What Does the Grain on Water Softeners Mean? 

A water softener is a device that removes hardness from water. This is usually done using a method called demand regeneration. Demand regeneration works by monitoring the amount of water that is used each day. Then it regenerates as needed. Some softeners are designed to regenerate as often as every day, while others regenerate as infrequently as once a week. 

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Water softeners are typically measured in grains. Each grain is a 1/7000th pound of dissolved calcium or magnesium. These minerals are present in water, so if there is more than one grain per gallon, then the water is soft. However, the more grains per gallon that are present, the harder the water is to soften. 

Grain capacity, however, is not the most important sizing criterion. In fact, it is often overshadowed by other sizing criteria. Those other sizing criteria include the flow rate and pressure of the device. For instance, a softener that is rated to handle a certain amount of water per day might not be as effective as one that can handle the same amount of water at a higher flow rate. 

Typically, the more you use your water softener, the more salt it will consume. This is a good rule of thumb, but not always true. If you have a large family, or if your water is very hard, you may need a more substantial unit. Also, it is important to remember that the number of times the device regenerates is a factor in determining the amount of salt it uses. Ideally, it should only regenerate three days a week. Excessive regeneration will reduce the life of the device and ingest too much salt. 

However, the most accurate measurement of efficiency is grain per pound of salt. Salt consumption can be as high as 2,000 pounds of salt a year if the softener is operated in the wrong way. You can reduce the amount of salt you need to operate the device by choosing a water softener that is sized properly. 

It is also important to understand that a water softener’s ability to remove hardness depends on the hardness level of your untreated water supply. For example, if your water is extremely hard, then it will take a larger softener to do the job. And if you have a very small household, you may not need a huge unit. Instead, you should choose a softener based on its maximum grain capacity. 

Water softeners can be sized based on other factors as well. The size of the household and the frequency of water usage are two examples. Using a water softener calculator is an easy way to find out the correct grain capacity to buy. Once you know the number of gallons of water you use each day, you can calculate how many grains of hardness your water should have. 

As you can see, the “grains on water softeners” might be a strange term to non-industry people. Nonetheless, it is an important concept to understand and should be taken into consideration when shopping for a new softener.