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When we describe water as "hard," it is because it is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. Although hard water is not a health risk, it can be a problem because of mineral buildup on fixtures. Deposits of trace elements of these minerals cling to pipes and faucets over time. Hard water also contributes to poor soap and detergent performance. These same minerals interact negatively with the ingredients in the detergents, keeping them from functioning properly.