Chemical Abstracts Service (hereafter known as CAS) late last month launched a free online database for the general public. Common Chemistry covers nearly 8,000 chemicals and is available at http://www.commonchemistry.org/index.aspx. It can be searched by either chemical name or CAS Registry Number (which I would doubt that the “general public” would know, but anyway…)
When I think of chemicals, I always think of MSG, so I did a search for that. I actually got five results, from the common (Graphite) to the completely unexpected (pregnant mare serum?!) but what I wanted (L-Glutamic acid, monosodium salt) was the second result.
Clicking the registry number (in this case 142-47-2) brought me information in the form of synonyms for the substance and the chemical structure. And, of course, the aforementioned registry number. Sometimes when you’re searching for more common items, like salt, there’s a link to Wikipedia. Such a link was not available in this case.
However I found I didn’t really need it. I took the registry number and a couple of the synonyms and did a search for 142-47-2 Glutamic acid monosodium salt msg. I got less than 150 (including a Wikipedia article!) All were seriously oriented toward chemical information. Results included Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) data, chemical structures (with references to PubChem), and even a B2B database of products made in China.
Common Chemistry does not in itself have a lot of information. However you could easily take information from the synonyms list (especially the brand names) and buid yourself a great Google / other search engine search. I’m saving this one as a reference engine.