Resources > Survival in Extreme Environments > Shelter
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Today most indigenous people live in houses in villages, although traditionally many groups in northern Canada, Greenland and Alaska would have lived in possibly the most famous mode of polar shelter, the igloo. Northern people would traditionally use an igloo only when out hunting, as this meant they did not have to carry shelter with them, but could build it and abandon it as necessary. An igloo consists of blocks of snow cut into bricks and placed on top of each other, producing a spiral which creates a domed shelter. It requires the right kind of snow, which is neither too crumbly nor too hard to cut. It is important that this snow goes to the right depth; as snow builds up in layers it is not always uniform across these layers. An igloo would usually made by two people, one assembling the igloo from the inside and the other outside cutting and passing bricks inside. The snow is cut into bricks by using friction from a knife to melt the snow, this means when two bricks are put side by side the melted snow will re-freeze and the two will be stuck together. As an igloo is used it will become stronger, as it becomes warm inside the igloo will melt slightly which will then re-freeze, securing the joints.
The entrance to an igloo is through an angled tunnel with only a very small surface opening. The tunnel allows people to enter and leave the igloo but the small opening prevents too much cold air entering the igloo.