How to Build Your Very Own Igloo
If you live in an area that has consistent snow all winter, creating an igloo is a fun and unique family project, especially on a snow day or if you're snowed in on a weekend. Only three things are really needed to create an igloo: an abundance of snow, a few tools and the right technique. Without these, your igloo may not be safe.
Creating an igloo is best done with two or more people. Experienced igloo builders can complete a small shelter in under an hour in the best conditions. If you are new to igloo building, be prepared to spend up to five hours on your first shelter creation.
Below is a very simple construction outline that is suitable for a backyard igloo project. If you are an outdoor enthusiast who wishes to learn the art of igloo building, this is a great place to start but should not take the place of instructions from a professional igloo builder.
Step 1 - Pick Your Spot and Cut Your Blocks
Find a flat location in the snow. The area should have at least 2 feet deep with well packed snow. Use a hand saw to cut a trench in the snow. Make the trench 2 feet wide, by 4 feet long, by 2 feet deep. This is the perfect size for a small igloo. Cut the snow inside the trench into blocks. Set the blocks out of the trench as you cut.
Step 2 - Start the Wall
Use your saw to lightly draw a circle in the snow around your trench. This will be your guide for the igloo walls. Place the first row of blocks flat along this line. Make sure they all fit as tightly together as possible. Do not leave a door opening, you will cut this out later. Pack snow in between the gaps all around the outside of the first row of blocks. Smooth the surface of the igloo and make sure there are no gaps.
Step 3 - Build Second Row
Cut more blocks of the trench as you go. If you run out of trench space, dig another row of blocks out from below. As you make the trench deeper, you make your floor lower so you will not have to make your walls as high. Stack the second row of blocks crossing over the seams of the first row of blocks. Lean these in slightly to the inside, to start to get the igloo curve. Make sure everything fits as tightly as possible. Pack snow in the gaps on the outside and smooth the surface with your hands or the back of your shovel.
Step 4 - Continue Up
Go inside the igloo ring. From now on you will be working from inside the igloo. If you have a partner working with you, you can have them fill the gaps on the outside. If not, you can do it after the main construction is done. Cut out more blocks as needed for the next row. Lay the third row the same as the second, angling in slightly and as tight as possible. Cut snow away from the blocks to make them fit better together if you need to.
Continue laying more rows of snow blocks until the opening left at the top is slightly smaller the size of one block.
Step 5 - Create the Cap and Vents
Push the last block through the hole carefully so it is sitting on top of the igloo. From inside, carefully cut snow away from that block, so it slides down into place. Once it fits tightly, stop cutting. Leave a few gaps between this block and the others so you can have some ventilation.
Step 6 - Cut the Door
Use your saw to cut a doorway that is just large enough for you to crawl through and no larger. If you have not already, fill in all the gaps except the top ones with packed snow and smooth the outer surface of the igloo with your hands or the back of your shovel.