The igloos, typical dome-shaped houses found in the North Pole, are built with blocks of ice and snow and it is this material that creates a natural barrier against the cold.
The air contained in the snow is a perfect thermal insulator, and the blocks made from compacted snow are set on top of each other and ‘cemented’ with powdery snow, which contains more air and therefore provides better insulation.
At the entrance to the igloo, a “cold pit” is created, which acts as a natural siphon to channel cold air, which tends to flow downwards. This system prevents the hot air contained in the structure from escaping. Over the centuries people such as the Inuit have found shelter inside these dwellings.
What temperature is reached inside?
The temperature inside varies according to the number of inhabitants. To heat an igloo, given its small size, human heat is sufficient. With two people inside the igloo, the temperature can be around 15 degrees, which, given the temperatures at those latitudes, is quite bearable.
Inside these ice houses it is even possible to light a fire to increase the temperature. The igloos are made of ice and air, which have different thermal capacities. The hot air from the fire cools quickly when it reaches the ice walls, preventing the bricks from melting.
This special phenomenon of ice houses has led people to find curious tourist attractions such as in Swedish Lapland, in Jukkasjärvi, where the Icehotel, the world’s largest ice hotel, is located.
The hotel is rebuilt every year with the arrival of the cold season, and 30 room designs are selected from all over the world to become true works of art where you can sleep.
Unlike the igloo, the temperature inside the rooms is about -5 degrees, which is not bad considering that outside temperatures in the winter season reach peaks of -30 degrees.