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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. scouter123 // March 2, 2015 at 8:56 am // Reply

    Cool, when you have snow.

  2. wish we had more than 2 inches of snow :(

  3. COOL! But no snow in GEORGIA:(

  4. ChesseButterBall // January 15, 2015 at 10:27 am // Reply

    That is a amazing igloo. It shows how well it is made.

  5. Boo

  6. I agree with snowbird to. I really want to make a snow cave! It’s almost Chrismas! What do you guys think?

  7. IGLOOS ARE NICE TO MAKE WHEN YOU HAVE A LOT OF TIME, BUT FOR CAMPING, TRY MAKING A SNOW CAVE!

  8. it snowed 6 inches in my city

  9. Girls can do it too

  10. Jordyn & Rick // January 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm // Reply

    Really nice to know! Good effort.

  11. Tried this with my brother it works nice and warm inside

  12. kaka po po ka ka ka popo // December 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm // Reply

    cool it works me and my sis did it and it looks so cool

  13. That would probably work if it snowed more than 2 inches here!

  14. That’s so cool

  15. I kinda need 22” of snow for that.

  16. looks hard to make if you only get up 2 2ft of snow :)

  17. scienceman100 // October 22, 2013 at 7:54 pm // Reply

    awsome works great i love i do it every winter

  18. awesome geek // February 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm // Reply

    Awesommee! Dude best igloo making guide ever!! Whhoo hoo

  19. Cool, it seems to keep your body heat in it

  20. My boys used 1 gal ice cream buckets packed full of snow to build their igloo and it was so great the local paper published a picture of it.

  21. I hope OH gets a little more snow this year so that I can try this.

  22. pink and purple // January 26, 2013 at 7:41 pm // Reply

    That would be awesome(:

  23. it’s AWESOME!

  24. i cannot wait to try this!

  25. it is awesom that we get snow in Mi

  26. I would like to try it if we ever get enough snow Here in RI.

  27. Cheese Greater // January 22, 2013 at 7:29 pm // Reply

    I wish there was more snow here in Minnesota so I could try this

  28. Awsome, I used it and it worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. GoldenDragon // January 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm // Reply

    I wish it snowed in TX more. I would like to try it.

  30. never tryed it before:]

  31. TheTrainkinzbranch // January 5, 2013 at 7:47 am // Reply

    It snows alot here in MA

  32. Doesnt everyone wish there was snow in FL then on some days we wont have any school and only a whole day of playing in the snow and just having some fun

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