Patrick Smith was growing increasingly annoyed with his forge.

“I was tired of my shoe falling in,” says the Traverse City, Mich., farrier.

A trip to Tractor Supply changed all that. Smith grabbed a 4 1/2-inch-by-9 1/2-inch ivory firebrick (Figure 1), which weighs 4 pounds and costs about $2.50.

“I just broke it up,” says the certified journeyman farrier, “and spread it across the bottom of the forge.” (Figure 2)

Not only does it keep Smith’s horseshoes from falling in, it also has another benefit.

“The forge,” he says, “actually gets hotter now.”

It makes sense. A firebrick is a refractory ceramic material that’s used to line furnaces, kilns, fireboxes and fireplaces. It withstands high temperatures and has a low thermal conductivity so it is more energy efficient.