How To Dispose of Water Softener Resin the Right Way

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Wondering what to do with your old water softener resin?

We’ve shared the best method of water softening resin disposal, and answered your common questions on the topic, in this guide.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • The best way to dispose of water softener resin beads is to pour the beads into a sturdy trash bag and put it out for collection with your other solid waste.
  • There are very few recycling facilities that can process the materials used in softener resin, so recycling used resin is usually not possible or recommended.
  • Water softener resin isn’t toxic or dangerous to the environment, but you should still make sure to dispose of it sensibly (i.e. no fly-tipping or flushing it down your toilet).

✅ How To Dispose Of Water Softener Resin

To dispose of old resin in your water softener, follow these steps:

  1. Empty the resin tank. Follow the instructions in your softener’s user manual to disconnect the resin tank from your plumbing, then remove the riser tube and empty out the resin beads. It’s easiest to pour the resin out of the tank due to its narrow-neck design. You might need a friend to help you since the tank will be heavy.
  2. Collect the resin in a sturdy bag. Catch the resin in a sturdy trash bag. Alternatively, catch the resin beads in a bucket and transfer them into a trash bag – this might be a little easier. You may have to work in batches if the bucket gets full quickly.
  3. Throw the resin in the trash. Tie the bag and toss it in your trash can. And that’s it – the resin will get taken away when your trash is collected.

👨‍🔧 We think it’s best to put the resin in a separate bag or container from your general trash. Ideally, put the bag of old resin in another trash bag that contains general trash. This will reduce the likelihood of the beads bursting the bag and spilling when they’re transported away from your home.

Emptying old water softener resin out of a mineral tank

♻️ Is Water Softener Resin Recyclable?

No. In most cases, it’s not possible to recycle your water softener resin.

Why? The materials found in resin (usually acrylic or polystyrene) can’t be processed by most recycling facilities.

Recycling resin without knowing whether or not it’s actually recyclable is called “wish cycling”, and does more harm than good.

If the resin beads are non-recyclable, they’ll end up contaminating other items that are recyclable, meaning that an unnecessary amount of recyclables have to be trashed.

If you’re not sure whether or not your water softener resin is recyclable, don’t just guess and hope for the best. Reach out to the manufacturer for their advice before you recycle the resin.

🚫 Is Water Softener Resin Bad For The Environment?

No, water softener resin isn’t bad for the environment. Let’s quickly look at what materials are used to make the resin beads.

Most resin for water softeners is made from polystyrene, which consists of styrene. Styrene is usually extracted from petroleum or natural gas, ethylene, and benzene. When these compounds react, they form polypropylene in a process called polymerization. The resulting product is the material used in water softener resin.

The resin in a water softener isn’t toxic because manufacturers can only legally sell FDA-compliant materials.

Plus, water softener resin is designed to trap calcium and magnesium minerals, and low levels of iron. Old resin may also contain low levels of sodium ions from the softener salt. These minerals are found naturally in the environment, so they won’t cause any harm in landfill sites.

Water softener ion exchange resin

🔂 Can You Reuse Water Softener Resin?

You might be wondering whether you can be savvy with your old resin and use it for another purpose once its ion exchange days are over.

👨‍🔧 The answer is usually no, for one simple fact: resin doesn’t really serve any other purpose than water softening.

Once the resin goes bad, it’ll no longer be suitable for facilitating the ion exchange process in your water softener. At this point, it’s time for a new resin.

But since the old softening resin is only intended for water softening, you’ll struggle to find another use for it in your home.

Resin looks a bit like sand, so you might choose to use it in a planter mixed with soil. You never know – you might grow something.

You could also give the resin one last purpose as kitty litter, then throw it out once used.

📆 How Long Does Water Softener Resin Last?

Wondering when you’ll need to replace the polystyrene resin in your water softener tank?

The exact lifespan of ion exchange resin depends on factors including its quality and crosslink percentage, but most resin lasts 10-15 years on average.

If you use a resin cleaner once a year and your drinking water supply doesn’t contain high levels of ferrous iron or chlorine, you resin bed might last up to 20 years.

So, while you have to top up the brine tank frequently, you won’t have to touch the resin for at least a decade (aside from when you’re adding a resin cleaner).

Standard versus fine mesh resin

❔ Water Softening Resin Disposal: FAQ

Can you flush old water softener resin down the toilet?

No, you can’t flush old softener resin down the toilet. The resin beads may end up in natural water sources, potentially harming aquatic life and further contributing to the pollution of our waterways.

Is water softener resin hazardous?

No, water softener resin isn’t hazardous. It’s safe to dispose of with your other regular trash items. Just don’t wash or flush the resin down your drain as this could cause blockages and result in environmental pollution.

Does water softener resin dissolve?

No, water softener resin is made from polypropylene, a material that doesn’t dissolve in water over time. It’s NOT the same as water softener salt (which dissolves to form salty water) should be disposed of with your other solid waste in your trash can.

How do I empty my water softener resin tank?

You can empty a water softener resin (mineral) tank by draining the water, then detaching the tank from the plumbing, removing the riser tube, and carefully pouring the resin out of the tank into a bucket or trash bag. The tank opening is usually too small to dip a bucket or a cup into, so pouring is usually the only way to get the resin out.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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