Travelled to 7 countries / regions

Written 19 briefs
Just got back from an 8-day road trip in Iceland



Europe > Iceland > Useful Info
Updated on Nov 08, 2018 Useful Info

The hot water smell in Iceland

  • One of the first things I noticed when I got to Iceland was the distinct, and ubiquitous smell of its hot water
  • If you've never smelled it before, you might think it's sewer, rotten egg, or fart
  • Every single restroom and showers I used in Iceland during my 8 days there had this smell. Although I imagine on high end hotels they might try to get rid of it
  • Even though the smell is awful, it's completely natural and isn't due to plumbing issue (my gf thought sewer got mixed in)
  • The smell is from the sulfur dioxide in the hot water, which is pumped from deep underground from geothermal sources (i.e. water heated by volcanic magma chambers deep within earth) and distributed directly for use. Because of this origin, there are lots of minerals in the water. Sulfur dioxide isn't toxic in water (it is in gas form though)
  • That being said, don't drink the hot tap water in Iceland. You can drink the cold tap water there because it comes from the springs, but hot water isn't recommended for drinking due to the high mineral content. There are some exceptions like on the Reykjanes Peninsula (KEF airport, Blue Lagoon area) where hot water comes from ground water instead of geothermal sources, but as a rules of thumb just avoid drinking hot tap water anywhere in Iceland and you'll be fine