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Quarantine 2021: Igloo Update

by Taylor

8th March, 2021

Alright, it’s been a little over a week since Sierrane and I began our igloo journey and committed ourselves to long, cold, and exciting work of putting a roof over our heads this winter. Since we’ve started, our friend Kristen joined us, and we’ve made a ton of progress (which you’ll see and read about below)!

This past week has seen varied temperatures, when we first starting freezing our bricks, the temperature was hovering around 25-30 degrees, and it took a full 2-3 days in order for the water to freeze over entirely.

As the temperatures dipped into single digits (and then negative…), the bricks started to freeze much faster, but it still takes nearly 24 hours in these colder temperatures.

The Learning Curve

It’s been a learning experience figuring out how to most efficiently build the igloo. One issue we’ve really struggled with up until recently was removing the bricks from the aluminum, without damaging the mold. The weather is so cold, it’s often difficult to remove the ice without damaging the aluminum pan. Finally, Sierrane figured out that when recovering the brick from the pan, we can dip the pan into cold water, let the water detach the ice from the pan, and easily pull it out without deforming or ripping the aluminum.

We also at first struggled to lay the second row of bricks, until Kristen paved the way, delicately & precisely applying the mortar to the second layer and letting it freeze over, rather than “slapping” it on like Sierrane and I were accustomed to.

When we first started, I didn’t actually have any waterproof gloves, and so Sierrane was taping plastic bags over my hands. I’ve since overcome this issue by buying a pair of durable latex cleaning gloves which go over my cloth ones. This system has worked wonders in preventing water from getting into my gloves, all but a death sentence re:igloo progress in -12 F temperatures.

Progress In Pictures

Andddd…what you came for, picture updates. I’ve tried to arrange these temporally, with the earliest posted first, and the latest last (no guarantees though).

The foundation/first layer of igloo brick, bookended by solar lights Sierrane bought to mark where we stopped.
The pans show our freezing strategy. We’ve developed an assembly line whereby I fill the buckets and Sierrane pours them.
I with my bag hands, and Kristen in her mittens,
had just settled in the igloo, in it, we were smitten.
Sunday morning, after a long build with Sierrane, Kristen and I
An interior panoramic, Sierrane working on the bench alcove as the sun sets.
Another impromptu shot, Sierrane building the alcove. We’ve left an opening for us to easily get in and out.
A large shot of the whole operation.
A view of the igloo at night. Light courtesy of my bike lamp.
A wider view of the igloo at night. Light courtesy of my bike lamp.

So that’s it so far! In terms of progress assessment, I estimate that we’ve laid around 120-150 bricks, and estimate a total of 450-500 bricks need to be laid before the igloo reaches completion.

We’ve tried to lay the heavier, wider ones (though, I may have made a few exceptions) into the igloo and save the misformed or lighter bricks for the igloo uppers.

We intend to freeze bricks all this week, and have another build session this weekend, possibly where we finish it!

by Taylor