchange Resin Cation + Resin Loading Funnel
LiquaGen (1/2 CU FT) Water Softening Ion Exchange Resin Cation + Resin Loading Funnel

Summary

  • Cross link-10%
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity -1/2 Cu. Ft. bag

LiquaGen ion exchange resin cation is not only used for softening hard water but is also used for the treatment of food, beverages, water used for processing food, and potable water.

This resin is 1/2 cubic foot, 10% cross-linked, and comes with a resin loading funnel.


  1. Resintech MBD-30 Nuclear-Grade Mixed Bed DI Resin
Resintech MBD-30 Nuclear-Grade Mixed Bed DI Resin

Summary

  • Crosslink-N/A
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity -5LB/pounds

The five-pound bag is a mixture of both cation and anion resins.

It is a self-indicating mixed bed resin where the anion resin is a Type I strongly basic gel with an indicator dye that changes from blue to colorless as the resin exhausts, while the cation component is a strong acid sulfonated polystyrene gel type that changes from a green color to a violet color when used up.

Resintech is intended for use in see-through housing and resin tanks without a meter, so you only rely on the color change when the resin is exhausted.

  1. Tier1 IER-100 Ion Exchange

Summary

  • Crosslink-N/A
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity – 25-liter bag/0.88 cu ft

Tier1-100 is suitable for both residential and commercial systems.

It is a premium high-capacity gel polystyrene strong acid cation exchange resin suitable for most water softeners and is sold in a 25-liter bag.

This resin lasts for 10–15 years.

  1. AFW filters Birm Filter Media 
AFW filters Birm Filter Media 

Summary

  • Crosslink-N/A
  • Type – standard ion exchange resin/cation
  • Capacity -1 Cu. Ft. bag

AFW filter birm filter media is 1 Cu. Ft. bag is suitable for removing manganese up to 6ppm and iron up to 8ppm.

  1. Ge WS01X10002 Water Softener Resin Genuine Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Part
Ge WS01X10002 Water Softener Resin Genuine Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Part
  1. Max water Strong Type Cation Resin
Max water Strong Type Cation Resin

Fine mesh Resin

Fine mesh is the best water softener resin for iron removal making it ideal for well water.

  1. ABC water Water Softener Premium Resin Replacement 
ABC water fine mesh iron treating resin

This type is a high-quality Fine Mesh Iron Treating Resin used in all water softener types.

The package includes 1.5 cubic feet of high-capacity Fine Mesh resin media, a distributor basket, a funnel for loading resin, and a reusable blue bag exclusive to ABC Waters-branded products. 1.5 cubic feet is suitable for a tank with a minimum size of 10″ by 54″ and a 48000-grain capacity.

  1. Nelsen Fine Mesh High-Capacity Resin
Nelsen Fine Mesh High-Capacity Resin

Nelsen is a fine-mesh water softener resin sold in 0.5 cubic feet. It is suitable for treating water with iron and extremely hard water.

This is 8% cross-linked and works effectively on both commercial and residential water softener systems.



Portable water softener resin

The resin is suitable for portable water softeners.

  1. Ifilters Water Softener Resin Media Replacement 100% Ion Exchange Cation – 0.25 CuFt
Ifilters Water Softener Resin Media Replacement 100% Ion Exchange Cation - 0.25 CuFt

Buy here

Ifilters are 0.25 cu ft of resin for the 8,000-grain unit.

It is suitable for portable water softeners.

On the go Water softener resin replacement

  1. Portable Standard Water Softener Refill Kit

Buy here

The refill kit includes high-capacity, premium-grade exchange cation resin and all the tools needed to refill your tanks, such as a funnel, silicone lubricant, a distributor cap, and instructions.

The resin is for an 8,000-grain on-the-go portable standard water softener.

Portable Double Standard Water Softener Refill Kit

Buy here

The refill kit includes high-capacity, premium-grade exchange cation resin and all the tools needed to refill your tanks, such as a funnel, silicone lubricant, a distributor cap, and instructions.

The resin is for a 16,000-grain on-the-go portable double standard water softener.


Water softener resin 1.5 cu ft


Best Water softener resin for iron

How long does the water softener resin last

The majority of manufacturers recommend that resin last 10 years, but the condition of your water determines this.

Water supplied by municipal sources has a high content of chlorine, which can reduce the lifespan of the resin.

Well water has a high content of iron, and that can affect the resin’s life span.

When do you know it is time to change the water to softer resin?

