I bought my Miniworks filter about 4 years...
I bought my Miniworks filter about 4 years ago and I've filtered more than 500 liters of silty canyon water and I've just bought a replacement cartridge back in june and I've only used it twice and both times it has screwed me over and the results have been stomach cramps and dehydration. There is a white seal around the top of the cartridge that is protruding out and I'm wondering if it's a defect cartridge. The filter won't put out any water no matter how much pumping I do and I've cleaned the whole unit several times and boiled the cartridge twice to try and revive it... Any ideas?
The white substance pictured is the glue used to hold the black rubber top to the ceramic/carbon material. This shouldn't cause any pumping problems.
Typically what I see when someone has problem with their Miniworks EX is to check the duckbill valve located where the hose connects to the filter. By unscrewing the black plastic piece you will find the duckbill valve located inside. If it is ripped, damaged due to deformation (permanent creases, etc.), or otherwise damaged you should replace it (included in the Miniworks Repair Kit).
If this isn't the problem, I would then check the umbrella valve located underneath the head of the filter (red, flat valve that pops into the bottom). Usually there's a rock or some other debris logged in it not allowing it to sufficiently close.
If the filter works properly, it is the most thorough of any filter on the market. This means that any sickness you've experienced was most likely due from some other contamination (dirty hands, dirty and/or contaminated container, etc.). However, if the ceramic filter element is cracked then this might allow for contaminated water to enter in. I would inspect the element very thoroughly.
If none of these things work, I would recommend sending it back to Cascade Design. I would call them at (206) 505-9500.