How to Add Salt to a Water Softener? (Our Expert Explains)

🤝 Our content is written by humans, not AI robots. Learn More

If you’ve just bought a water softener and you want to know how to add salt to the brine tank, this guide is for you.

Below, you’ll find our expert-written step-by-step guide on how to add salt to your water softener.

How to add salt to a water softener

🪣 Step 1: Locate the Brine Tank & Open the Lid

Start by locating your water softener salt/brine tank.

The brine tank on a water softener system is typically a smaller, secondary tank that’s connected to the main water softening unit. It’s usually cylindrical or rectangular in shape, and is commonly made of durable plastic materials. Brine tanks are generally around half the height of, but slightly wider than, resin tanks.

Look for the tank with a lid or cap for easy access to add salt, and sometimes a visible water level indicator. It might be labeled “salt” or “brine”.

Open the brine tank lid, then move on to step 2.

Draining a water softener brine tank

📏 Step 2: Check the Tank’s Salt Levels

Next, check the salt levels in the brine tank.

If the brine tank is less than half-full of salt, or you’re filling it for the first time, you know you’ll need to add salt.

If the salt level is still almost at the max fill line, you don’t need to add more salt yet.

low salt in softener brine tank

🔎 Step 3: Check for Salt Bridges or Chunks

Before you add salt, check that the brine tank is clean and contains loose, free-flowing salt.

If you notice any chunks of salt, use a broom handle to break them up. This will prevent clogs in the brine tank that could affect the water softener’s performance.

Concerned that your salt levels haven’t been dropping? There might be a salt bridge – a buildup of congealed salt at the top of the tank, concealing how much usable salt is left underneath. Remove the salt bridge following these instructions before you top up the salt.

📥 Step 4: Pour in the Salt

Open your bag of water softener salt and carefully pour the salt into the brine tank. Get someone to help you if the bag is heavy!

Continue adding salt until you reach the fill line, which should be marked about three-quarters of the way up the tank. This is where the water level will reach, so don’t add salt any higher.

adding salt to a water softener brine tank

⛔️ Step 5: Close the Lid

Once you’re done, shut the lid of the brine tank.

You don’t need to do anything else from here. The softener will fill the tank with water and regenerate as needed. All you need to remember is to top up the salt.

⏲How Much Salt Does a Water Softener Use?

Water softeners use about 6-8 pounds of salt per regeneration cycle, depending on the size of the system and your household water usage.

This equates to about one 40-pound bag of salt each month, or 12 40-pound bags of salt each year.

Let’s break it down some more.

Water softeners usually regenerate at least once a week. Let’s say a water softener regenerates between six and eight times per month – in this case, it should use a single 40-pound bag of salt per month.

⚠️Why Do Water Softeners Need Salt?

Water softeners use salt in the ion exchange process – when calcium and magnesium hardness minerals are exchanged with sodium ions.

Without sodium chloride (or potassium chloride), there would be no sodium ions in the resin beads to be exchanged with hardness minerals. As a result, water would leave the softening system with the same hardness level as when it entered.

A lack of salt in your water softener will cause you to experience the side effects of hard water, including:

  • Dry skin and hair, due to hard water’s inability to lather with soap, forming a sticky layer of soap scum
  • Cleaning challenges caused by a buildup of limescale on the surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom
  • Hard water damage to water-using appliances like your hot water heater, reducing their lifespan and affecting their performance
  • Unsightly hard water stains in your toilet, around your faucets, on your shower screen, and on your showerhead

In short, underestimating how much salt you need in your water softener, or forgetting to add salt entirely, will bring back the water hardness problems that you’re trying to avoid.

cleaning limescale off faucet

⌚️ When Should You Add Salt to a Water Softener?

So, when should I add salt to my water softener?

There’s no hard and fast rule on how often you should add salt to your water softener. The rate at which the softener uses salt depends on your water hardness and water usage.

Our advice is to check your water softener brine tank at least once every three weeks, and add more salt if needed.

You’ll quickly become used to how much salt the system uses, and how long it takes for the salt level to fall beneath half-full.

Don’t get too tied down with the specifics – as long as you establish a routine that keeps the salt levels from falling too low, you’re doing a good job.

Beware of salt bridges! They give the appearance that your brine tank is full when it might actually be empty. Underneath a salt bridge is usually an air pocket, and underneath the air pocket is whatever brine solution the tank still contains.

How to Know When a Water Softener Needs More Salt

The best way to know that your water softener needs more salt is to check the levels in the brine tank.

Some water softeners connect to an app, so you can monitor their performance from your phone. You may be able to check your water softener salt levels on the app, depending on its functionalities.

You’ll know if your water softener salt levels run out because you’ll start experiencing hard water problems in your home again. You don’t want to leave it this late before topping up the salt – it’s best to sustain soft water around the clock to prevent damage to your plumbing.

📑 Final Word

We wrote this guide to serve as a handy resource for folks who need guidance on adding salt to their water softener tank.

Hopefully, you’ve now successfully topped up the salt in your water softening system. If you think you’ll forget, set a reminder on your phone to check the salt tank once every three weeks, ensuring the water softening process can run smoothly without interruptions.

Still need help? Check your user manual for detailed guidance for your specific water softener system or contact the manufacturer for one-on-one support.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top