My ash is dark too! Hmmm, I see what you mean. Doesn't sound right! I try to keep my mag setting on the high side and the feed rate as low as I can(keeps tha ash as light as possible). Yet keeping the flame as consistent as I can. I like the trade off though, So darker ash is the least of my worries. While others are poking and prodin there burnpots. I'm sitting there drink brews and watchin the pretty flames. My once a week cleaning is all thats needed and I'll scratch my a** for the rest of the week!