Water bottle factory San Narciso in Caldes de Malavella
My first visit to Caldes de Malavella back in September 2012 was very quick, however more memorable than any short visit anywhere else in the world. The small town famous for its thermal water, ancient Roman baths, archaeological site Camp dels Ninots and Balneari Prats hotel is quite remarkable, I must say.
It was there when I got to see the behind the scenes of the whole process of getting thermal water with CO2 and then pouring it into bottles for sale. Caldes, such a little town, can be proud of now 3 water bottle factories, Vichy, Caldes de Malavella and San Narcisco.
I had a chance to go all around water bottle factory San Narciso in Caldes de Malavella with Josep who told me all the secret stories 🙂
The water bottled in San Narciso comes from natural resources and is radioactivity free (the resources were below the surface before 1943 so the nuclear bomb attacks in 1943 and 1944 didn’t affect its quality).
”The natural thermal water with light CO2 bubbles in Caldes is mostly 22,000 years old here with a minority of 10,000 year old water sources.” my mouth opened wide when Josep decided to give us one of the most important facts about San Narciso water.
It is the mentioned fact that brings the US market interest in San Narciso water and hopefully in the near future you will be able to buy the San Narciso mineral water also in the US and not only mostly in Catalonia.
”The competition makes me stronger” continued Josep who reminded me of how we all should consider our hundreds of ”enemies” in the travel blogging world.
This is also how Josep together with his colleague came up with an idea of selling BO tonic water in small glass bottles. Just recently they started making 4 different tonic waters – dry (normal flavour), citrus, flowers and fruits. They are all of different flavour, colour and taste. The three of them are 100% natural, the citrus tonic water is of blue colour and there are no herbs in the nature that could give blue colour to the water so bergamot was added which makes it still 99% natural.
The genius guys invented the colourful tonic waters with one ingredient giving a taste to it and a different one giving it a colour. Just after launching the tonic waters the San Narciso already won a prize with them. As other San Narciso waters they also come in glass bottles because in Spain the rule in luxury restaurants is to serve the glass bottles, not the plastic ones.
After a walk through the factory with the noise of machines and bottles between the scattered broken glass on the ground, Josep took us outside just a few metres to the Water Square (Plaza de Agua) with two of the few public thermal water streams.
The law says that every factory in the town, including San Narciso, has to leave a certain amount of thermal water for the town inhabitants and visitors which can be drank here at the square from the fountains.
Then Josep unlocked a door and let us enter to a very special place. Tourists won’t get here. Araceli and Cristina, 2 locals from Balneari Prats accompanying me on the tour had never visited this place before.
Thank you, my travel blogger job, for getting me into secret places!
Inside the building of the San Narciso office we spotted something that looked like a huge half ball. It was the stream of thermal water getting out there from the underground. Containing spicy CO2 which makes it a bit difficult to breathe, the source is covered with a plastic half ball in the middle of a room.
On the other side of the room covered with saltpeter, next to the staircase, you can easily see the CO2 bubbling out of the thermal water here. It is also protected with a glass window because people used to wash their hands and face there years ago and thus leave dust in the stream which is used for potable water.
Upstairs we could have a look at the machine that extracts the water from the ground. This small and simple machine gets 1,500 litres of water per hour? I could not believe my eyes!
Josep also gave us more details about the process of getting 58 – 60 °C thermal water from the underground and than cooling it down to 3.8 °C within 5 minutes to add more CO2 into it (it is not possible to add it when the water is warm). More CO2 is added for a better digestion.
The end of our visit was the funniest part of the whole tour. Every 2 years San Narcsio bottles are kept to remember the labels. In a box falling apart next to the steps together with some labels on the racks we observed old label stamps used many years ago.
”Hasta el cerdo le sentara mejor. Hasta la suegra le sentara mejor.” said two of the old San Narciso labels. I laughed at their double meaning: ”Even a pig will feel better after drinking San Narciso/even pork will feel better in your stomach after drinking San Narciso. Even your mother-in-law will feel better if you drink San Narcisco. Even you will feel better about your mother-in-law if you drink San Narciso.”
My visit to San Narciso in Caldes de Malavella was organized by Balneari Prats. Many thanks to them! However, all the opinions in the post are my own.