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Uses of Metals and Nonmetals

Nonmetals can be defined as the elements that form negative ions by accepting electrons from other elements. They usually have 4,5,6 or 7 electrons in their valence shell. nonmetals lack metallic characteristics. These elements are located at the upper right corner of the modern periodic table. Examples of nonmetals are nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, sulphur, etc. At room temperature, most of the nonmetals are gases or solids. The only liquid non-metal at room temperature is Bromine. They are good insulators of heat and electricity with an exception of graphite and diamond. Graphite and diamond are excellent conductors of heat and electricity.


What are the Characteristics of Nonmetals?

Non-metallic characteristics are as follows:

  • Non-metallic atoms are much smaller in size as compared to metallic atoms.

  • They are non-lustrous and have a dull appearance. An exception to this characteristic is diamond and iodine which being nonmetals are lustrous.

  • nonmetals have low tensile strength. Graphite and diamond which are allotropes of carbon have very high tensile strength.

  • Nonmetals are soft but a diamond is the hardest known substance on earth.

  • Nonmetals are non-malleable and non-ductile.

  • They are brittle in nature.

What are the Uses of Nonmetals?

There are varied uses of nonmetals. These can be listed down as follows:

  • Nitrogen is used for making nitrogenous fertilizers which are essential for plant growth. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth. Nitrogen is also used in food packaging.


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  • Oxygen is the life-sustaining gas in the atmosphere. Oxygen is required for every organism for respiration. It is a supporter of combustion and is required for the combustion of fuels. Oxygen is used for the cutting and welding process. Oxyacetylene torches are used for this purpose.

  • Hydrogen is used for the manufacture of ammonia which is an important compound through Haber’s process. Hydrogen is used as a source of energy. It is used to convert heavy petroleum into a lighter one.

  • Phosphorus is also an essential nutrient for plant growth. It is also an important component of fertilizers for plant growth. Phosphorus is also used in manufacturing firecrackers.

  • Chlorine is a non-metal used in the purification of drinking water. It acts as a disinfectant. Chlorine is also used as a bleaching agent which is used to remove stains. It is also a component of insecticides. It is also used in the preparation of polymers.

  • Well, if your question is which non metal is used as fuel, the answer is carbon. Oxidation of carbon is the principle for working these fuels. Carbon-based fuels are of two types- biofuels and fossil fuels.

  • Bromine is used in the manufacturing of batteries, dyes, drugs and photography. Silver bromide is used for photography.

  • Iodine is used as an antiseptic in the form of tincture iodine. Iodised salt is taken in the diet to maintain the balance of thyroxine hormone in the human body.

  • Sulphur is used in the vulcanization of rubber. It is a component of black gunpowder. Sulphuric acid is used for the production of batteries. Insecticides and fungicides have sulphur as a component. Fireworks have sulphur in them. Certain medications also have sulphur in them especially medicines treating skin problems like scabies and dermatitis.

Interesting Facts on Nonmetals

  • nonmetals gain metallic properties when subjected to very high pressure.

  • Two nonmetals, hydrogens and helium constitute over 99% of the observable mass of the Universe.

  • Oxygen constitutes half of the earth's crust, oceans and atmosphere.

nonmetals are of vital importance to mankind. They are necessary for sustaining life on earth. There are varied uses of nonmetals in various fields. These nonmetals are also necessary for the biological system. Most of these nonmetals are present in the human body in certain percentages. These have certain important roles to play in human physiology. These are also required in plant physiology.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Uses of Metals and Nonmetals?

Ans: Both metals and nonmetals have several uses. Electrical wires, cooking utensils, and several objects used in daily life are made up of copper and aluminium. Zinc is used as a protective covering over iron. Iron is another extremely important metal used for various purposes. It is used to make utensils, it is used for making armours and weapons, etc. It is used to manufacture ammonia as a catalyst which is an important fertilizer. A huge number of metals exist on the earth. These are used for various purposes. 

The number of nonmetals is much lesser than metals. However, nonmetals are of equal importance to mankind. nonmetals include oxygen which is a life-supporting gas necessary for the existence of life on earth. Other nonmetals like nitrogen are of significant use to plants. Nitrogen works as a diluent in the atmosphere which dilutes oxygen which is a combustion supporter. Other nonmetals like chlorine, bromine, iodine, hydrogen, sulphur, phosphorus are widely used for various purposes.

2. Enumerate Example of Non Metal Objects.

Ans: nonmetals constitute various kinds of objects used by us. Few non-metallic objects are pencil made of wood and graphite (an allotrope of carbon), plastic which are made up of polymeric material which requires chlorine for synthesis. Poly-vinyl chloride is used for the production of pipelines used for the plumbing system in our households.

3. Give the Uses of Non-metals in our Daily Life.

Ans: Nonmetals are used widely in our daily lives. We breathe in oxygen for our survival which is non-metal. Nitrogen is of vital importance to plant physiology and agriculture. Noble gases like argon, xenon are used to construct glowing sign boards which are used for advertisement purposes. Chlorine, a nonmetal, is used for the purification of drinking water. Iodine is used as an antiseptic for application on the wound. It prevents microbial growth on the wound. It is also used for the preparation of anti-bacterial gurgles for the production of throat Infection. Carbon, a nonmetal is an element around which the whole of the organic world is composed of. Carbon is the constituent of every organic compound. Carbon is also used for manufacturing carbon fibre which is used for making fishing rods, rockets, aeroplanes, etc.

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