When we think about igloos, it’s natural to feel skeptical about how a structure built of ice can be keep you warm. But it’s true – even when the temperature outside is -50 degrees F (-46 degrees C), temperatures inside the igloo can go up to 60 degrees F (16 degrees C)! The fact is that snow and ice have properties which keep the occupants of the igloo warm.
Igloos are built with large blocks of fry, hard snow. The blocks are stacked together, and as the structure grows upwards, these blocks start leaning inwards.
The final block is fitted in place at the top to seal the four inward leaning walls.
A narrow entrance is attached to the front of the igloo, and is large enough for one person to enter at a time.
Ice is a bad conductor of heat. Any heat generated from inside the igloo, usually from body heat or a small fire, stays inside. A fire inside an ice structure? Won’t that melt the igloo? The warmth inside the igloo does melt the inner layer of snow and ice, but the air outside–often much colder than the air inside–freezes it back. The result is an additional sheet of ice on the interior walls, which adds to the insulation!
An igloo can be big enough for one person to crawl inside, or can be a large dome enough for 20 people to live in together.
The word igloo actually means “home” in Inuit… which means that the igloo can actually be of wood, cement or stone and does not necessarily have to be of ice. It’s just a common misconception known to the general public that an igloo has to be made of snow and ice blocks.