Difference Between Metals And Nonmetals

Metals and Nonmetals are different types of materials present around us. Elements can be divided into metals and nonmetals and it is important to know whether a particular element is a metal or nonmetal. Metals (like copper and aluminium) are good conductors of heat and electricity, while nonmetals (such as phosphorus and sulfur) are insulators. Materials are distinguished as above, based on their properties.

What are Metals?

Majority elements in the periodic table are metals. This includes alkali metals, transition metals, lanthanides, actinides and alkaline earth metals. Metals are separated by nonmetals on a periodic table through a zigzag line starting from carbon, till radon. The elements between the two are phosphorus, selenium and iodine.

These elements and elements right to them in the periodic table are nonmetals. Elements present just to the left of the line are termed as semimetals or metalloids. These will have the combined properties of both metals and nonmetals.

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Non-metals occupy the upper right-hand portion of the periodic table. Considering the properties of non-metals it is not shiny, malleable or ductile nor are they good conductors of electricity. These properties of non-metals provide one means by which we can distinguish metals from non-metals.

Properties of Non-metals have less in common with each other than metals. Their physical and chemical properties vary widely. Some non-metals are solids and some are gases at room temperature.

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What are Non metals?

Very few elements in the periodic table are non-metals. These are present on the right-hand side in the periodic table. Elements that come under non-metals are sulphur, carbon, all halogens, phosphorus, hydrogen, oxygen, selenium, nitrogen and noble gases.

In the periodic table, non-metals are located left of the halogens and to the right of the metalloids. Since noble gases and halogens are also non-metals, these elements are often referred to as non-metals.

Metals and Nonmetals

Metals and Nonmetals

Properties of Metals 

Physical Properties of Metals

Some physical properties of metals are listed below.

  • Shiny (lustrous) in nature
  • Metal is a good conductor of electricity and heat
  • Density and melting point is high
  • Mouldable (Malleable)
  • Ductile
  • At room temperature, it is in solid form except for mercury
  • Opaque

Chemical Properties of Metals

Some chemical properties of metals are listed below.

  • Easily corrodible
  • Can lose electrons
  • Form basic oxides
  • Have low electronegativities
  • Good reducing agents

Properties of Non-Metals

Physical Properties of Non-metals

Some physical properties of non-metals are listed below.

  • Poor conductors of electricity and heat
  • Non-Ductile metals
  • Brittle solids
  • Maybe solids, liquids or gases at room temperature
  • These are not sonorous
  • Transparent

Chemical Properties of Non-metals

Some chemical properties of non-metals are listed below.

  • The number of electrons in the outer shell is generally 4-8
  • Easily gain or lose valence electrons
  • Form acidic oxides whenever they come in contact with oxygen
  • High electronegative elements
  • Great oxidizing agents

Non-metals and metals take different forms (allotropes). They have different shapes and properties. Allotropes are elements that exist in two or more than two different physical forms.

  • Example 1: A non-metal carbon – two allotropes of carbon are diamond and graphite.
  • Example 2: A metal such as iron – two allotropes of iron are austenite and ferrite

Have a look at the given table depicting the major differences between Metals And Non-metals for better understanding.

Differences Between Metals And Non-metals

A reactivity series is a vital tool for chemists. It helps us to understand the properties of metals and the differences between them.

Metals Non-metals
These are solids at room temperature except mercury These exist in all three states
These are very hard except sodium These are soft except diamond
These are malleable and ductile These are brittle and can break down into pieces
These are shiny These are non-lustrous except iodine
Electropositive in nature Electronegative in nature
Have high densities Have low densities

Frequently Asked Questions

What is called non-metal?

Non-metal or non-metal is a chemical element that does not have metal’s properties. Some gases include hydrogen, helium, oxygen, nitrogen, fluorine, neon, or radon and many more.

What is called Metal?

Many chemical elements are referred to as metals. These are the bulk of the periodic table elements. Generally, such components have the following characteristics: these can conduct heat and electricity. They can be easily shaped.

What are the uses of non-metal?

Oxygen is a non-metal that is used for breathing by plants and animals. It is essential to maintain our life. It is used in the process of fuel-burning in homes, factories, and vehicles for transport.

Which non-metal is essential for our life?

Oxygen is an essential non-metal for our life and it is inhaled during breathing by all living beings.

Which non-metal is used as a fuel?

The non-metal used in the rockets is liquid hydrogen. They are separate hydrogen and oxygen tanks that combine and burn to start the rocket. Due to its high calorific value, hydrogen is used.


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