How Does An Igloo Keep You Warm?

A person’s body heat is preserved within an igloo. Igloos are composed of compressed snow. Air, confined within the snow, acts as a good insulator and accounts for over 95% of the total.

how does an igloo keep you warm

This insulation prevents heat from escaping, keeping us toasty and comfortable.

Picture yourself exploring the Arctic tundra in the wintertime. It’s only natural to feel cold in the cold wind. In a panic, you glance about for someplace to take refuge, but all you see is pure white snow.

At last, a snow-built igloo comes into view! You walk inside the building, and, to your pleasant surprise, you begin to feel warm!

Even while cold snow is unpleasant to the touch, it makes a fantastic resource for building igloos, which are excellent at maintaining inside warmth.

Nonetheless, how? Why would you want to warm up to something that cold?

Certainly, the incredible qualities of snow and the design of an igloo have something to do with that.

How Does An Igloo Work?

Igloos are constructed from compacted snow. You cut it into building-block-sized pieces, then stack them around a circular, terraced hole in the icy ground.

Considering that snow is only semifrozen water, it is endlessly intriguing.

Its remarkable insulating characteristics make it a preferred shelter-building material for people and hibernating animals, such as bears and raccoons.

Solid ice is not as effective an insulator as compacted snow because ice is solid while snow is loaded with tiny air pockets.

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Even though it appears solid, up to 95% of snow is simply air trapped among microscopic crystals.

As a result of poor air circulation within the ice crystals, heat becomes trapped there.

What Is The Temperature Of An Igloo?

Using only body heat, a properly constructed igloo may generate a 40°C temperature differential between its inside and outside.

In research done by Rich Holihan and his colleagues, it was determined that the temperature inside an igloo near the bodies of individuals was around 36 degrees Celsius (310K).

In the air around the individuals, the temperature plummeted to about 16 °C (290 °K), and near the igloo’s walls, it was approximately one °C (275K).

In addition, the igloo becomes increasingly warmer as its population increases.

Even if 16oC or 1oC is hardly a “cozy” temperature, given that arctic terrains may reach temperatures as low as -40oC to -50oC, an igloo performs an excellent job of controlling temperature.

Consequently, an igloo is a warm dwelling for those who live in subzero conditions.

Even arctic creatures utilize the insulating qualities of snow by digging burrows to remain warm.

So how does an igloo keep you warm? The floor of an igloo is never as flat as the floor of a tent.

It is terraced to provide an upper level for sleeping, a middle level for a fireplace, and a lower level for a cold sink.

Falling cold air gathers on the floor, preferably near the door, and remains.

Warm air, which is lighter and rises naturally, remains in the areas of the igloo that are utilized the most, including the sleeping area.

Because the entrance to an igloo is located at the base of the construction and there is at least one right-angled tunnel to crawl through, the icy Lapland winds cannot directly enter the dwelling room. And the little hole built at the curving roof’s peak allows smoke to escape securely.

All of this implies that it can be as cold as -50 degrees Fahrenheit outside but as warm as 19 to 61 degrees inside, not always warm enough for a T-shirt but a temperature differential that will feel incredibly comfortable, sometimes as much as 70 degrees warmer than outside.

Constructing the best igloo

The walls of the best igloos are uniform in thickness and density from top to bottom.

The finest igloo snow is the densest and dense. Fresh snow is useless because it is too powdery and fragile.

Older snow is crunchier and simpler to mold into snowballs, snowmen, and igloo blocks.

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A skilled igloo builder would arrange individual blocks in a spiral, gradually spiraling inwards at each turn until the curving roof is complete.

The blocks remain erect while leaning against one another, resulting in a sturdy, curving construction.

With proper balance, you should be able to confidently stand on the roof without causing any harm.


Remarkably, the Inuits could develop a warm and sturdy building technique by trial and error without understanding the underlying mathematics or physics.

Therefore, an igloo is a clever structure and a prime example of vernacular architecture.

Now that you understand the theory behind igloos, if you ever find yourself stuck in a cold environment with nowhere to go, dig up some snow blocks, construct a dome, and stay warm!

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