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Properties of Metals and Non-Metals

  • Last Updated : 14 Jul, 2021
Geek Week

In our nature, there are different types of material present around us mainly elements and compounds. The elements further divided into two material called Metals and Non-Metals. Just look around yourself you are surrounded by the elements, now the question is can you differentiate what is metal or non-metal? Is copper wire or aluminium window is metal or non-metal? So in science, there are some properties mainly physical and chemical properties which help us to distinguish between the two. For example suppose there is cow and dog, although both are animals, still, we can differentiate them easily by just seeing them. Both look completely different to each other, and we can easily tell that look this is a dog and that is a cow. Before differentiating between two let’s first understand what actually they are?

What is a Metal and Non-Metal?

Metals are bulk of elements present in the periodic table, it is shiny in nature, conduct heat as well as electricity, and malleable and ductile. For example iron, copper, gold and silver are Metals. On the other hand, Non-Metals lie on the left side of the periodic table. Non-Metals does not show any metallic property like it does not conduct heat and electricity, neither malleable nor ductile in nature. Oxygen, Carbon are some examples of Non-Metals. Also, non-metals majorly exist in the gaseous state while metals present in the solid-state.

Physical Properties of Metals

  • Lustrous: Metals are lustrous in nature, but what does it mean? Lustrous means shiny surface for example gold and silvery have metallic lustre thus they are used for making jewellery. Also, utensils made of metals have a metallic lustre. 
  • Good conductor of electricity and heat: Metal is a good conductor of electricity and heat. This is the reason we used metallic utensils for cooking as they conduct heat to the food. Also, we used metallic wire as metals are good conductor of heat. The best conductor of heat and electricity are copper and silver, while mercury and lead are poor conductors.
  • High density and melting point: All the metals have a high melting point as well as it has high density. Here density refers to the mass of a substance per unit volume and melting point refers to the temperature where solids start melting.
  • Malleable and Ductile: Metals are malleable means they can be beaten into a sheet by hammer or rolling. Also, metals are ductile in nature i.e. they can be easily stretched into a wire when they get pulled. Gold is the most ductile metal that can stretch up to 1 km with the use of 1 gm of gold only.
  • Sonorous: The property is shown by the metal when it strikes a hard surface produces a sound called sonorous. Earlier school bells were made of metals due to sonority property.
  • Solid State: At room temperature, metals exist in solid-state except mercury which exists in the liquid state at room temperature. Also, metals are hard in nature and their hardness varies from metal to metal.

Chemical Properties of Metals

  • Easily corrodible: Metals have a property to get easily corrode, corrosion refers to a process when the metal naturally converted into a stable form like oxide, sulphide or hydroxide that leads to the destruction of the metal. For example, rusting of iron metal.
  • Can lose electrons: Metals can form positive charge ions by losing their electron when reacting with a non-metal.
  • Form basic oxides: Metal can form basic oxides when reacting with oxygen. While some metal oxides like aluminium oxide and zinc oxide show both acidic and basic behaviour. These type of oxides are called amphoteric oxides. 

Metal + Oxygen -> Metal oxide(basic oxide)

  • Have low electronegativities: Electronegativity is referred to the ability of the atom to attract electrons to form a chemical bond. So high electronegativity means it will attract electrons very easily, and low electronegativity means less ability to attract electrons. Thus, metals have low electronegativity.

Physical Properties of Non-Metals

  • Non-Lustrous: Non-Metals do not have any shine, or we can say non-lustrous. While diamond and iodine are the exceptions as they are lustrous in nature.
  • Bad conductor of Heat and Electricity: Unlike metals, non-metals are poor conductor of heat and electricity except Graphite which is a very good conductor of electricity.
  • Low density and melting point: Most non -metals are very low melting point and low density.
  • Brittle: Non-Metals are very much brittle in nature means they can break if they got stretched or beaten, that means non-metal neither malleable nor ductile in nature.
  • Sonorous: Non-Metals are non-sonorous as they do not produce any ringing sounds.
  • Solid, Liquid, Gas: Most of the non-metals present in the gaseous state, but there are some metals too which exists in liquid and solids state too.

Chemical Properties of Non-Metal

  • 4-8 electrons in the outer shell: Basically, non-metals outer shell have 4 to 8 electrons, and thus it has the tendency to attract electrons.
  • Can gain electrons: Non-Metals can form charge ions by gaining their electron when reacting with a metal.
  • Form acidic oxides: Non-Metal can form acidic oxides when reacting with oxygen.

Non-Metal + oxygen-> Non-Metal oxides(acidic in nature)

  • Have high electronegativities: Since we have already discussed what is electronegativity, and we know in non-metals there are 4-8 electrons present in the outer shell thus it has more ability to gain electrons. Thus, we can say that non-metals have high electronegativity.

So these are some basic difference between Metals and Non-Metals. Let’s summarise it in very short with the help of  a table:



Metals Non-Metals 
Metals are Lustrous in nature  Non- metals are non-lustrous except iodine.
All the metals have a high melting point as well as it has high densityNon-metals are poor conductor of Heat and Electricity except graphite.
High density and melting point Low density and melting point 
Malleable and DuctileBrittle
Sonorous:Non-sonorous
Metals have low electronegativitiesNon-Metals have high electronegativities
Metal can form basic oxides when reacting with oxygen.Non-Metal can form acidic oxides when reacting with oxygen.
Metals can form positive charge ions by losing their electron when reacting with a non-metal.Non-Metals can form charge ions by gaining their electron when reacting with a metal.

Sample Questions

Question 1: What do you mean by electronegativity? Which element has high electronegativity metal or non-metal?

Answer:

Electronegativity is referred to the ability of the atom to attract electrons to form a chemical bond. So high electronegativity means it will attract electrons very easily, and low electronegativity means less ability to attract electrons. Since we know non-metals there are 4-8 electrons present in the outer shell thus it has more ability to gain electrons. Thus, we can say that non-metals have high electronegativity.

Question 2: Why gold and silver is used for making ornaments?

Answer:

This is due to the Lustrous property of metals which makes gold and silver shiny and attractable.

Question 3: “All non-metals are poor conductor of electricity”. If the above statement is correct, give reasons of your answer?

Answer:



This statement is incorrect as graphite a non-metal which is a good conductor of electricity.

Question 4: What do you mean by metals and non-metal?

Answer:

Metals are bulk of elements present in the periodic table, it is shiny in nature, conduct heat as well as electricity, and malleable and ductile. For example iron, copper, gold and silver are Metals. On the other hand, Non-Metals lie on the left side of the periodic table. Non-Metals does not show any metallic property like it does not conduct heat and electricity, neither malleable nor ductile in nature. Oxygen, Carbon are some examples of Non-Metals. Also, non-metals majorly exist in the gaseous state while metals present in the solid state

Question 5: Which metal is not solid at room temperature? Write the chemical formula of that metal.

Answer:

Mercury(Hg) is the only metal which is not solid at room temperature, it exists in liquid form.

Question 6: What is corrosion? Give an example.

Answer:

Corrosion refers to a process when the metal naturally converted into a stable form like oxide, sulphide or hydroxide that leads to the destruction of the metal. For example, rusting of iron metal.

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