Properties of Metals and Nonmetals

Properties of elements distinguish them into metals and nonmetals. Such as metals are those elements which are malleable, ductile, sonorous and good conductors of heat and electricity. While nonmetals are those elements which are not malleable, ductile, sonorous and are poor conductors of heat and electricity. In this article we will discuss properties of metals and nonmetals and the difference between two on the basis of their properties (with exceptions) in detail. 


Properties of Nonmetals 

Chlorine, carbon, bromine, sulfur, phosphorous etc. are nonmetals. They show following properties –


Physical Properties Of Nonmetals:

  • Nonmetals cannot be hammered into thin sheets. It means they don’t possess the property of malleability. Instead they are brittle as they break down into pieces on hammering. 

  • Nonmetals are not ductile. They cannot be drawn into wires. 

  • Nonmetals are a poor conductor of heat and electricity. 

  • Nonmetals are not lustrous which means they are not shiny. Instead dull in appearance. 

  • Nonmetals have low tensile strength. It means they cannot hold heavy weights. 

  • Nonmetals are not sonorous. It means when we strike them, they do not make any sound. 

  • Nonmetals are soft. It means they can be cut by knife easily. 


Chemical Properties Of Nonmetals:

  • Reaction With Oxygen – Nonmetals react with oxygen and form nonmetallic oxides which are acidic in nature. 

Nonmetal + Oxygen 🡪 Nonmetal oxide 

Nonmetal oxide + water 🡪 Acid 

Example – Sulfur is a nonmetal and when it reacts with oxygen, it forms sulfur dioxide. When we dissolve sulfur dioxide in water, it gives sulfurous acid. Reactions are given below –

S + O2 🡪 SO2

SO2 + H2O 🡪 H2SO3

  • Aqueous solution of nonmetal oxide turns blue litmus paper into red. 

  • Nonmetals generally do not react with water. 

  • Nonmetals do not react with dilute acids although they can react with concentrated acids. 

Example – C + conc. 4HNO3 🡪 CO2 + 4NO2 + 2H2

  • Nonmetals react with strong bases but do not produce hydrogen gas. These reactions generally take place at high temperatures. 

Example – 4S + 8NaOH 🡪 Na2SO4 + 3Na2S + 4H2O (At >600 )

  • A more reactive nonmetal displaces a less reactive nonmetal from its salt solution. 

Example – Bromine is more reactive than iodine. So, it displaces iodine in potassium iodide compounds. Reaction is given below –

2KI + Br2 🡪 2KBr + I2


Properties of Metals 

Gold, aluminium, iron and magnesium etc. are metals. They show following properties –

Physical Properties of Metals:

  • Metals can be hammered into thin sheets. It means they possess the property of malleability. 

  • Metals are ductile. They can be drawn into wires. 

  • Metals are a good conductor of heat and electricity. 

  • Metals are lustrous which means they have a shiny appearance.  

  • Metals have high tensile strength. It means they can hold heavy weights. 

  • Metals are sonorous. It means when we strike them, they make a ringing sound. 

  • Metals are hard. It means they cannot be cut easily. 


Chemical Properties of Metals:

  • Reaction With Oxygen – Metals react with oxygen and form metallic oxides which are basic in nature. 

Metal + Oxygen 🡪 Metal oxide 

Metal oxide + water 🡪 Base 

Example –Magnesium is a metal and when it reacts with oxygen, it forms magnesium oxide. When we dissolve magnesium oxide in water, it gives magnesium hydroxide. Reactions are given below –

2Mg + O2 🡪 2MgO

MgO + H2O 🡪 Mg(OH)2

  • Aqueous solution of metal oxide turns red litmus paper into blue. 

  • Reaction with water - Metals react with water. When a metal reacts with water, metal hydroxide and hydrogen gas is formed. 

Metal + Water 🡪 Metal hydroxide + hydrogen  

Example – Sodium metal reacts with water and forms sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. Reaction is given below –

Na + H2O 🡪 NaOH + H2

  • Reaction With Acid - Metals react with acids and form salt and hydrogen gas. Some metals vigorously react with acids. 

