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Facts about igloos

Igloos are houses made out of snow. Traditionally built to protect Native Indian tribes (most notably the Inuit and Canadian tribes) while on hunting trips, igloos have become associated with all things icy and snowy. In fact, some people attempt to build igloos after a big snowfall!

Building an igloo is a good way to stay warm in the snow!
Building an igloo is a good way to stay warm in the snow!Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Traditionally, igloos are one-room dwellings. They are formed in a round dome-like shape with a small tunnel-like entrance on one side. The people who used igloos for shelter were expected to build a fire inside the dwelling to stay warm so igloos also have a smallish hole at their very top in order to let the smoke from the fire escape. In rare cases, some igloos were even built with windows made from a block of ice or a seal’s gut.

Historically, the term “igloo” comes from the Inuit word “iglu” which means “house.” A skilled Inuit could build an igloo in about an hour using only a spade and a saw as tools (originally these tools were made out of animal bones). If formed correctly, a full grown man can stand on top of an igloo without causing it to collapse! Furthermore, igloos have also been proven able to withstand hurricane force winds!

In a 1922 film titled “Nanook of the North” there is a scene that depicts an actual igloo being built! The film, and the igloo section, can both be seen on YouTube. Anyone who finds it fun to build igloos in snowy weather will probably find the film clip interesting too.