I was tossing around the idea of doing some posts on the various food additives one sees (and which some people are frightened by, due to their long chemical names) when I ran across Science Fare's list of The Ingredients of Scientific Cooking. Some of these every cook has used (sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda; sodium chloride aka table salt; ethanol aka drinking alcohol, to name the three most instantly recognizable ones), and some are a bit more specialty (such as pectin to gel a jam - mmmmm, I remember my mom's jam) and some I didn't realize people used in home kitchens. Although in hindsight, the fact that I have seen a bag of MSG in the supermarket means that yeah, people do actually use them.
This list looks like an excellent resource, though I may branch out from it and look into some of the things used only in commercially produced food, because I am curious about some of these. Especially items such as preservatives, since without them, food (and even non-food items such as sunscreen) doesn't last very long and provides a potential base for bacteria and mould, some of it potentially harmful, to grow.