Metals and Non-metals

Metals and Non-metals

Table of Contents

Introduction to Metals and Non-metals

Metals are elements that are typically shiny, malleable, and good conductors of heat and electricity. They are found on the left and center of the periodic table.

Non-metals are elements that are generally poor conductors of heat and electricity, and they can be found on the right side of the periodic table.

Importance of Metals:

  • Construction: Used in buildings, bridges, and infrastructure.
  • Transportation: Key components in vehicles, trains, and airplanes.
  • Electronics: Essential for making wires, circuits, and electronic devices.
  • Medicine: Used in medical instruments and implants.
  • Energy: Used in batteries and as catalysts in chemical reactions.

Importance of Non-metals:

  • Life Support: Oxygen, a non-metal, is essential for human survival.
  • Electronics: Used in semiconductors and insulating materials.
  • Water Treatment: Chlorine, a non-metal, is used for disinfection.
  • Agriculture: Essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are non-metals.
  • Household Items: Used in plastics, fabrics, and cleaning products.

Classification of Metals

Definition of Metals

  • Metals are a class of elements characterized by their ability to conduct electricity and heat, and typically have a shiny appearance.

Physical Properties of Metals

  • Conductivity: Metals are good conductors of electricity and heat.
  • Luster: Many metals have a shiny or metallic appearance.
  • Malleability: Metals can be hammered or rolled into thin sheets without breaking.
  • Ductility: Metals can be drawn into wires.
  • Density: Metals are generally dense, meaning they have a high mass per unit volume.
  • Melting and Boiling Points: Metals usually have high melting and boiling points.

Chemical Properties of Metals

  • Reactivity: Most metals react with acids to produce hydrogen gas.
  • Oxidation: Metals tend to form positive ions (cations) by losing electrons.
  • Corrosion: Metals can corrode or rust when exposed to moisture and oxygen.
  • Alloy Formation: Metals can be combined with other elements to form alloys, which often have enhanced properties compared to pure metals.
  • Electropositivity: Metals have a tendency to donate electrons and form positive ions.

Types of Metals

1. Alkali Metals

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  • Highly reactive metals found in Group 1 of the periodic table.
  • Examples include lithium (Li), sodium (Na), and potassium (K).
  • They are soft and have low melting points.
  • They react vigorously with water to produce hydrogen gas and form alkaline solutions.
2. Alkaline Earth Metals

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  • Less reactive than alkali metals but still quite reactive.
  • Found in Group 2 of the periodic table.
  • Examples include calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and barium (Ba).
  • They are harder and have higher melting points compared to alkali metals.
  • They also react with water but less vigorously than alkali metals.
3. Transition Metals

Periodic Table

  • Found in the middle of the periodic table, specifically in Groups 3-12.
  • They are hard, shiny, and good conductors of heat and electricity.
  • Examples include iron (Fe), copper (Cu), and gold (Au).
  • They often exhibit multiple oxidation states and form colored compounds.
4. Post-transition Metals
  • Found adjacent to the transition metals, usually after them.
  • Examples include aluminum (Al), tin (Sn), and lead (Pb).
  • They are less metallic in character compared to transition metals.
  • They have lower melting points and are soft and malleable.
5. Lanthanides and Actinides
  • Lanthanides are located in the f-block of the periodic table, from cerium (Ce) to lutetium (Lu).
  • Actinides are also in the f-block, from actinium (Ac) to lawrencium (Lr).
  • They are rare earth elements and are often used in high-tech applications and nuclear energy.
  • Examples include neodymium (Nd) from the lanthanide series and uranium (U) from the actinide series.

Classification of Non-metals

  • Non-metals are elements that do not have the characteristics of metals.
  • They are generally poor conductors of heat and electricity.
Physical Properties of Non-metals
  • State: Most non-metals exist in gaseous or solid state at room temperature, with the exception of bromine, which is a liquid.
  • Luster: Non-metals have no metallic luster; they are dull in appearance.
  • Malleability and Ductility: Unlike metals, non-metals are brittle and cannot be hammered into thin sheets or drawn into wires.
  • Density: Non-metals generally have lower densities compared to metals.
Chemical Properties of Non-metals
  • Reactivity: Non-metals tend to be reactive with other elements, especially metals.
  • Electronegativity: They usually have higher electronegativity values, meaning they attract electrons more strongly.
  • Ionization: Non-metals tend to gain electrons to form negative ions (anions) rather than lose electrons to form positive ions (cations).
  • Acidity: Non-metals form acidic oxides when they react with oxygen.

