I have been playing with chunks of wood, mostly apple, trying to get away from buying lump charcoal. Everything has gone great except I am getting a bitter taste on the surface of the meat. Right now I have only smoked chickens using this method and when I pull and foil them I get juices from the skin on my hands. Of course I lick my fingers and find that there is a bad bitter taste. I don't eat the skin so when I serve I pull the skin and no bitter taste is left on the meat. I am pretty sure what I am tasting is creosote and I was hoping that someone with wood experience could help me. I have some pics and I will try to give as much information as I can. I use a SNP in my garage vented through the same vent used by my water heater. This is the apple wood I am using. The wood is 1.5 years old, but I have only recently split them into quarters. They are about 6 - 8 inches long. I always pre heat the wood on top of the firebox before I burn them. I start my fire with a chimney full of Royal Oak Lump. Left overs from my last smoke. Cooking chamber with the baffle mod and a pan I use for water and apple juice. I have modified the smoke stack with a piece of flexible muffler pipe. I use flexible dryer pipe for the vent connection. I want to smoke a few times next week so I need to figure out what I am doing wrong. Any help would be greatly appreciated.