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First-time travellers to Iceland are often shocked when they take their first Icelandic bath and feel puzzled by the strange smell after the long, warm but stinking shower in the land of fire and ice.
Icelanders are, as they should be, incredibly proud of their water source and can sometimes feel a bit butt-hurt when foreigners talk about its smell. Once you are out of the warm shower, however, you do not smell at all. The reason for this particular smell is because the hot water in Iceland sometimes smells of sulphur because of the geothermal origins of the warm water. The warm water comes from the ground and is supplied by geothermal power plants, it is ideal for bathing but not drinking. Due to this, Icelanders have hot and cold water from two different sources. The drinking water runs straight from our natural springs and is as we say, the best in the world. It is one of the purest and most refreshing water on the planet.
The fresh water is actually so clean that in Silfra fissure, which is known as one of the top dive sites in the world, you can actually drink the pristine water while you dive. Where and what is this place with some of the clearest water on earth? It is actually a crack, located in UNESCO World Heritage Site in Thingvellir, between the Eurasian and North American continents, the only crack on earth that allows you to dive between two continental plates. As if that was not enough, you will not go thirsty while doing so.
While Icelanders are blessed with showering in their source of warm water from the ground, they make even more use of it. Iceland is, in fact, a pioneer in the use of geothermal energy for space heating. After World War II, developments have been carried out that led to the use of geothermal resources for heating in the households. Today, approximately nine out of 10 Icelandic households are heated with geothermal energy.
There are many other benefits of the unique hot water source. Public bathing in outdoor swimming pools has been popular since Icelanders started to harness geothermal energy. The swimming pool culture is deeply rooted in the Icelandic people who enjoy their dark winter nights at public swimming pools in a warm jacuzzi with snowflakes hitting their face. Even famous historian Snorri Sturluson had his own thermal pool to soak in… during the 12th century!
Safe to say you can travel to Iceland and bath in the unique and pure water, even if it smells a bit, you can rest assured, it is cleaner than most other places on Earth.