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Kiz_Paws Bag Of Trix

Igloos Are Awesome

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The igloo is an iconic structure recognized around the world. At once beautiful and strong, simple yet complex, the architecture of an igloo represents an ingenious use of nature’s materials to suit human needs.

An igloo (Inuit language: iglu) or "snow house" is a shelter constructed from blocks of snow, generally in the form of a dome. Although igloos are mainly associated with the Inuit people of Canada’s Arctic (as well as being found in Greenland), they are also part of the common Canadian identity. After all - even putting aside the occasional jokes about Canadians living in igloos – many children around the country have at some point tried making their own igloo-like structure in the winter.

It’s been decades since igloos were a common form of housing for the Inuit, but traditionally, they ranged in size from small, one-person overnight shelters to large ceremonial complexes linked by smaller igloos.

The igloo is renowned for its spiral dome and ability to protect those inside from the cold. The dome’s blocks are cut diagonally with a snow knife or rip saw, and gently slope inward toward the top of the roof. As for warmth, a well-built igloo with a soapstone lamp could bring the temperature up to around 0° C when it’s –40° C outside. Add a little body heat to the equation, and you’re perfectly comfortable.
Source of that quote: CBC Quote Source

Wikipedia adds:
The snow used to build an igloo must have sufficient structural strength to be cut and stacked in the appropriate manner. The best snow to use for this purpose is snow which has been blown by wind, which can serve to compact and interlock the ice crystals. The hole left in the snow where the blocks are cut from is usually used as the lower half of the shelter. Sometimes, a short tunnel is constructed at the entrance to reduce wind and heat loss when the door is opened. Due to snow's excellent insulating properties, inhabited igloos are surprisingly comfortable and warm inside. In some cases a single block of ice was inserted to allow light into the igloo.

Architecturally, the igloo is unique in that it is a dome that can be raised out of independent blocks leaning on each other and polished to fit without an additional supporting structure during construction. The igloo, if correctly built, will support the weight of a person standing on the roof. Also, in the traditional Inuit igloo the heat from the kulliq (stone lamp) caused the interior to melt slightly. This melting and refreezing built up an ice sheet and contributed to the strength of the igloo.

The sleeping platform is a raised area compared to where one enters the igloo. Because warmer air rises and cooler air settles, the entrance area will act as a cold trap whereas the sleeping area will hold whatever heat is generated by a stove, lamp or body heat.
And now for a real treat -- my brother (once again) sent me a bunch of pictures from the 'net regarding the construction of a 'mansion-style' igloo. I was so impressed, I HAD to show you them (sadly the source is unknown, as such things that get passed from one cyberfriend to the next). But if I ever find out, I'll credit the source in an update here. Without further adieu:

[EDIT -- I had to remove the pictures due to copyright issues, but you can Google Search for some really beautiful samples of igloo constructions.]

Aren't those the most awesome pictures? This home was truly built, but for how long it lasted... I could not say. I actually don't know how long an igloo is 'good' for. I have come to believe that they are seasonal, meant for the long bitter winter up North, but since people don't really live in them (modern times and all), I don't know. Worth looking into, as it is really part of the heritage of the place I call home.

And speaking of COLD ... yes, it is plenty cold here right now, as I 'speak'. With the winds blowing, we are at minus 47 Celcius. I think that THAT is too cold to be out there fashioning an igloo, don't you?

Till next time,

Updated 11-21-2008 at 01:05 PM by kiz_paws



  1. andave_ya's Avatar
    Oh wow, Kiz, those are amazing!! Functional ice sculptures? Fascinating! -47 Celsius!? Goodness! Freezing!! Here it's 62*F...that's...lemmesee...16.6*C? If I calculated right. Hope you're staying warm!!
  2. motherhubbard's Avatar
    Oh my goodness! Kiz I don't know how you do it. that's just too cold. Do you still have to go to work when it's so cold? How do you get out the door and start your car? -47C!! It was 40F here today and I've been wearing my coat in the house-true . I'm actually going to bed now just to get all covered up.
  3. mtpspur's Avatar
    When in North Dakota we had cars that had electrical cords attached to plug to use as engine heaters--I wonder sometimes if you have the same. The igloos reminded me of the qounset huts we used on Guam--the shape and interior looked remarkably alike. Another fine informative entry. I am often amazed at the variety of your interests.
  4. Sweets America's Avatar
    Wow, that is very beautiful! I think I heard once on TV that there were hotels like that. It is marvellous.
    Now, about the -47°C, where the heck do you live???
  5. pussnboots's Avatar
    those pictures were so cool (no pun intended)
  6. B-Mental's Avatar
    Awesome! I worked in an outside igloo bar...and I've dug my own snow shelters for camping in, but the igloo requires special consideration...very beautiful pics Kizzo.
  7. 1n50mn14's Avatar
    That is amazing! I so could never stay in an igloo though... even though 0 degrees plus body warmth is above freezing, I'm cold in 35 degree weather.
  8. Niamh's Avatar
    have you ever seen pics of the hotel in Sweden? every year they build it again out of ice. Its amazing. Would love to see it.
  9. 's Avatar
    Beautiful pics, Kiz. And at the bar they never need to worry that the drinks might be too warm ...
  10. kiz_paws's Avatar
    Well, since B lived in Alaska, maybe he can vouch for the way that things get when the mercury dips into the extremes (minus forties and then some). The smell in the air is a clean cold smell, now that is difficult to describe... And you can hear a pin drop from a mile away, honest to goodness. You can see the frost in the air in the early morning -- as in, you see the air that you are breathing, it glistens somehow ... very surreal sometimes.... Car exhaust takes on a whole new meaning -- in that chilly air, the car exhaust looks thick enough to slice with a knife... It is crazy cold. And I am crazy Kiz -- LOVIN' IT! Yeah, I really and truly do love it. I complain now and then, but I really don't mean to. I'd never leave. Never. Want to build me an igloo, wouldn't it be awesome? Oh, Niamh,
    Niamh: have you ever seen pics of the hotel in Sweden? every year they build it again out of ice. Its amazing. Would love to see it.
    if you go to the Pictures Taken By You thread here, Claes has posted one of those ice hotels from Kemi, Finland.... it was weird, because I posted my igloo entry, and he posted his hotel pictures (neat how two people came up with this idea of sharing the ice with the world ... or somethin' like that)
  11. ampoule's Avatar
    I lived in Alaska for nearly five years and loved it. It would get to 40 below zero easily and that was not the wind chill factor. I know that silence you speak of kiz.
    Beautiful pictures.