Building an igloo

Can anyone help me with the scientific principles involved in building an igloo? I know it’s not as simple as you might think.
( No kidding, I really want to do this! )

when I was a kid, we would collect old boxes, pack the snow in as tight as possible, and just stack bricks of ice like building a sand castle. The igloo would last well into spring, long after all the other snow has melted.

If you want an ‘anatomically correct’ igloo, the material you need is (lack of a better word) crispy snow. It’s not sticky and it feels porous. When you cut it with a sharp object it just holds its shape. Carve bricks and put them in a circle. Carve the upper part of the first row in a slope so that you can build row upon row in a smaller and smaller circle. Add one big round piece at the top. Leave an opening for the smoke if you plan to make a fire inside.

You can use hard-packed snow, but you loose a bit of the isolation that crispy snow gives to an igloo. That’s because the isolation comes from the small pockets of air trapped in the snow. When you pack it, you crush the pockets.

I love winter camping.

Do you mean insolation?

Yer pal,

I’m going to guess that he meant insulation.

Nah, he meant “isolation.” ]

If you lived in an igloo, you’d be lonesome, too.


I believe you can pick up one of those Instant Igloo Kits at your local Home Depot. Comes with interactive CD manual, all you need is water and a few common tools. The decorative, and useful, patio deck, is optional.

“…send lawyers, guns, and money…”

 Warren Zevon