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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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26 Comments on How to build an igloo

  1. If only I was able to get that much snow at home!!!!

  2. It sounds impossible!

  3. cool dude5000 // December 3, 2009 at 8:12 pm // Reply

    my brother thinks its boring.

  4. cool dude5000 // December 3, 2009 at 8:10 pm // Reply

    its sounds cool!


  6. confusing, but cool;)

  7. so awsome

  8. kool

  9. cool

  10. were it slants put an even block even to the one to the left of it

  11. Can’t wait for it to snow.

  12. cowntdowgylaw // August 31, 2009 at 3:43 pm // Reply

    I really want snow

  13. sounds confusing

  14. I’ll make one as soon as possible and use it in a snowball fight!

  15. Awsome & lil chily

  16. It will make a great fort.

  17. the best swimmer // August 26, 2009 at 7:02 pm // Reply

    and about how long does this take

  18. harderhusky // August 26, 2009 at 4:23 pm // Reply

    im gonna biuld this in camp

  19. awesomedudeiceman479 // August 26, 2009 at 4:08 pm // Reply

    i cant wait to try this the next time there is snow

  20. I prefer quinzees

  21. I would probably get claustrophobic if I had to sleep in an igloo.

  22. snowboardman // August 25, 2009 at 9:03 am // Reply

    i wish it was winter already

  23. fun!!!!!!!!!!

  24. cooi but not cool a nuff

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