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Building an Igloo

The igloo is a snowhouse that was used by the Inuit as a temporary shelter on extended winter hunting trips, but not as a permanent home. An igloo can be built in about twenty to thirty minutes - depending on the quality of the snow and the skill of the builder. Click for more information.

Blocks of snow are cut from snow banks using a snow knife and are arranged in the shape of a dome - not row upon row, but rather in a single spiral. Joints are filled in with snow and a hole is cut for ventilation.

The best snow comes from a snowbank formed by a single snowstorm. Blocks taken from snowbanks formed over a series of storms tended to break easily because of the layers within the snow.

Click for more information. Snow knives, used to both cut and trim blocks of snow, were made of bone or ivory and often had a slight curve to the blade. Following the introduction of metal to the Arctic by Europeans, the Inuit began making snow knives with single-edged steel blades.

Snow is a good insulator. 10 inches / 25 cm of fresh uncompacted snow can insulate about as well as a 6 inch / 15 cm layer of fiberglass insulation, making it a very good material for building a shelter.

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Library: Snow, Inuit
Cold / Cold Places, Arctic
Links: Inuit, Arctic, Cold Places
Building an Igloo
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports


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Arctic Library ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
All sorts of Arctic Maps ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
Links to related sites. ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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