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How to build an igloo

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.

THE MOST FAMOUS SNOW SHELTER

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.

BUILDING AN IGLOO

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.

216 Comments on How to build an igloo

  1. I WISH IT SNOWED IN FLORIDA.

  2. We don;t have enough snow here in central Oregon yet. ;)

  3. Wish it snowed in california :(

  4. Cool :l

  5. WOW!!!!!!!!! IT’S SNOWING HERE IN THE MITTEN!!!! Won’t be long before this masterpiece is possible :D :D :D !!!! :) ;)

  6. live in pa, didn’t get snow yet:(

  7. Billy Bob Joe // December 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm // Reply

    come to Michigan!,!,!,!

  8. awesome man 11 // December 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm // Reply

    utah gets the BEST SNOW EVER!!!!

  9. can not wait for snow!!!!!!!

  10. Is there any way to build one without making bricks out of snow?

  11. replying to powerking you buy snow block molds at target or walmart

  12. Love it !!!

  13. i realy want to try this! i live in pennsylvania so i hope we get snow this year

  14. burbur2002 // July 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm // Reply

    cool! i’m going to try it when we get snow. we get a lot of snow here in Michigan!

  15. it sounds so cool but how do you make the cubes.

  16. It does not snow where I live so that’s a buumer

  17. Can’t wait until it snows in Minnesota

  18. This looks awesome but i live in suburban L.A. SO IT NEVER SNOWS AND I’LL NEVER GET TO TRY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!-

  19. awesome

  20. i dont get it at all

  21. blabber mouth bro // January 8, 2012 at 11:48 am // Reply

    this sounds cool

  22. Two years ago I was building a snowfort when my friend stuck her arm through the roof to “Make an air hole” and the whole roof collapesed.

  23. I live in Kansas it hasn’t snowed yet but I can’t wait for Christmas!!!

  24. Looks awesome I will try it once we get more snow.

  25. that looks awesome!!!

  26. lego man 22222222222221 // November 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm // Reply

    cool looks fun !!!!!!!!

  27. I am soo going to use this for my school project!!!

  28. i want winter to come now!

  29. It barely snows in Houston.I live in Houston!!!!:(

  30. question is can you make it bigger

  31. magicfreak // July 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm // Reply

    get around more, peeps! just look in the archive!

  32. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Nobes Lite // March 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm // Reply

    I have also always wonderred this. Thanks :D

  34. i have a yard of snow in MA

  35. we just had 8 inches of snow here in missouri…and we built a big ice fort probably 5 feet tall with a diameter of 5 feet…never could get the roof tho. so you can do it with less than 5 feet people.

  36. I am a sith // January 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm // Reply

    I wish I knew this before it snowed!

  37. look’s good I’ll trie it

  38. It hasn’t snowed here yet so I cant build it,but it looks really cool! I can’t wait to build one!

  39. Swamp Thing GO SAINTS // November 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm // Reply

    i wish i was able to at least build an igloo where i am at lol

  40. it is hard, takes lots of snow, but i think you will like the outcome.

  41. Absolutely fantastic!

  42. a fat hamster // November 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm // Reply

    cool

  43. I wish I knew about this in the Febuary snow storm 2010.

  44. square knot // October 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm // Reply

    even though I’m not claustrophobic, thats how I would feel crawling through that little opening going underground! wouldn’t you?!?!

  45. one time me and my friend made a little igloo and when we got in it it fell apart on us :o so we couldn’t breath in the snow and we climbed out and gasping for air. shocking isn’t it. :)

  46. ninja man sam // September 23, 2010 at 8:25 pm // Reply

    i wanna make one and start a fire in it and roast mashmallows

  47. like,awsome!!!!!!!!!!

  48. people have died from building entrances like that

  49. actioncircus // August 27, 2010 at 6:00 pm // Reply

    iv always wanted to know how to build an igloo

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