  • Once the resin has reached its life expectancy. Most manufacturers indicate the life expectancy on the product label. Check the product label before buying to be sure how long will your resin lasts
  • When the resin reaches its life expectancy, the fines will start coming out and come into the house clogging faucet.
  • When you notice a resin tank has some sediment particles. You need to replace the resin and install a sediment filter before the water softener. There is a salt-based water softener that comes with a sediment filter.
  • When the resin tank has sat for time unused, you sense a strong odor. You can clean resin using cleaner but if it does not solve the problem dump resin and replace it with new ones.
  • If your resin is coated with iron, you can remove it by cleaning it with a strong resin cleaner but if the problem persists replace it with a new one.
  • If the water pressure starts to be lower than it used to be.
  • When your water softener starts producing hard water. It does not give soft water like before.
  • In case you clean your brine and resin tank, change the salt, and regenerate the system, the water coming through remains hard. This means it’s time to change the resin.

How much resin do you need for replacement?

If you want to know how much resin you need for your water softener, make sure you are sure of the size of your resin tank.

Your tank’s diameter matters. Some tanks have a sticker somewhere that tells you the size, while for others you have to take the measurement yourself.

The sticker measurement is written as 1035. meaning the first two digits (10) are tank circumference or width, and the last two are tank height (35).

If your tank doesn’t have a sticker, you can measure it. 

How do you measure the size of your tank?

Measure the height of the fiberglass tank that contains resin.

Sometimes the tank has a decorative plastic jacket placed over the fiberglass or polyglass tank.

Make sure you don’t measure that plastic jacket; it is meant for protecting your tank, so it is not the real resin tank.

Then measure the diameter/width of the tank.

Measure the width or use the string to measure around the tank divided by pi 3.14.

For instance, if your width or circumference is 30 divide by 3.14 so the width inch is 9.5.

Then round down to the whole number, so that is 9 inches.

Typical tank sizes and resin used

9″ x 48″ – 1.0 cubic feet.

10″ x 54″ – 1.5 cubic feet.

12″ x 48″ – 2.0 cubic feet.

13″ x 54″ – 2.5 cubic feet.

14″ x 65″ – 3.0 cubic feet.

You can use an APS water calculator to give you the exact amount of resin you need for your softener.

Never fill the media to the top because different media behaves differently some require space for expansion when backwashing.

How to replace Water softener resin

  • Turn off the system and disconnect from the power source
  • Disconnect the valve head from the bypass valve
  • Disconnect the valve head from the tank
  • Find someone to help hold the tank
  • Pout out resin beads and gravel

Read detailed instructions here

How to change Water softener resin video

Bonus video about water softener resin

How can I tell if I have Standard ion exchange resin or fine mesh resin?

It is hard to tell which type of resin you have by looking with the naked eye.

So how do you tell the difference?

Take a pinch of resin and place it on the palm of your hand.

Squeeze using your index finger, so if it clumps, that is fine mesh resin, and if it forms like a ball, that is standard ion exchange resin.

The resin beads are an important medium in every water softener.

Without resin, you cannot get your hard water treated unless you use a water softener alternative such as an electronic conditioner that only descales but does not remove hardness from water.

Water softener resin how it works?

Resin is a media found in the water softener tank to remove hard minerals in the water. They are negatively charged and hard water is positively charged. So when hard water comes to contact with resin, the resin attracts minerals in hard water leaving you with softened water

Water softener resin in faucet/ toilet tank/drain

When the resin reaches its life expectancy, the fines will start coming out and come into the house faucet, drain, or toilet tank

Water softener resin life

How long does Water softener resin last? This is the question most people ask. Water softener resin is meant to last between 15-20 years

What is Water softener resin made of?

The resin is made of string/thread/strand of Polystyrene which is wrapped in crisscross foam along with Divinylbenzene (DVB). Divinylbenzene (DVB) acts as glue to hold resin together. The crisscross or connection of polystyrene in water softener resin is called cross-link

Water softener resin disposal

Since resin is not poisonous/toxic/hazardous /harmful/dangerous you can spread it on the flower bed or lawn. If you don’t have a flower bed or lawn you can put it in a container for disposal.

Are water softener resin poisonous / toxic /hazardous /harmful/dangerous?

The resin is not poisonous, toxic, hazardous, harmful, or dangerous and can be spread on the flower bed or lawn.

We hope our guide and review of the best water softener resin will help you choose the right product.

    Luxy is a content writer who enjoys writing about water filtration technologies. She knows that water is a crucial part of our lives and it is important to make sure that we are drinking clean and healthy water. She developed this site in an effort to educate readers on the fundamentals of water treatment at home, at work, and when traveling. Also, the importance of clean, healthy drinking water for people in his community. When she's not working, she likes to spend time with her family and listen to music.