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Difference Between Metals and Non-Metals for JEE Main 2024

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Last updated date: 09th Apr 2024
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Introduction

A physical substance that has mass and occupies space is called matter. Matter is available in three forms, viz., elements, compound, and mixture. Elements are the purest forms of the matter among these three forms and again fall into three categories; metals, non-metals and metalloids. These three elements are bifurcated on the basis of their physical and chemical properties. A majority of elements present in nature can be categorized as metals and non-metals on the basis of their physical and chemical properties. The list of metals and nonmetals in the periodic table has 91 metals and 17 non-metals. Though there are more metals than non-metals, two non-metals helium and hydrogen make up 99% of the universe. Metals make up 25% of the earth’s crust while non-metals make up 75% of the earth’s crust. Also, non-metals make many more compounds as compared to metals.

A physical substance that has mass and occupies space is called matter. Matter is available in three forms, viz., elements, compound, and mixture. Elements are the purest forms of the matter among these three forms and again fall into three categories; metals, non-metals and metalloids. These three elements are bifurcated on the basis of their physical and chemical properties. A majority of elements present in nature can be categorized as metals and non-metals on the basis of their physical and chemical properties. The list of metals and nonmetals in the periodic table has 91 metals and 17 non-metals. Though there are more metals than non-metals, two non-metals helium and hydrogen make up 99% of the universe. Metals make up 25% of the earth’s crust while non-metals make up 75% of the earth’s crust. Also, non-metals make many more compounds as compared to metals.

Definition of Metal

Metals are elements that are lustrous, solid, opaque and high in density. The boiling and melting points of metals are very high. Also, they are the effective conductors of electricity and heat. They are ductile (can be drawn into thin wires) and malleable (beaten in thin sheets). As they have a tendency to form cations by losing valence electrons they are known as reducing agents. The example of metals is gold, silver, nickel, lead, copper, magnesium, cobalt, iron, zinc, aluminum etc. As they are hard in nature, they are used in agricultural equipment, water boilers, making machinery, industrial equipment, automobiles, airplanes, utensils etc. 

Definition of Non-Metal

Non-metals are natural elements which do not have metallic properties. Often, they are available in the solid or gaseous state. In this type of elements, bromine is an exception as it exists in liquid state. They are good insulators of electricity and heat, non-lustrous (iodine is an exception) and soft in nature. The example of non-metals is oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, xenon, argon, chlorine etc.  The structure of atoms in non-metals is amorphous or non-crystalline. They are highly electronegative and have low ionization energy. They are soft in nature so used in purification of water, making fertilizers, crackers etc. For example, nitrogen and phosphorus (in the form of nitrates and phosphates) are used as fertilizers, carbon is used as fuel and bromine is used to make chemical dyes.

Key Differences Between Metals and Non-metals

The key difference between metals and non-metals are as following:

  • Metals have a crystalline structure, on the other side non-metal have amorphous structure.

  • Metals are hard, opaque, shiny and dense natural elements whereas non-metals are soft, transparent, and non-shiny (except graphite that has luster) and brittle. 

  • Metals are normally solids at room temperature. Exceptions are mercury and gallium which also exist in liquid state, whereas non-metal can be available in solid or gaseous state at room temperature, except bromine. 

  • Metals are known as reducing agents as they easily lose electron due to their electropositive behavior in nature whereas non-metals are known as oxidizing agents as they are electronegative in nature and gain electrons.

  • A ratio of mass to volume is known as density. Metal have high density than non-metals.

  • Metals are shiny and smooth whereas non-metal are dull in appearance.

A Table to describe Difference between Metals and Non-Metals

Comparison

Metals 

Non-metals

Exceptions

Definition

Generally hard, opaque, shiny and dense elements.

Generally soft, transparent, brittle, and non-shiny elements. 

Mercury is a metal that exists as liquid at room temperature.

Diamond is the hardest substance on earth, which is made up of non-metal.

Structure

Crystalline

Amorphous

Carbon allotrope, diamond is not amorphous. 

Nature

Electropositive 

Electronegative


Density

High

Low


Hardness

Very Hard

Soft 

Sodium is soft metal.

Diamond is the hardest material, but made up of a non-metal.

Appearance

Lustrous 

Non-lustrous

Graphite and iodine are lustrous non-metals.

Physical state at room temp.

Solid 

Solid or gas 

Mercury and gallium are liquid at room temperature.

Bromine is a non-metal which exists as liquid at room temperature.

Malleability

Malleable

Non-Malleable


Sonorous

Sonorous

Non-Sonorous


Ductility

Ductile

Non-Ductile


Melting and boiling point

Very high

Low

Diamond has high melting point. 

Conductor

Good conductor of electricity and heat

Poor conductor of electricity and heat

Graphite, a non-metal, conducts electricity.

Electron

1 to 3 electrons in the outer shell

4 to 8 electrons in the outer shell


Oxygen 

Form basic oxides with oxygen

Form acidic oxides with oxygen


Acid 

Reaction with acids gives hydrogen gas

Do not react with acids normally. 



Properties of Metals and Non-metals

  • Metals are generally hard substances. Non-metals are soft substances, except diamond which is the hardest substance on the earth. 

  • Metal have a characteristic of malleability that converted metal in a thin sheet when treated by a hammer. But non-metals are brittle in nature and broke down into pieces when treated by hammer. 

  • Metals have a property of ductility due to that we can draw metals into wires, but non-metals do not show this type of property. 

  • Metals are highly reflective while non-metals have low to zero reflectiveness.

  • Metals have a property of sonorous in which metals produced a deep or ringing sound, but non-metals do not have such property.

  • Metals have closely packed crystal structures with high co-ordination numbers while non-metals have open structures with low co-ordination numbers.

  • Heat and electricity conduction is supported by metals; this is why metal wires are used to make electrical wires, whereas non-metals behave as insulators and do not support heat and electricity conduction. 

  • Metals have a property of having a high boiling and melting point where as non-metal needs a relatively low temperature to get boiled and melted. 

  • Metals have a high risk of corrosion. Metals that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation are known as noble metals. These include gold, platinum, rhodium, palladium, and iridium. Non-metals have a lower risk of corrosion.

  • Metal have 1 to 3 electrons in the outer shell whereas non-metal have 4 to 8 electrons.

  • Metal oxide is formed when a metal reacts with oxygen and forms electrovalent or ionic bonds, e whereas non-metals form non-metal oxides when they react with oxygen and mostly form covalent bonds.

  • Metals produced hydrogen gas and salt when reacted with dilute acid, but non-metals do not react with dilute acid. 

In the world, all the objects are made from metals or non-metals. The elements that conducted the characteristics of both metals and non-metals are known as metalloid. It includes boron, silicon, germanium, arsenic etc.