Full Guide to What Do Hot Springs Smell Like

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Welcome to a full and easy-to-understand guide on what do hot springs smell like.


We’ll go over the science behind hot springs, their smell, and why it is beneficial for your health and we’ll provide you inside tips and tricks on how to best enjoy hot springs!


Let’s get started.

The Science Behind ‘what do Hot Springs Smell like’

We must examine their composition in order to completely comprehend the aroma of hot springs.


As water is heated by the GEOTHERMAL energy of the Earth and then rises to the surface, hot springs are created.


The water picks up different MINERALS and sulfur compounds along the journey, which add to the distinctive odor.


The odor is also produced by bacteria and other microbes. They flourish in the hot, mineral-rich environment and disintegrate sulfur compounds to release flammable gases like hydrogen sulfide.


This gas is responsible for the infamous “ROTTEN EGG” smell often associated with hot springs. This is a dedicated page to the geothermal features of a hot spring.

Process behind hot springs

Several factors such as water temperature, mineral composition, and the presence of specific bacteria may influence the intensity of the odor.


Despite some hot springs having a stronger smell than others, the basic scent remains uniform across all.


Hot springs that we can recommend (and wrote a blog post about) are the Hrunalaug hot springs in Iceland.

Hot spring in Mammoth Lakes, United States
Hot spring in Mammoth Lakes, United States

Describing the Aroma: what do hot springs smell like?

To answer our main question ‘What do hot springs smell like’ is that the scent of hot springs can be quite potent and difficult to describe. It’s an earthy, sulfurous smell, reminiscent of rotten eggs, wet rocks, and minerals.


Some may even detect notes of boiled cabbage or burnt matches. The aroma can vary from one hot spring to another, depending on the specific combination of minerals and sulfur compounds present.


While the smell may be off-putting at first, many people grow to appreciate it as part of the hot spring experience. The scent serves as a reminder of the natural processes at work, creating a unique and immersive encounter with Mother Nature.

Crab Cooker Hot Springs, California, USA
Crab Cooker Hot Springs, California, USA

Understanding the Health Benefits

Hot springs are known for their therapeutic properties due to the presence of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. These minerals, absorbed through the skin, can help alleviate ailments such as arthritis, muscle aches, and skin conditions.

The unique scent of hot springs, which often resembles rotten eggs, wet rocks, and minerals, is due to the presence of these beneficial minerals. While the smell may not be pleasing to some, it’s a minor inconvenience when weighed against the multitude of health benefits that come from immersing oneself in these mineral-infused waters.

Hot springs have been revered as healing sanctuaries by cultures worldwide for centuries. This allure of hot springs is timeless and universal, as evidenced by ancient Roman baths and Japanese onsens, showcasing how their health-enhancing attributes are cherished globally.

What dot hot springs smell like?
Hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, United States

Cultural Perceptions and Reactions

Different cultures have varying attitudes toward what do hot springs smell like. In some places, the aroma is seen as a sign of the water’s potency and is embraced as an essential part of the experience. In others, it may be regarded as a necessary inconvenience that comes with enjoying the benefits of the springs.


There are countless stories and beliefs surrounding the aroma of hot springs. For example, some Native American tribes believed that the smell was a sign of the Earth’s life force, while in Japan, the scent is often associated with purification and renewal.


As more people visit hot springs worldwide, there’s a growing appreciation for the unique smell and the natural processes that create it.


Tips for Enjoying Hot Springs’ Aroma

If you’re planning to visit a hot spring, it’s essential to mentally prepare for the distinctive smell.


Here are some tips to help you cope with the odor and make the most of your experience:

  1. Be open-minded: Embrace the aroma as part of the overall hot spring experience, and try to appreciate its connection to the natural world.
  2. Breathe through your mouth: If the smell becomes overwhelming, try breathing through your mouth instead of your nose.
  3. Focus on the positive aspects: Concentrate on the soothing warmth of the water, the beautiful surroundings, and the health benefits you’re gaining from the experience.

What do hot springs smell like?


The answer to our question ‘what do hot springs smell like’, was the smell of sulfur, reminiscent of rotten eggs, wet rocks, and minerals.


This distinct smell of hot springs may be surprising at first, but it’s an integral part of the experience that connects us to the natural world.


As you soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters, let the aroma transport you to a place of relaxation, healing, and rejuvenation.


We encourage you to embrace and appreciate the unique scent of hot springs during your next visit.


And don’t forget to share your experiences with us – we’d love to hear your thoughts on the unforgettable aroma of these natural wonders!

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Laura & Alexander

Laura & Alexander

We're two full-time Belgian travellers sharing our experience through our blog. Our aim is to inspire your next travel adventure with our best tips and tricks from every country we visit.

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