Water softeners regenerate by removing trapped contaminants and replacing them with either sodium or potassium depending on which chemical you put in the brine tank.
The following steps are involved with regeneration:
Backwash - 10 minutes
This step removed accumulated dirt and such while also fluffing up the media bed.
Brine rinse - 50 minutes ( and no less, as this is the most critical cycle )
This step floods the mineral bed with high concentrations of chemical and chases off the hard water minerals it gathered during normal operation. The high level of chemical also replaces the charge on the media to allow it to grab hard minerals again when back in normal use.
Rapid rinse - 10 minutes
This step removes the excess regeneration chemical from the mineral bed.
Settle rinse - 5 minutes
This step repacks the mineral bed to allow for proper flow of the water over the mineral bed during normal operation.
Brine refill - until it refills back to normal water level in brine tank ( 6 - 16 minutes ).
This step refills the bring tank with water to allow the chemical to dissolve and be ready for the next regeneration. You need at least 4 hours in between regeneration to be sure you have the proper concentration of regeneration chemical.
All water softeners can use either Sodium chloride or Potassium chloride pellets in the brine tanks. These pellets dissolve inn the brine water to make regenerant chemical.