How to Build an Igloo

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By Scott Cimini on February 28, 2012, 12:00am

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How to Build an Igloo

I recently wrote an article about the history of the igloo and its uses in society dating back thousands of years. One thing I never elaborated on was how to actually build one. In 8 easy steps, I will show you how to make an igloo out of ice and snow. It takes the average person 3-6 hours to build an igloo depending on your previous experience and level of ambition.

Tools Needed
Snow Shovel
Snow Mold or something rectangular to mold the snow
Machete (to mold the snow)

Step 1 : Location, Location, Location

To make an igloo you’ll need a lot of snow and preferably not the powdery kind. If the only snow you have is powdery, then you'll have to add a little water. First, make a circle on the ground marking where the base of the dome is going to be. I like to visualize in my head what the igloo is going to look like and it usually helps me line everything up better later on.

Step 2: Make Sturdy Block Molds

Make large snow block molds or use something rectangular in shape with no top or bottom. It’s really easy to make a rectangular box out of plywood.

Step 3: Be A Block Head

Fill the molds with snow and pack them good. Make large thick snow blocks for the base of the igloo. Later you will use a smaller mold to make the blocks that will go near the top of the igloo. The harder the snow is packed, the stronger the igloo becomes.

Step 4: Build, Build, Build

Take your snow blocks and line them around the circle that you traced on the ground with your stick earlier. After the first row is complete, start row two and stagger the blocks. Keep doing this with each layer and tilt the blocks inward each time so that a dome is formed. Make sure to layer your larger bricks on the bottom and as your progress upward use your smaller bricks. *TIP* It is much easier to build an igloo with two people because when you stack the blocks, one person is inside and one outside to gauge the angles.

Step 5 : Make the “Roof”

Make a cap brick that is slightly larger than the hold on top of your igloo. Because of its weight and to reduce the chances of the cap breaking, two people should lift the brick up and set it on top of the igloo. Next, one person gets inside the igloo and trims the cap as needed until it fits nice and snug in the hole.

Step 6: Crack Kills

Fill the cracks and holes with snow and pack it in as tightly as possible. Smooth out the inner dome as much as possible and carve longitudinal grooves inside to allow the melting snow to flow downward without dripping on your head.

Step 7: Make a Grand Entrance

Dig down to make an entrance to the igloo. If you build it on a gentle slope, then the entrance hole can tilt slightly upward into the cave. This allows cool air to fall out through the entrance and keep the warmer air inside.

Step 8: Finish the Job

Drip water over the top of the igloo at night before going to sleep. Overnight, the water will freeze and strengthen the walls. Another great way to make your igloo stronger is to poke a hole in the top of the igloo and light a candle. The heat from the candle will partially melt the inside of the igloo before refreezing into ice making your walls even stronger.

Thanks for reading and good luck making yours!


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Scott Cimini

Town: Wallingford, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since January 2012.

Articles: 149

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