Metal + Acid 🡪 Metal salt + hydrogen  

Example – Magnesium metal reacts with hydrochloric acid and forms magnesium chloride and hydrogen. Reaction is given below –

Mg + 2HCl 🡪 MgCl2 + H2

  • Reaction With Base - Metals react with bases such as sodium hydroxide and form salt and hydrogen gas. 

Metal + Base 🡪 Metal salt + hydrogen  

Example – Aluminium metal reacts with Sodium hydroxide and forms sodium aluminate and hydrogen gas. Reaction is given below –

Al + NaOH 🡪 NaAlO2 + H2 

  • Displacement Reaction - A more reactive metal displaces a less reactive metal from its salt solution. These types of reactions are called displacement reactions.  

Example – Iron is more reactive than copper. So, it displaces copper from its salt. Reaction is given below –

CuSO4 + Fe 🡪 FeSO4 + Cu


Difference Between Metals And Nonmetals 

We are differentiating metals and nonmetals through their physical and chemical properties. Here, we are providing the difference between metal and nonmetal in tabular manner with exceptions for your better understanding –

S.No. 

Property 

Metal 

Nonmetal 

Exceptions 

1

Malleability 

Malleable 

Not malleable 

-

2

Ductility 

Ductile 

Not ductile 

-

3

Brittle 

Not brittle 

Brittle 

-

4

Conductivity 

Good conductor of heat and electricity 

Poor conductor of heat and electricity

Diamond – A nonmetal but good conductor of heat.

Graphite – A nonmetal but good conductor of electricity. 

5

Luster

Lustrous 

Dull 

Diamond and Iodine – nonmetals but lustrous. 

6

Strength 

High tensile strength 

Low tensile strength 

Sodium and Potassium are metals but have low tensile strength. 

7

Sonority 

Sonorous 

Not sonorous 

-

8

Hardness 

Hard 

Soft 

Sodium and Potassium are metals but are soft and can be cut by knife. 

Diamond is a nonmetal but very hard substance. It is the hardest natural substance known. 

9

Reaction with oxygen 

Metal + Oxygen 🡪 Metal oxide 

2Mg + O2 🡪 2MgO


Nonmetal + Oxygen 🡪 Nonmetal oxide

S + O2 🡪 SO2


-

10

Reaction with water 

Metal + Water 🡪 Metal hydroxide + hydrogen  

Na + H2O 🡪 NaOH + H2


No reaction with water 

-

11

Reaction with acid 

Metal + Acid 🡪 Metal salt + hydrogen  

Mg + 2HCl 🡪 MgCl2 + H2


Nonmetals do not react with dilute acid but react with concentrated acid. 

C + conc. 4HNO3 🡪 CO2 + 4NO2 + 2H2O

-

12

Reaction with base 

Metal + Base 🡪 Metal salt + hydrogen  

Al + NaOH 🡪 NaAlO2 + H2 


React with strong bases and do not produce hydrogen gas. 

4S + 8NaOH 🡪 Na2SO4 + 3Na2S + 4H2O (At >600 )

-

13

Displacement reaction 

More reactive metal displaces less reactive metal from its salt. 

Iron is more reactive than Cu.

CuSO4 + Fe 🡪 FeSO4 + Cu


More reactive nonmetal displaces less reactive nonmetal from its salt.

Br is more reactive than Iodine. 

2KI + Br2 🡪 2KBr + I2

 

-

14

Nature of oxides 

Basic 

Acidic 

-

15

Action of oxides on litmus paper 

Metal oxides turn red litmus paper into blue. 

Nonmetal oxides turn blue litmus paper into red. 

-

16

Reactions of oxides with water 

Metal oxides react with water and form corresponding hydroxides. 

MgO + H2O 🡪 Mg(OH)2


Nonmetal oxides react with water and form acids. 

SO2 + H2O 🡪 H2SO3


-


This ends our coverage on the topic “Properties of Metals and Nonmetals”. We hope you enjoyed learning and were able to grasp the concepts. We hope after reading this article you will be able to solve problems based on the topic. If you are looking for solutions of NCERT Textbook problems based on this topic, then log on to Vedantu website or download Vedantu Learning App. By doing so, you will be able to access free PDFs of NCERT Solutions as well as Revision notes, Mock Tests and much more.