Galerie D’Art Esquimau, Montreal, 1990
Soft soapstone was easy to carve into a bowl that could be used for a seal-oil lamp (qulliq). One end of a wick made from moss was dipped into the bowl of seal oil. When the other end was lit, the lamp provided light and heat inside an igloo or skin tent.
Traditional Inuit used a bow-drill...with the drill bit removed, or other similar inventions to produce fire. The drill stick was rotated quickly while it was pushed down upon. This created friction, which produced enough heat to start a flame.
While a lit qulliq could not be placed too close to a snow wall, its heat actually helped to strengthen an igloo. The heat from the qulliq and the body heat of the Inuit in the igloo created a thin layer of melted snow on the inside wall. When the Inuit extinguished the lamp and went to sleep, this layer would freeze, making the walls even stronger.
The Inuit Thought of It: Amazing Arctic Innovations. Volume XIV Number 8, December 7, 2007