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Original poster
Jan 30, 2011
              Hello, just signed up with you guys and couldn't be more impressed with all the info...I've been smokin for about 5 years now and LOVE it. I still use my first smoker Great Smokey Mountain (propane) and man has that thing performed!

              I have a quick question, here lately I've had a really bad problem with my meats turning black. I'm getting a thick black residue for some odd reason. I've used different woods to remedy the problem (hickory,mesquite) as well as the amount of wood with no luck. I've even scrubbed the entire inside of my smoker, still no luck. I traditionally use seasoned oak and have had great luck in the past. Just wondering if anyone has had this problem or heard of a fix?? Thanks again for having a great site!!  BK
First off Welcome to SMF. Glad to have you here.

Have you changed your rub at all? Maybe the burner is having issues. Does it burn clean or is the burner putting out any kind of smoke on its own?
It's possible that there isn't enough air flow going through your cooker. How does the meat taste? Is it at all bitter tasting or more just charred? If it isn't bitter and there's just more charring, maybe the temps are too hot. I would suggest trying to increase the air flow if you don't think the temperature has anything to do with it. You could also try ramping up the heat with some water to create steam for a good while before you clean it out next time. Perhaps even a couple of times. And then follow that up with a good seasoning with peanut oil or cooking spray.
The only 3 things I can think of that would cause that:
  1. Using green wood (wood that's not been seasoned long enough)
  2. Using some kind of wood other than hard wood such as pine, spruce, fir, etc.
  3. Improper airflow into and out of the smoker
Make sure the wood you are using is well seasoned, it has been in the dry for at least 4-6 months. I don't know where you are getting your wood chunks, chips from but make sure it is a hard wood and not a soft wood such as pine, spruce, etc.. The rule of thumb is that if it bears a fruit or nut and is a hardwood, it is normally good for smoking wood even if it is of the ornamental variety.

Make sure there is ample venting for air to get into the smoker down low by the flame and smoke box and up top above the top rack. On my GOSM, I have 2 vents at the bottom (one on each side) and then 1 vent on the very top.

I keep the bottom vents open at least 1/3 of the way at all times and the top vent is open about 1/4 at all times. Mine also has tab stops on the vents so I can't close it all the way even if I wanted to but yours may not have that or maybe they've gotten bent over so that they no longer work. Just something to check.

Q: Are you using the original smoke box and water pan that came with the smoker?

Make sure there is ample room for the smoke to get out of the smoke box and flow around the water pan, up to the meat and then out the top vent and that there is nothing that might be blocking that path.

Q: Can you think of anything else that may have changed, no matter how insignificant it might seem, since the time it was working properly until the time it started causing black residue on everything.
I had a problem with a gas grill doing something similar, I changed to old burner out with a new one and never had a problem again. Don't know if that's any help but your question brought it to my mind. I have also learned from my SnP with mods that regardless of the fuel you have to have air circulating all the way through the think to not get soot.  Hope this might be of some help, be sure and let us know what you find out or what happens, that way it may help us or someone else with the same problem.  OH, welcome to SMF, I have been smoking about 8 yrs. and have learned more from here and even developed some of my own recipes and mods from just reading the post.  The only dumb question here is the one you don't ask!!!!  Glad to have you on board.

I haven't considered some of these ideas but I am going to try them and will keep you updated. The meats taste great with no bitterness. I did replace the original dinky smoke box with a cast iron frying pan several years back, but everything else is original. I'm interested in the burner and circulation idea. I will post back when I try this. Thanks for all the good input, BK 
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I haven't considered some of these ideas but I am going to try them and will keep you updated. The meats taste great with no bitterness. I did replace the original dinky smoke box with a cast iron frying pan several years back, but everything else is original. I'm interested in the burner and circulation idea. I will post back when I try this. Thanks for all the good input, BK 
Are you sure you are not confusing that with what people call the "bark". Bark is generally considered a good thing (by most people), it develops due to the spices, sugars, and juices mixing with the smoke to make an outer layer that can sometimes be mistake for burnt meat when you look at it. But once you pull or slice the meat the bark adds a nice flavor and texture contrast that is one of the signature characteristics of slow cooked smoked meats.

The reason I ask is that usually when people refer to a thick black substance on the outside of the meat they also mention that it tastes terrible and makes your tounge numb. That is a sign of creasote, which is not a good thing, and is caused by poor air flow and stagnant smoke in the cooking chamber. But since you said your meats taste great with no bitterness, then I don't think creasote is an issue.

Try putting less sugar in your rubs and don't sauce the meat untill the last hour of the cook. You can also try cutting  back on the amount of wood chips/chunks used, and the amount of time you have wood in creating smoke. Since the flavor is coming out good I would try these two suggestions before changing your smoker set up, just to be safe.
I appreciate the input. My butts have that beautiful bark (man how I love the bark!) but when I do something that usually doesn't "bark up" (i.e chicken, turkey.etc.) I have literally wiped black stuff off of the skin. I have used a very basic rub with a minimal amount of any sugars if any, since I started to smoke, and my bird has always turned out golden or a little darker. I saw a pic of some fellows chix and got me thinking about how mine use to look that GOOD!
(Sounds like I'm talking about another mans woman, good thing we're just talking food!!!)

   But hey seriously thanks for the suggestion I have some homework to due and I will keep yall updated. BK
To me it has to be something with the wood. I did read that you cleaned the inside of the smoker. Have you changed anything like vent openings or fuel placement
         Well not to pulverize this dead horse but I believe I found the problem!!! I got to some super thinkin and with your suggestions I focused on the burner and air factors. I took the burner apart and found that the small screws that connect the burner itself and the tube feed/gas line pipe had worked themselves out, causing an large gap and allowing more air to enter the burner and causing the flame to burn "rich".Thus causing a black soot to appear. I replaced the screws and tested with nice blue/ yellow tipped flames, the flames were all yellow before and not "uniform" (clue#1), if that makes sense.

         I read somewhere online a fellow discussing what his burner's flame looked like and by the color and shape, if the air/gas mix was right. Shouldn't be this technical but I didn't make this stuff up...anyway I learned something about gas and I really appreciate the advice, THANKS

So, in conclusion, Lesson learned: too much air is not a good thing(sometimes) and can cause you to go nuts tryin to figure it out

Glad you got it fixed!

 Have a great day!!

Welcome and glad to hear the problem was solved. Pretty cool how everyone jumped in to help as always. Good lookin chicken BTW

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