How to add salt to water softener

Last updated on: May 1, 2024.

The key to an efficient water softener is adding the right type of salt to the brine tank at the right time. Ideally, you should check the brine tank at least once a month. And, if you find that the brine tank is less than half-full, you can add more salt. The one vital thing to keep in mind is that you do not overfill the tank.

It is particularly helpful to monitor the tank if the water softener is an older model as they tend to regenerate more often. The newer models come with a brine tank monitor, and they regenerate with greater efficiency based on demand.

Remember that you need an adequate amount of salt to produce the brine solution to regenerate the resin beads. 

Why It’s Important to Add Salt to Your Water Softener on Time?

Water softeners have become essential because of the hardness levels in our home’s water supply. Water softeners have a resin tank and a brine tank. The former contains plastic beads called resin to help soften the water. The brine tank contains salt and water to clean out the resin tank every few days, which is called a regeneration process.

Water enters the resin tank and flows over the resin beads that are negatively charged with sodium ions. It is this negative charge that traps the calcium and magnesium that have positively charged ions. The hard minerals remain in the resin tank allowing only the softened water to flow into our homes through the pipes.

However, over time, the resin beads become saturated with the hard minerals and gradually become ineffective. This is when the brine tank comes into play. The water from the brine tank flows into the resin tank and triggers a reverse ion-exchange process. The resin beads absorb fresh sodium ions and release the mineral ions. You can drain the mineralized water out of the tank.

New models of water softeners have an auto mode that automatically triggers the regeneration process every few days until the brine tank runs out of salt. 

If you allow the brine tank to run out of salt, you are going to find that the water is no longer soft as the resin beads are no longer able to trap the hard minerals.

This is why it is vital to ensure that the brine tank is filled with salt on time in a scheduled manner.

The regeneration process depends on maintaining a routine to let you know when salt must be added to the tank. 

Follow these 7 simple steps on how to add salt to a Water Softener:

adding softener salt

Adding salt to a water softener is quite simple. You can follow these 7 steps to ensure that the brine tank has the required amount of salt to do the job. 

1. Buying the right salt

Buy the right kind of salt. Make sure that it is pure as it dissolves quickly. Salt in the form of pellets is the best kind.  

2. Switch off the water softener

You would need to switch off the unit before checking the brine tank.

3. Check the salt level

Open the brine tank and check the salt level. The salt level should be at least a little above the halfway mark. There should be more salt than water, and if you see that the water has risen above the salt level, it is time to add salt.

4. Check for a salt bridge

Check the brine tank to see if there is a salt bridge. Use a long-handled broom or a stick to break the salt bridge to loosen the salt that has clumped together. Break up the encrusted salt.

5. Check for salt mush

Below the top level of salt that has formed into a salt bridge, there may be salt mushing, especially if the brine tank has not been cleaned. It will look like a muddy sludge, and it prevents the water from flowing freely. You may need to remove the salt and clean the brine tank thoroughly.

If ignored, the sludge will clog essential valves and raise the water level. 

6. Add the salt

Now that you have broken down the salt bridge and cleaned the brine tank, you are ready to add salt. Add as much salt as needed. You can stop just below five or six inches from the top of the tank. Make sure that you don’t fill the salt to the brim.  

7. Let the regeneration begin

Your water softener is now ready to take on freshwater since you have cleaned the tank and added the required amount of salt. Before switching on the system, ensure that it regenerates. It usually takes around two hours to finish regenerating.

This is an essential stage as it is when the brine solution cleans the resin bed and removes all the minerals that have accumulated. So, wait patiently till the process is complete. Then, switch on the water softener.

How Often Should You Add Salt to a Water Softener? 

You should add salt to a water softener twice a month. Each time you check the brine tank, if you find that the water level has risen to submerge the salt, you may need to top it up. The amount of salt you add also depends on the hardness level and the household water usage. 

What Type Of Salt Should You Use?

The salt you use in a water softener plays a critical role in how the unit works to soften the hard water. The best salt for water softeners is evaporated salt. Salt pellets work more efficiently as they are pure. Purity in salt refers to the percentage of material other than salt.

Pure salt has less insoluble material like particles of earth or rocks. It also lasts longer and will leave little or no residue in the resin bed. Moreover, it dissolves easily, minimizing the risk of clogging or forming salt bridges. 

How do you reset a water softener after adding salt?

Each time that you add salt to the brine tank, you need to reset the salt level indicator by pressing the ‘recharge’ button and holding it for three seconds. The recharge option draws the brine into and through the water softener. Resetting the water softener includes:

  • Resetting for the water hardness level.
  • Setting the starting time.
  • Select the ‘days to empty’ before pressing the ‘recharge’ button.
  • Press the recharge button and hold it pressed for three seconds.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can you put too much salt in softener?

Yes, you can add too much salt to the water softener. Unfortunately, too much salt causes salt bridging or solidification of the salt. Salt bridges can prevent the water softener from regenerating as it should. 

2. Can you run a water softener without salt?

You can’t run a water softener without water softener salt as it would mean the water can’t get softened. The tank will fill up with hard water, which will flow through the pipes and into your home.

Hard water running through the plumbing will cause mineral buildup in the pipes and damage them and the appliances, such as a washing machine, in your home. It defeats the purpose of installing a water softener.

3. Does Water Softener Salt Expire?

Storing the salt in a dry place will ensure that the water softener salt does not expire. However, the brine tank needs to be checked at least twice a month and filled with enough salt or as much as necessary.

4. How to Check How Much Salt Water Softener Has?

You can check how much salt there is in the water softening system by opening the brine tank. If the salt looks dry and the brine tank is more than half-full, you can wait for a few days before checking again. If the salt is damp or wet, or if the water is a couple of inches above the salt in the brine tank, you will need to add more salt pellets into the tank. 

5. How to Check How Much Salt Water Softener Has?

You can check how much salt there is in the water softening system by opening the brine tank. If the salt looks dry and the brine tank is more than half-full, you can wait for a few days before checking again. If the salt is damp or wet, or if the water is a couple of inches above the salt in the brine tank, you will need to add more salt pellets into the tank. 

6. How full should brine tank be?

Ideally, the brine tank must always have at least one-quarter full of salt. The brine tank must also have at least six inches from the top free of the rock salt if you want the water softener to work optimally.  


Having a water softener without salt serves no purpose. And, knowing how to add the required salt to the unit helps the water softening process and ensures a steady supply of softened water. When you have softened water, you also ensure that your appliances, kitchenware, your skin, and your hair are reaping the benefits from a well-functioning water softener.

About The Author

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Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.