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Show HN: Igloos That Don't Melt (icewall.com.au)
81 points by peterwallhead on Aug 23, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

OP here.

I'm the younger son of the late inventor of these igloos and I just want to share this product with a wider audience.

Of tech interest, 2 Igloos are being used as meeting rooms in Google's Zurich HQ.

Would love to hear your thoughts on other possible tech related uses too.

I'm curious about the approximate price range. I'm imagining it's by part, but what would you say a basic cabin for 2 runs vs the winter quarters for 6 before shipping of course.

Prices start from $22,560AUD (about $17,236USD), for a basic cabin without furniture.

Because every Igloo is made to order and can may include additional wall panels and furniture then there is no set price range. Best to contact directly for further info.

http://www.icewall.com.au/about/faqs/ and http://www.icewall.com.au/contact/

The Hexayurt: http://www.appropedia.org/Hexayurt_playa

Not nearly as solid, but inexpensive, easy to pack, and quick to set up. Tape down to a tarp to keep out the dust. Stake out to survive 50mph winds.

Pressurize in bio-warfare environments- assemble 2 together sharing a wall as an "air lock"... enjoy!

Warning- Does not keep out "rage zombies"

The yurt is a great and timeless design, but it's not really designed for the same longevity or environments as an Igloo.

Yurt: Protection from sun and wind

Igloo: Insulation from cold and wind, structurally protected against weight of snow on top of it

The modern iterations on both of these ideas will have similar constraints (though modern materials can push the constraints further).

Challenge accepted. Everything melts under the right conditions.

Counterpoint: you can intermix an insulatory and a crystalline material to form a resistant composite.


Pykrete-reinforced igloo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pykrete#/media/File:Ice_Dome_-...

Wood doesn't melt; it just burns.

Not that these don't melt; they're mostly fiberglass and polyurethane.

Well it certainly can't burn if there is no oxigen around.

edit: It seems it doesn't melt even then.


You can dissolve wood, if you have the right solvent.

That sounds like as close as we'll get to melting the stuff.


Lots of things sublime into gas rather than melt.

Yeah, but then I remembered pressure. ;-)

> Light enough to be flown fully assembled by helicopter.

Kind of an amusing phrase, though I imagine it makes more sense out in the Australian bush.

Even out there, it's a pretty rare use case. If you're somewhere so remote that you can't get there with any kind of land vehicle, then... what are you even doing there, that you need a semi-permanent solid structure?

Happens all the time here in Alaska. There are many medium-sized towns and villages that are accessible only by air or water.

Heck, not even the state capital (population 31,000) is on the road system.

The page itself has some good examples - really remote on montain tops e.g.

Misleading title. Igloos are made out of ice. This is made out of fiberglass and PET. I was expecting something like a better version of Pykrete. The "don't melt" qualifier is especially misleading because it implies that under normal circumstances it would melt. Nobody talks about "non-melting fiberglass" - that's normal fiberglass so you don't need to specify non-melting. This is just a prefab dome building. Domes buildings are interesting, but not as interesting as true non-melting ice would be.

"Misleading title. Igloos are made out of ice."

Nope, though that's a common misconception.

"Iglu" just means "house". It can refer to any type of dwelling, made of any material (even a modern wood-frame, brick, or concrete house). Only a few groups of the Inuit/Inupiat/Yup'ik people actually lived in iglus made of snow (not ice), though many groups used them for temporary shelter while on (e.g.) hunting trips. Other groups made their iglus of hides, sod, driftwood, or whatever other local material was available (some of the southern groups, such as the Alutiiq, dug pit houses in the ground).

"Igloo" is an English word. It doesn't have the exact same meaning as the Inuit word it's derived from. And snow is a type of ice.

'"Igloo" is an English word."

No, it is not.

"And snow is a type of ice."

No, it is not. Snow (of the type used to construct shelters) is a mixture of ice crystals and air. The air is extremely important for the purpose under discussion. Snow is a pretty good insulator. Ice is not.

Also, "Inuit" is the name of only one group of people. Using their name for (say) Yup'ik is like calling an Italian or Romanian "French" just because they all speak a Romance language.

There's a strong argument to be made for OP's statements.


"igloo" is a word, like "hamburger" or "silhouette" or "denim" or "thug", which has passed into general English use.

