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Igloo

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Igloo
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Igloo

An igloo (Inuktitut iglu / ᐃᒡᓗ, "house"), translated sometimes as snowhouse, is a shelter constructed from blocks of snow, generally in the form of a dome. Igloos are most commonly associated with the indigenous Inuit of Canada's far north, where they were used as temporary shelters by hunters during the winter.

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 insulative properties, inhabited igloos are surprisingly comfortable inside.

Missing image
Igloo_see-through_sideview_diagram.png
Igloo, Sideview diagram: opening to the right yellow signifies ground

Central Eskimos, especially those around the Davis Strait, line the living area with skin, which can increase the temperature within from around 2C to 10-20C.

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 existing supporting structure.

Because "igloo", or iglu in standard orthography, is simply the Inuktitut word for a house of any kind, since the twentieth century a snowhouse in Inuktitut is frequently called an igluvigaq, or igluvigait in plural, in distinction.

Other kinds of snowhouses

For fun, or for winter camping and survival purposes, it is possible to construct a simpler but similar kind of snow shelter by simply creating a large pile of snow and excavating the inside. The snow need not be of the same quality, and the construction is easier (less experience needed). Such shelters are usually not as sturdy and permanent as proper igloos.

A nice trick to make the building of a snowhouse much quicker and less labour intense is to first make a pile of (cardboard) boxes and then cover the box pile with snow. Then cut open "the door" and pull out the boxes. This means one needs to use much less snow or one can build a much bigger snowhouse. (Old cardboard boxes can usually be acquired at the local supermarket if one asks nicely.)

To make the snowhouse much more robust and safer it is recommended to pour water over it so it gets covered in ice. This makes it harder and sturdier and also makes it slippery, which discourages kids from climbing on top of if. Kids climbing on the house are usually the only reason why snowhouses collapse. A collapsing snowhouse can be very dangerous if kids get caught inside. (By the way, pour the water after pulling out the boxes since it is very hard to cut open a door in an icy house.)


See also

de:Iglu fr:Igloo he:איגלו it:Igloo nl:Iglo

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