Being born and raised in Minnesota, I’ve built my fair share of snow forts. We got snow block makers for Christmas and even tried to build an igloo several times. We were never able to get the structure right or got tired and decided to go in before it was completed. Not only have I wondered how they are built, but I’ve also wondered how to stay warm inside a snow made structure.
Building shelter with what’s available is what survival is all about. In most cases, there won’t be a Gander Mountain available to get supplies from when you’re out where you’ll need to build an igloo. When living in frozen environments, snow is one thing that is readily available, so it is good that we can make shelter out of it.
Igloos were originally built by the Inuit as temporary hunting shelters or in emergency situations. There’s a lot of science involved in how these structures stay warm. To build it, they take snow that has been compacted by the wind and cold and cut the building blocks. The air pockets that are made when the wind packs the snow creates insulation from the weather. In the space where the blocks are cut, they create the sunken floor.
Fires are lit in the middle of the igloo. When it is built, a small hole is left in the top of the igloo to let the smoke out. And the beds are built into the walls up towards the ceiling where heat rises and the cold falls to the bottom of the sunken floor. The temperature is about 20° inside, but when temperatures can be -50° outside, I’d rather be inside.
It was interesting to me how many commercial products that relate to cold are made by a company named Igloo. When I googled the word igloo, many links came up for coolers. Funny how igloo shelters are built to keep the heat in, but coolers are made to keep the heat out.
The word Eskimo is seen as a very derogatory name for the people native to the areas where they live in Canada, Northern Alaska and Greenland. In the Algonkian language it means “eaters of raw meat”. Inuit is the new word for Eskimo.
It has been said that the Inuit live in igloos. This is a kind of a misnomer. Igloo means house, so technically they do live in an igloo. However, the houses we think of being igloos are made of snow. These are only temporary shelters. They also build them for fun and to hand down the survival knowledge to their children.
Igloos are an interesting house option. Do you think it would be fun to live in a house made of snow?