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How to Size a Water Softener (And One Trick to Remove Hard Water Without One)

One might question how to size a water softener based on cubic feet of resin and water consumption in their household.


All across the internet or in specialized stores, you’ll find water softeners of different capacities, ranging from 15,000 to upwards of 80,000 grains capacity. Most water softener dealers would recommend a 32,000-grain water softener unit or one cubic foot of resin in the majority of US houses.


But there’s a catch. While a 32,000-grain traditional water softener can remove said number of hardness grains before needing to regenerate, the system usually contains only one cubic foot of water softening resin. Improperly sized softeners like these can consume up to or even more than 2,000 pounds of salt per year.


On the other hand, efficiently sized models only consume about 300 pounds of salt per year. See the difference? While the 32,000-grain model might be ideal for your home, you might sometimes be better off getting a higher-rated softener that consumes less salt in the long run. And it’s not just for financial reasons. More salt means more maintenance and cleaning, not to mention the environmental aspect of using water softeners in general. Basically, you’re not wasting only money, but time and physical effort as well.


How do you calculate water hardness?


The best way to determine how much grains per gallon of water hardness you have is to get a TDS kit.


This type of test kit will show you the total dissolved solids so you can understand what you are dealing with and what are the best solutions available for your hard water problems.


How many grains of water softener do I need?


Sizing a water softener depends on the water hardness level, how much water you use on a daily basis, and having the right amount of grains rating while minimizing the use of salt.


First and foremost, multiply the water hardness and daily water consumption habits.

  • Let’s say the hardness of your water is 10 GPG (grains per gallon). Most of the time, a person uses around 75 gallons of water daily.

So, if you have a family of four, the calculation method goes as follows:

4 People X 75 Gallons per day = 300 gallons per day => 10 grains per gallon X 300 gallons per day = 3000 grains per day.

Now consider the fact that softeners are made to regenerate once per week. As such, the next logical step is to multiply 3000 by 7 days, giving us 21,000 grains of total softening capacity.


Here comes the tricky part: determining what size water softener can output 21,000 grains weekly while consuming the most minimal amount of salt possible. The problem is that you won’t find all the necessary details online, and product descriptions can be quite misleading. In the next part, we will focus on how to spot the necessary details yourself and determine which device is more suitable for your needs.


How to size a water softener: finding the perfect balance


The most common water softener GPG sizes you will find online and in stores are:


  • 24,000
  • 32,000
  • 48,000
  • 64,000


Instinctively, you might think that the 24,000 models are best suited for your needs since we have determined a 21,000 weekly grain capacity is what you’ll consume. That’s far from the truth, however.


What retailers fail to mention is that most 24,000 GPG water softeners require 27 pounds of salt to fully regenerate due to the limited 0.75 cubic feet of resin. The softener indeed delivers on the marketed 24,000 GPG promise, but it takes a ton of salt to accomplish this, which dramatically increases the price and maintenance needs over time.


Instead, you might be more interested in a 32,000 GPG water softener because most of those models have one cubic foot of softening resin. Because of this, the system needs 36 pounds of salt to regenerate. However, and this is the big part that people don’t know, you can use just 6 pounds of salt in a one cubic foot system to generate 20,000 grains of softening capacity.


In conclusion, you’ll pay slightly more upfront for the higher capacity softener, but you’ll save significantly more money down the line. And because you won’t need as much salt, you’ll also need to worry far less about maintenance and cleaning. One more advantage is that your septic system and the environment will be far less polluted than by using the standard amount of salt that the softener would otherwise require.


water softener sizing


How to size a water softener – real efficiency guidelines


Now that you’ve learned to calculate the amount of resin a softener needs to work correctly in your home, there’s one more thing you should know.


The most accurate efficiency measurement for a water softener is measured in grains per pound of salt. Some districts in the US and Canada alike obligate manufacturers to state this exact measurement, while others do not.


If you live in a state that doesn’t require manufacturers or retailers to do so, consider asking them directly about this matter because this is the most accurate, efficient, and direct way to describe a water softener’s capabilities. It shows users the actual results a softener can give without misleading quotas.


In the unlikely case that a softener dealer refuses to acknowledge this measurement, you can always rely on the resin manufacturer. In any case, you’re best off looking for a dealership that acknowledges the grains per pound of salt measurement. A great dealership will also have the following type of measurements displayed upfront:


  • 75 Cubic Feet of Softener Resin = 15,000 Grains Capacity
  • 1 Cubic Feet of Softener Resin = 20,000 Grains Capacity
  • 5 Cubic Feet of Softener Resin = 30,000 Grains Capacity
  • 2 Cubic Feet of Softener Resin = 40,000 Grains Capacity
  • 3 Cubic Feet of Softener Resin = 60,000 Grains Capacity
  • 4 Cubic Feet of Softener Resin = 80,000 Grains Capacity


How to size a water softener – the downsides


Sizing a water softener isn’t all that hard once you take the time to learn all of the information mentioned above.


If you get the right capacity one for your needs, you’ll have a much easier time maintaining it and you won’t need to spend as much on salt.


However, even the softeners that fit your needs perfectly still add sodium to the water supply. This can greatly affect your septic system in the long run. And the impact of softened water on your health isn’t too attractive either.


In the debate between hard versus soft water, the latter is far more beneficial for appliances and fixtures. But hard water isn’t the devil in disguise either. Hard water has some impressive health benefits that you won’t get from the distilled or softened versions.


It would be nice to get the benefits of both hard and soft water without any of the negatives, right? Well, you might think that it’s impossible to do so because you’ve never seen a saltless water softener. But what if we told you that such devices actually exist? We have one to show you right now!


Discard the need to size a water softener


The best water softener alternative by far is a water descaler. And that’s for several reasons.


First off, a descaler doesn’t require any salt packs or other extra accessories that don’t already come inside the package.


Secondly, it doesn’t add any chemicals or reshapes the water’s structure in any way. It works by sending capacitive electronic signals inside the pipe and reshaping the hard mineral crystals in such a way that they no longer remain sticky.


It works on the principle of cathodic protection, which has been used for years and years in the industrial scene to protect metal pipes from corrosion and limescale formations. Because of this, you’ll get the benefits of both worlds without any of the downsides.


Furthermore, the descaler only requires electricity and nothing else to function properly. It’s not limited by GPG, water pressure, pipe material, or any other factors. And best of all, you don’t need to have any plumbing skills to install it.


Efficiency or your money back


You can purchase our water descaler here or on Amazon. No matter where you get it from, you’re covered by our one-year money-back guarantee.


Even better, you’ll also receive a ten-year warranty once you register the product on our website by using the order and serial number. Do note that depending on hardness, it might take up to three months to get visible results. That’s why we’ve included our money-back guarantee.


With the Yarna electronic water descaler, you’ll no longer need to worry about removing limescale from your tankless water heater or spending long hours cleaning all the hard mineral residue on bathroom fixtures.


Final thoughts


How a descaler works is simple yet intriguing. Because of all its benefits, you’ll no longer have to wonder how to size a water softener.


It’s a great tool not just for dealing with hard water, but also for keeping your septic tank safe and for becoming more environmentally conscious, which we think is a huge deal in our day and age.