Properties of Metals and Non-Metals

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Metals and non-metals have distinct properties and reactivity with other elements. Dissimilarities in the physical and chemical properties depend on their place in the periodic table. Conductivity, density, ductility, and malleability are a few physical properties of elements. Chemical properties of elements comprise reactions with other elements and compounds. This helps in identifying their reactivity, electronegativity, etc. The periodic table comprises metals, non-metals, and metalloids.


An element which voluntarily forms positive ions (cations) is considered to be a metal. They have a tendency to form metallic bonds.

Chemicals and physical properties of metals including malleability, ductility help in distinguishing them from one another. 

Iron, copper, gold, and silver are a few of the popular metals. Basically, group 1st elements barring Hydrogen, group 2nd to 12th elements, a few elements from group 13th to 17th comprising Lanthanoids and Actinides are all metals. 

Properties of Metals

Metals are used in our day-to-day life and for industrial purposes. They exhibit various properties depending on their physical and chemical behavior. 


Physical properties

  • Metals are lustrous in nature. They have a shiny surface. Gold and silver are the major examples. Even utensils have metallic luster.
  • Metals are good conductors of heat and electricity. Copper and silver are among the best conductors of heat and electricity. Mercury and lead are examples for poor conductors.
  • Metals have high density and melting point. 
  • They are malleable and ductile. Metals can be beaten into a sheet by hammer or rolling. Gold is among the most ductile metals.
  • Metals have a sonority property. They produce sound when they strike a hard surface. For example, school bells are made using metals due to sonority property.
  • They exist in solid state at room temperature. Mercury which exists in a liquid state at room temperature is an exception.

Chemical properties

  • Metals are easily corrodible. Corrosion is defined as the process in which a metal naturally gets converted into oxide, sulfide, or hydroxide leading to its destruction. Example: Rusting of Iron.
  • Metals lose their electrons while interacting with a non-metal.
  • Metals react with oxygen to form basic oxides. Aluminum oxide and zinc oxide are examples of such amphoteric oxides.
  • Ability of an atom to attract electrons for forming a chemical bond is referred to as its electronegativity. Metals have low electronegativity. 


Non-metals occupy the left side of the periodic table. They do not conduct heat or electricity. They are neither malleable or ductile in nature.

Majority of them exist in the gaseous state. Oxygen, carbon are examples of non-metals.

Properties of Non-Metals

Non-metals have a wide variety of applications. Let’s take a look at some of the important physical and chemical properties of non-metals.

Physical properties

  • Non-metals are non-lustrous. Diamond and iodine are exceptions.
  • They are poor conductors of heat and electricity. Graphite, which is a very good conductor of electricity, is an exception.
  • Non-metals tend to have very low melting points and low densities as well.
  • Non-metals are brittle.
  • They do not produce any ringing sounds. They are non-sonorous.
  • Majority of the non-metals are present in the gaseous state.


Chemical properties

  • There are 4-8 electrons in the outer shell. Non-metals have the tendency to attract electrons. 
  • Non-metals have the ability to form charged ions while reacting with a metal.
  • They form acidic oxides while reacting with oxygen.
  • They tend to have high electronegativity. 

Check your knowledge

 Answer) Electronegativity is defined as the ability of an atom to attract electrons for forming a chemical bond. 

Answer) Due to their lustrous property, gold and silver are shiny and attractive.

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