I joined this forum because I am very frustrated with smoking. I will start with my problem... I have been smoking for a few years now, about 10 times a year. It is usually ribs but i have also done pork chops, pork loins, turkeys, chickens, and some other random things. When I smoke stuff, it always comes out with a layer of black char-looking stuff all over the outside, making the meat appear to be very badly burnt. The meat is always perfectly done and tastes amazing, but I am sick of going through all the work and time to make it and have it come out looking like crap. Plus I then have to explain to everyone else that it is not burnt and talk them into trying it. I would very much appriciate any help I could get. I will give a history of what I have done to solve the problem...I began using an upright, simple small smoker(dont remember the brand but it was one with the coal pan, water pan, then 2 racks with the lid on top). I put the charcoal in the bottom, soaked wood and put it on the coals, filled with water and went. When searching for reasons for the blackness, I heard that soaking the wood could cause it so I stopped and it didnt help. That smoker rusted out so I then got a Char Griller smoker with side firebox. I started by putting charcoal in the firebox and put wood and a pan of water on the rack above it but the blackness continued. I then used less wood thinking the reduced smoke would stop it, but of course it did not. I have tried keeping the vents open all the way and closed all the way and saw no difference. My most recent attempt was using an all wood fire instead of the charcoals and it did the same(but tasted better). I should also mention that I almost always use hickory wood that I buy from the store in a bag, but have used mesquite a few times which, as I remember, had the same issue. I am now all out of ideas and would like any help I can get, because I truly love bbq food but spending most of my day smoking meat and having it turn out ugly is just demoralizing.