Difference Between Metals And Nonmetals

Metals and Nonmetals are the elements present around us. So, it is important to know whether a particular element is a metal or nonmetal. Elements are distinguished as above based on their properties. Have a look at the differences.

Metals And Nonmetals

What are Metals?

Majority elements 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.

What are Nonmetals?

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

Properties of Metals and Non Metals

Physical properties of metals

  • 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

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

Physical properties of non-metals

  • 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

  • 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

Nonmetals 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 nonmetal 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 Difference Between Metals And Nonmetals for better understanding.

Difference Between Metals And Nonmetals

Metals Nonmetals
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 be breakdown into pieces
These are shiny These are non-lustrous except iodine
Electropositive in nature Electronegative in nature
Have high densities Have low densities


Practise This Question

Fractional distillation is the separation of a mixture into its component or fractions. This process is based on difference in boiling point of the components in the mixture. This is a special type of distillation.

Air is a homogeneous mixture of 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.039% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases such as helium, krypton, nitrogen dioxide etc.

Consider three gases oxygen, nitrogen and argon whose boiling points are: -183, -196, -186 degree celsius. They are to be separated from air using fractional distillation.

Air is compressed by increasing pressure and is then cooled by decreasing the temperature to form liquid air. This liquid air is allowed to warm-up slowly in a fractional distillation column, where gases get separated at different heights depending upon their boiling points. As the height of tower increases the temperature increases.

Among the three gases, which gas is collected at last?