How to Make an Igloo Dome

How to Make an Igloo Dome
The dome-shaped igloo can serve as a warm winter shelter, if you happen to get caught out in an arctic climate with no other viable shelter. It takes a bit of work and technique, but once you get the hang of it, it should go smoothly. Building an igloo is also a fun activity that kids will love, so you don't have to be in immediate need of shelter to enjoy your igloo skills.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Snow saw Snow knife or machete Open area with hardpacked snow Snow spade or shovel Extra gloves
  • Snow saw
  • Snow knife or machete
  • Open area with hardpacked snow
  • Snow spade or shovel
  • Extra gloves
Step 1
Find the snow. You'll be cutting out large blocks of snow, so you need a field of snow that's solid and packed down. Brush off any layers of loose powder and try probing the snow with a stick to find the best place to start or simply begin cutting a block to find snow that is sturdy enough.
Step 2
Mark your circle. You want to make your circle as round as possible. Delineate it with a stick or by walking around and stomping your feet. The circle should be 10 feet or less in diameter.
Step 3
Stomp the ground in the circle to ensure the igloo floor is good and firm.
Step 4
Cut blocks from the snow field adjacent to your circle using the snow saw. The size of blocks will vary but about half a foot to a foot thick will work well. Use the spade or shovel to pull each block out of the snow.
Step 5
Begin creating your base by lining the blocks in the circle that you designated. Fit them together as snugly as possible. Use the knife to carve the blocks so they fit together better.
Step 6
Bevel the blocks. Once you've made the first full row, you'll want to angle the blocks so that they're sloping upward as they go around. You also want the tops of the blocks angled slightly inward toward the inside of the igloo. This is the basis of the igloo structure; if the blocks were left flat, you'd be building a circular fort with no roof. Angling the blocks in this way will create a spiral that will converge toward a single point on the middle of the roof.
Step 7
Stack the next layer, while continuing to shape and angle the blocks so that they fit snugly together. Remember to continue angling upward and inward so you can continue your spiral. As you go, blocks can get smaller and smaller. Try to stack blocks in such a way that each block is on top of two blocks below it.
Step 8
Continue stacking blocks in this fashion until you have just a small hole at the top. From the inside of the igloo push one last block that is larger than the hole through and cut it to size so that it plugs in that last hole securely. It should be firmly secured against all the blocks around it so that it will provide the needed structural support.
Step 9
On the outside of the igloo, fill in the cracks between the blocks with snow.
Step 10
Inside the igloo smooth out the walls by rubbing them with your hands. This is where the extra gloves will come in handy!
Step 11
Create an entrance. The igloo's not doing you much good if you can't get in it. You can dig an entrance tunnel and cut away a small dome-shaped part of the igloo over your tunnel to allow for entrance.
Step 12
Make sure the igloo has ventilation and cut any ventilation holes needed.

Tips & Warnings

 
To make blocks stronger, allow them to sit in the wind before stacking. An igloo can be a lengthy process, so delegate work whenever possible and get as many people involved as you can. Shovel any loose snow and debris out of your igloo as you work so that you don't have to get it out after you're closed in. If you're in need of shelter and don't have access to the hard snow required for an igloo, consider making an alternate form of shelter like a snow cave.
 
To make blocks stronger, allow them to sit in the wind before stacking.
 
An igloo can be a lengthy process, so delegate work whenever possible and get as many people involved as you can.
 
Shovel any loose snow and debris out of your igloo as you work so that you don't have to get it out after you're closed in.
 
If you're in need of shelter and don't have access to the hard snow required for an igloo, consider making an alternate form of shelter like a snow cave.
 
Do not cook in your igloo without establishing appropriate ventilation or you could suffer carbon monoxide poisoning.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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