Iceland’s geothermal water is famous all around the world. But the smell can take some people by surprise. (Don’t worry, you’re not imagining things. The water sometimes does smell a bit like farts in Iceland!)
This article will explain why the water can have an eggy smell in Iceland. We will also tell you about which water you can drink in Iceland safely, how to deal with smelly hot springs, and how to avoid filling up your water bottle with anything too stinky.
Let’s get started!
Is Icelandic Tap Water Safe To Drink?
Firstly, you should know that Iceland’s tap water is safe to drink. The vast majority of our tap water comes from natural springs, so you’ll probably be drinking ancient glacier meltwater right in your hotel. Unlike most countries, the water in Iceland isn’t mixed with chemicals like chlorine before making its way to your taps, so you don’t have to worry about your microbiome getting a hard time either.
Instead of putting chemicals in the drinking water, the Icelandic authorities are constantly testing water quality to know that it is safe. You just won’t see locals drinking much tap water because we think it’s massively overpriced and pointless. (Plus, the vast majority of plastic bottles end up in the ocean, and Icelanders tend to care quite deeply about the natural world).
But from a practical standpoint: why buy a plastic bottle of spring water when spring water flows in all the taps? Restaurants and cafes are happy to provide tap water to your table, and you’ll find public water fountains in the city to refill your bottle.
If you want to save money and act like a local on your next trip, you should bring an empty water bottle in your luggage to use while you are here. (Or you can buy one when you arrive, of course!)
Why Does Icelandic Tap Water Smell?
You may notice a slight sulfur smell when you are using the hot tap, but not the cold tap. This may seem pretty weird, but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation! Iceland’s hot water is heated using natural geothermal energy that comes from below ground. This warm water is meant for bathing rather than drinking.
So it’s not unusual for your bath or shower to smell slightly eggy in Iceland. (But once you get out of the shower, you will just smell clean!) The cold water comes directly from the pristine springs, and it doesn’t smell.
We do not recommend that you drink hot water from the taps in Iceland, particularly in Reykjavik. But this is a sensible idea everywhere because most people’s hot water sits in a boiler for a long time before it comes out of the tap. Just stick to the cold water tap for drinking water, and you’ll have no worries!
What Does Icelandic Tap Water Taste Like?
Iceland’s tap water tastes really good! If your water at home is heavily processed, you might be surprised by the idea that water can have a taste. But actually, water naturally takes on the taste of the rocks and minerals that it filters through.
As processing companies increasingly mix chlorine and other chemicals into the water, those tasty minerals are harder to detect. So don’t hesitate to try a glass of tap water while you are here, and take a moment to notice all the subtle flavors!
Why Do The Hot Springs In Iceland Smell Bad?
Like the water from the hot tap, the hot springs in Iceland heat up thanks to geothermal energy. That means they can smell like sulfur, which is commonly associated with eggs or farts.
Not all hot springs in the world have this smell, so it’s understandable if you are a bit taken aback the first time you encounter it. But it doesn’t mean the water is dirty! The smell comes from some of the minerals in the rocks that dissolve in the water.
People seek out mineral water for its health benefits. (You will absorb some of the natural minerals through your skin!) Besides, you’ll soon get used to the smell, and you won’t even notice it after a few minutes of kicking back in the hot water. Just hang on in there, and you’ll soon be on cloud 9!
Can You Drink Hot Spring Water In Iceland?
Don’t drink the water while you’re bathing in a hot spring. It’s no big deal if you accidentally swallow a mouthful while you’re swimming, but you shouldn’t attempt to quench your thirst with the geothermal water. That’s especially true in the small wild hot tubs in the countryside because they can build up quite a lot of bacteria by the end of the summer.
It’s important to stay hydrated if you’re in the hot water for a while, so do bring a bottle of tap water along with you.
Can You Drink Water From The Silfra Fissure?
You can drink water from the Silfra fissure while you’re diving or snorkeling there, which is one of the reasons it’s so famous. The water is so pure between the tectonic plates that you have incredible visibility, and the water is safe to drink as you go along! There are few places where you can explore the water between two continents, so divers shouldn’t miss the opportunity!
Is Icelandic water really from Iceland?
Just to confuse things even further, there’s a bottled water brand called Icelandic water. They do indeed get their water from Ölfus Spring on the South West Coast of Iceland. But if you’re in the country, you can get the same water quality straight from the tap. Save your money for something more useful!
Icelandic tap water is totally safe to drink. Just make sure you go for the cold tap instead of the hot tap, which can have a slightly eggy smell due to the geothermal heating process. You might notice this smell in the hot springs too, but it’s nothing to worry about. Iceland is renowned for its pure, mineral-rich water. We hope you get the chance to drink it and soak in it while you are here!
If you have any more questions about visiting Iceland, don’t hesitate to check out our free travel tips and guides. And if you’d like some help making the dream a reality, you can head over to our handpicked tours and start firming up your travel plans.
We look forward to welcoming you to Iceland soon!