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How to build an igloo

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

The best-known snow shelter is the igloo. A brilliant use of engineering and resources, this simple dome made out of snow blocks is both strong and versatile.


Arctic cultures such as the Eskimo and the Inuit developed it, and over time they came up with a hundred tricks to make the shelter more comfortable and sturdy, including making the entrance small (to help keep heat in) and melting the inside of the dome and letting it refreeze (for increased strength).

The earliest reference of igloo use came from the Vikings, who settled parts of Greenland and explored the eastern Canadian coast about a thousand years ago. They found natives living in igloos, but didn’t use them themselves because they considered the technology inferior.

History has proven otherwise, as the Vikings lasted for only about four centuries in the harsh climate of Greenland, while the native peoples are still carving igloos from the landscape today. Six hundred years after the tough Vikings were defeated by the tougher weather of the Little Ice Age, Boy Scouts still use the design of the igloo to keep warm.


igloo1Diameter: Not to exceed 10 feet. Anything bigger would require a perfect dome, which is next to impossible to construct in the field.

igloo2Materials: Top layers of dry powder won’t work. Pack mounds of snow until they harden, or cut blocks of snow from the depth where your feet stop sinking.

igloo3Entrance: Build a door in the ground, about 18 inches lower than the ground inside the igloo, and tunnel below the wall into the igloo. For proper ventilation, never seal or close the entrance.

igloo4Walls: Cut the blocks into a spiral layer, leaning one block against the next. Keep the interior wall smooth so moisture can run down the side of the wall, instead of dripping from the ceiling. Include a vent hole to allow for better circulation.

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25 Comments on How to build an igloo

  1. cool

  2. This is awsome it works

  3. it works

  4. awsome

  5. I can’t wait to make one….

  6. scoutsislife // May 26, 2009 at 3:26 pm // Reply

    why is the first layer start out with a slant i know it makes the other layers spiral. why does the spiral help with the moisture

  7. rocketman // May 26, 2009 at 2:54 pm // Reply

    awesome, just plain awesome!!!!

  8. i love it

  9. This Igloo Rocks!

  10. no snow here! but cool…

  11. We no have no more snow in NC.

  12. ninersfannatic // April 17, 2009 at 11:35 am // Reply

    lots of snow in colorado today! I’ll give it a shot cause it’s that wet heavy snow

  13. me and my friend are going to try these in canada

  14. I think it is Relly cool!

  15. it makes a good clubhouse to hide ur stuf in

  16. the snow already melted here in alpine NY

  17. This Really doesn’t work I tried it the sides were not next to eachother it looked terrible.

  18. sweet info

  19. weirdcollector // March 26, 2009 at 8:32 pm // Reply

    i’m going to use this for a school project. thanks Boy’s Life!

  20. wear some warm gloves and be safe

  21. to bild a igloo you need to have thick snow to bild a igloo. have good luck

  22. I want to try but my sister has to make a snow man SO I’ll get up eary.

  23. we never get snow in hawaii!!!

  24. if only texas got snow…

  25. i want snow

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