Chemical Properties of Metals and Non-metals

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Metals and Nonmetals are the elements available around us. So, it is essential to know whether a particular element is a metal or nonmetal. Materials can be further divided into metals and nonmetals. The characteristic feature of metals such as aluminium and copper contains a high electrical and thermal conductivity, whereas nonmetals like sulfur and phosphorus metal are insulators. Elements are distinguished as either metals or nonmetals based on their properties.

An element is the simplest form of matter that cannot be possible to split into or built from simpler substances by any ordinary chemical or physical method. Metals and nonmetals are essential parts of our lives. We can’t survive without some nonmetals such as oxygen, and without the existence of metals, our survival would be tough.

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What are Metals?

The majority of the periodic table elements are metals. These include transition metals, lanthanides, alkali metals, actinides, and alkaline earth metals. In a periodic table, metals are separated by nonmetals through a zigzag line starting from carbon, till radon. The elements between the two are selenium, phosphorus, and iodine.

The elements of these kinds and the elements to the right to them in the periodic table are nonmetals. Elements that are just to the left of the line are known as semimetals or metalloids. These will have the mixed properties of both metals and nonmetals.

What are Nonmetals?

Nonmetals are very few numbers in the periodic table are. These are located on the right-hand side of the periodic table. Elements related under nonmetals are sulfur, carbon, phosphorus, all halogens, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, selenium, and noble gases.

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

Chemical Properties of Metals

A few of the chemical properties of metals are listed below.

  • Usually, the density of metals is high.

  • Metals are ductile and malleable.

  • Metals form an alloy either with other metals or nonmetals.

  • Some metals like iron react with air and corrode.

  • Metals except lead are good conductors of heat and electricity.

  • In general, except for Mercury, all other metals are in a solid-state at room temperature. But, Mercury belongs to a liquid state.

  • More metals produce metal oxide by burning in the oxygen of the air. Highly reactive metals react forcefully when they burnt in oxygen.

  • Metals like potassium and sodium are stored in oil as they react with air in seconds. They’ belong to highly reactive metals.

  • Less reactive metals like silver, gold, platinum, and other related ones do not tarnish easily. They stay lustrous and shiny.

  • Metals produce hydrogen gas and metal oxide while reacting with water.

  • Soluble metal oxides dissolve in water and form metal hydroxide.

  • Not every metal reacts with water. However, highly reactive metals such as sodium and potassium react with water violently, and an exothermic reaction takes place where the hydrogen catches fire immediately.

  • When a metal reacts with an acid, hydrogen, and salt are produced 

  • A metal generally displaces a less reactive metal in a metal salt solution.

Chemical Properties of Nonmetals

Some of the chemical properties of nonmetals are listed below.

  • Nonmetals except gas carbon and graphite are poor conductors of heat and electricity.

  • Unlike metals, nonmetals are not ductile and malleable.

  • Nonmetals react more with metals compared to nonmetals.

  • Nonmetals usually react with other nonmetals at high temperatures.

  • Most nonmetals do not react with air at room temperature.

  • The only nonmetal is the white phosphorus that reacts with air to form its oxide by burning.

  • Nonmetals usually don’t react with water. Except for chlorine, chlorine dissolves in water to produce an acidic solution.

  • Nonmetals have a low density compared to metals.

  • Nonmetals do not form alloys. However, some like carbon, silicon, and phosphorous can form.

  • At room temperature, nonmetals exist in all states of matter.

  • Different nonmetals always have different reactions.

  • In the halogen family, the most reactive metal is chlorine i.e., Bromine (Br), Iodine (I), Chlorine (Cl), and Fluorine (F). The halogen family’s reactivity order is Cl > Br > I.

  • Thus, Chlorine (Cl) can displace Bromine (Br) and Iodine (I) from solutions of Iodides (NaI) and bromides (NaBr).

  • Ionic solids are formed when nonmetals containing high electronegativity react with alkaline earth metals and alkali.

The difference between chemical properties of metal and nonmetals are tabulated below.

Difference Between Chemical Properties of Metal and Nonmetals



Metals are easily corrodible.

Nonmetals are not easily corrodible.

They have 1, 2 or 3 electrons in the valence shell. So they can lose electrons easily.

Nonmetals own  more than 4 electrons in their valence shell. So they can easily gain electrons.

Metals produce the basic oxides

These forms acidic oxide.

They are electropositive in nature

These are electronegative in nature.

These acts as a good reducing agent.

They act as a great oxidizing agent.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. List Out the Difference Between Chemical Properties of Metal and Nonmetals?

All the metals react with oxygen to produce metal oxides.

  • All non-metals react with oxygen to produce acidic or neutral oxides. Whereas metals react with water to form a metal oxide or metal hydroxide and hydrogen gas.

  • Non-metals don’t react with water, but metals react with a dilute acid to produce hydrogen gas and a metal salt.

  • Non-metals don’t react with dilute acids, but all the metals react with chlorine to form ionic metal chlorides.

  • Non-metals react with chlorine to produce covalent chlorides. On the other hand, only a few metals like K, Na, Ca, and Mg react with hydrogen to produce metal hydrides.

  • Non-metals react with hydrogen for the production of covalent Hydrides.

Q2. Mention Some Examples of Metals and Nonmetals?

There are many examples of metals and nonmetals as per the periodic table. But a few of them are given below.

Metals include potassium, chromium, iron, sodium, uranium, zircon, thorium, cadmium zinc, tungsten, aluminium, magnesium, caesium, lanthanum, and more.

Nonmetals are all kinds of polymers and elastomers like polyurethane, polyacrylonitrile, polycarbonate, polyhedron, polyvinyl, garnet, mica, agate, rubbers of all kinds. Ceramics and glasses are also nonmetals.

Elements like fluorine, iodine, chlorine astatine, helium, xenon, hydrogen radon, and related ones are also nonmetals.