Just as "hamburger" doesn't mean "a resident of Hamburg", "silhoette" doesn't mean "a penny-pinching finance minister of France", "denim" doesn't mean "from Nimes", and "thug" doesn't refer specifically to "an Indian religious assassin", "igloo" as used in English doesn't mean simply "house", but rather, a dome-shaped structure made of snow blocks.

Which, incidentally, makes the title here clickbait through misrepresentative word use.

Mind: words may still exist and have independent meanings in their original tongues. This doesn't preclude them from having other meanings, sometimes closely related, sometimes not, in other languages.


"There's a strong argument to be made for OP's statements."

He claimed that igloos are made of "ice".

That is not correct. At all.

Igloos are made of snow. Snow is made of ice. By the transitive property of "made of", igloos are made of ice. As the specific properties of snow are of no relevance to the discussion, saying they are made of ice is entirely reasonable use of language.

Your claim is as nonsensical as saying a bottle isn't made of hydrocarbons because it's actually made of plastic. If we were talking about the mechanical properties then "plastic" would be appropriate. But if we were talking about peak oil, "hydrocarbons" would be more appropriate. But both are correct and making the suboptimal choice is merely a matter of style.

In this discussion we are talking about melting, so I claim that "ice" is good style. You might think it bad style, but going as far as calling it incorrect makes you factually wrong.

Of course it is. People will think you're crazy if you call a wood frame house an igloo. An igloo is not an ᐃᒡᓗ, just like a mansion is not a マンション.

And while insulation is an important property of snow, for the purposes of the discussion where we were talking about melting not insulation, "ice" is a good word to use. Snow is made of ice, so this is 100% correct.

And "Inuit" is absolutely the correct name for the closely related languages/dialects shared by several groups of native Alaskan/Canadian/Greenlandic peoples. I realize the distinction between language and dialect is politically contentious, but speakers of Inuit from close geographical areas have excellent mutual comprehension, so it is not similar to your Italian/Romanian example.

As Wikipedia says "Outside Inuit culture, however, igloo refers exclusively to shelters constructed from blocks of compacted snow, generally in the form of a dome."

"And "Inuit" is absolutely the correct name for the closely related languages/dialects shared by several groups of native Alaskan/Canadian/Greenlandic peoples."

No, it absolutely is not. Yup'ik is not Inuit. It is not mutually intelligible with any dialect of Inuit. The Yup'ik languages split from Inuit around a thousand years ago (i.e., just about as long ago as Romanian, Spanish, etc. split from Latin).

The correct name for the language group is Eskimo–Aleut. Not "Inuit".

I realize that it's become fashionable in Canada to simply ignore Yup'ik and Aleut people and just call everybody "Inuit". However, Canada isn't the whole world.

Neither professional linguists (source: Wikipedia article below) nor the people themselves (source: I live in Alaska and actually know Alaska Native people) consider Inuit the "correct name" for all Eskimo-Aleut languages. While an Iñupiat person might not get pissed off at you for calling him an "Inuit" (even thought they don't call themselves that) a Yup'ik person probably would. Just as an Italian would be upset by being called "French".


Inuit language is a subset of Eskimo-Aleut language. Yup'ik language and Aleut language are also subsets of Eskimo-Aleut language. I was unable to find any evidence that Yup'ik or Aleut people traditionally built snow houses. I can't rule out that some of them did, but it has no relevance to the English word "igloo", which is derived from the Inuit language subset of Eskimo-Aleut, not the Yup'ik language or Aleut language subsets of Eskimo-Aleut.

"Snow is made of ice, so this is 100% correct."

Build a shelter out of ice instead of snow and you'd learn the difference in a hurry.

Often times, it's bulk rather than weight that determines transport feasibility. That's historically been a significant limiting factor in the practicality of prefabricated structures for general use...the difficulty of prefabricating a foundation being perhaps the only more significant one.

So, how much does one actually cost?

For a basic Igloo (8 wall panels, without furniture) prices start from AUD $22,560 (current as of Dec. 2014) - http://www.icewall.com.au/about/faqs/

Or about $17,236 in American dollars

And what's the actual cost to make one?

That's a number set by the licensed manufacturer, which I'm not party to. Sorry.

We'll probably see some of those at a Burning Man VIP camp.

I hope so!

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