What Does The Grain Meaning In Water Softeners?

If you’ve been looking at water softeners all over the internet, in every big box store and even at your local “Mom & Pop” water treatment store you may have come across terms such as 30,000 grain or 32,000 grain that you have no idea what they mean. But that’s actually a very misleading way to describe a water softener’s capacity. 

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First, it’s important to understand that the term “grains capacity” refers to the number of grains of hardness that a water softener is designed to remove from your water before it needs to regenerate. So a water softener that is rated to remove 30,000 grains of hardness before it regenerates should be able to remove enough hardness from your water to keep your appliances, fixtures, and skin soft without needing to regenerate itself. 

A water softener consists of a resin tank where hard water passes through an ion exchange process where the calcium and magnesium in the water are swapped for salt and potassium ions. This process is performed by tiny beads of ion exchange resin that are located in the tank. 

Once the hard water passes through the resin, it is then sent to the brine tank where salt is added. This is done to replace the ions of calcium and magnesium in the hard water with sodium ions (salt). The salt is then returned to the resin tank through a valve. 

Typically, the resin is designed to be regenerated with salt, but you can achieve greater efficiency by setting the softener to use less salt during regeneration cycles. This reduces the amount of salt required to soften your water and saves you money on salt and salt-related maintenance expenses. 

The salt you use is based on a specific formula that the resin manufacturer provides. It’s important to note that the amount of salt you use in your regeneration cycle will impact the resin’s ability to soften the water, so you should always read the owner’s manual carefully to make sure you’re using the correct salt. 

A good rule of thumb is to use one-third the amount of salt you’re regenerating with for every two-thirds of your system’s maximum softening capacity. This approach will result in a softener that uses less salt to treat your water than the unit’s GR figure indicates, which can be very beneficial to you and your family. 

When determining your water softening needs, it’s also important to consider the amount of iron that is present in your water. Iron can cause your water to become harder, which can also require you to use more salt. If you have iron in your water, it’s best to select a unit with a larger grain capacity that can hold enough resin beads to properly soften the water without getting exhausted. 

To determine the right size water softener for your home, the most important step is to determine how much water your household consumes on a daily basis. This is easy to do when you have your water bill on hand, as it should include a graph of the number of gallons your household used per day.