Types of Non-metals

Noble gases
  • Definition: Noble gases are a group of non-metals that are inert and rarely react with other elements.
  • Examples: Helium (He), Neon (Ne), Argon (Ar), Krypton (Kr), Xenon (Xe), Radon (Rn).
  • Use: They are used in lighting, welding, and cryogenics.
  • Definition: Halogens are highly reactive non-metals that form salts when they react with metals.
  • Examples: Fluorine (F), Chlorine (Cl), Bromine (Br), Iodine (I), Astatine (At).
  • Use: Commonly used in disinfectants, bleaches, and medicines.
Oxygen group
  • Definition: This group consists of non-metals that form oxides when they react with metals.
  • Examples: Oxygen (O), Sulfur (S), Selenium (Se), Tellurium (Te), Polonium (Po).
  • Use: Oxygen is essential for respiration, while sulfur is used in chemical production.
Nitrogen group
  • Definition: The nitrogen group consists of non-metals that form nitrides when they react with metals.
  • Examples: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Arsenic (As), Antimony (Sb), Bismuth (Bi).
  • Use: Nitrogen is a vital component of fertilizers, and phosphorus is used in matches and detergents.
Carbon group
  • Definition: The carbon group includes non-metals that are essential for organic chemistry.
  • Examples: Carbon (C), Silicon (Si), Germanium (Ge), Tin (Sn), Lead (Pb).
  • Use: Carbon is the basis for life and forms the backbone of organic molecules. Silicon is used in electronics.

Uses of Non-metals

Industrial Applications of Non-metals:

  1. Insulators: Non-metals like rubber and plastic are used as insulating materials in electrical and electronic industries to prevent the flow of electricity.

  2. Corrosion Resistance: Non-metals such as graphite and ceramics are resistant to corrosion and are used in making corrosion-resistant coatings and components.

  3. Refractories: Some non-metals like silica are used in the manufacturing of refractory materials used in furnaces and kilns due to their high melting points.

  4. Chemical Processing: Non-metals like sulfur and chlorine are used in various chemical processes and industries for manufacturing of chemicals like sulfuric acid and PVC.

Importance of Non-metals in Agriculture:

  1. Fertilizers: Non-metals like nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur are essential components of fertilizers that enhance soil fertility and crop yield.

  2. Pesticides: Some non-metals like sulfur are used in the production of pesticides to control pests and diseases in crops.

  3. Soil Treatment: Non-metals like lime (calcium carbonate) are used to neutralize acidic soils and improve soil quality for better crop growth.

Role of Non-metals in Technology:

  1. Semiconductors: Non-metals like silicon and germanium are used as semiconductors in electronic devices like transistors and diodes.

  2. Optical Fibers: Non-metals like glass and plastic are used in the manufacturing of optical fibers for telecommunications and data transmission.

  3. Batteries: Non-metals like sulfur and lithium are used in the production of batteries for storing and supplying electrical energy in various electronic devices.

  4. Solar Panels: Some non-metals like silicon are used in the production of solar panels due to their photovoltaic properties.

Comparison between Metals and Non-metals

Differences in Physical Properties:

  • Metals: Usually solid at room temperature (except mercury).
  • Non-metals: Can be solid, liquid (like bromine), or gas at room temperature.
  • Metals: Shiny appearance.
  • Non-metals: Dull or non-shiny.
  • Metals: Can be hammered or rolled into thin sheets.
  • Non-metals: Generally brittle and break into pieces when hammered.
  • Metals: Good conductors of heat and electricity.
  • Non-metals: Poor conductors; some are insulators.
  • Metals: Generally high density.
  • Non-metals: Lower density compared to metals.
  • Differences in Chemical Properties:
Reaction with Oxygen:
  • Metals: Typically form metal oxides when reacting with oxygen.
  • Non-metals: Form non-metallic oxides.
  • Reaction with Water:
  • Metals: Can react with water to form metal hydroxides and release hydrogen gas.
  • Non-metals: Generally do not react with water, except for some.
Reaction with Acids:
  • Metals: Can react with acids to produce salt and hydrogen gas.
  • Non-metals: Generally do not react with acids.
  • Metals: Have low electronegativity.
  • Non-metals: Have high electronegativity.
Importance of metals and non-metals


  • Construction: Used in building structures and infrastructure.
  • Transportation: Key components in vehicles, ships, and aircraft.
  • Electronics: Essential for making wires, circuits, and devices.


  • Agriculture: Used in fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Healthcare: Essential for medicines, vitamins, and medical equipment.
  • Technology: Important in producing plastics, ceramics, and semiconductors.


In conclusion, metals and non-metals are two distinct categories of elements with unique properties and roles in nature and industry. Understanding their properties, reactivity, and environmental impact is essential for their sustainable use and management.

  • Elements that are generally hard, shiny, and good conductors of heat and electricity.
  • Malleable, ductile, and have a high density.
  • Vary in reactivity; some react vigorously with water and acids.


Elements can be broadly classified into two main categories based on their physical and chemical properties:

  • Metals: These are generally shiny, solid elements at room temperature (except mercury, which is a liquid). They are good conductors of heat and electricity, malleable (can be hammered into thin sheets), and ductile (can be drawn into wires).
  • Non-metals: These elements can exist as solids, liquids, or gases at room temperature. They are typically poor conductors of heat and electricity, dull or non-shiny, and brittle (break easily).

The 22 non-metals on the periodic table are:

  • Hydrogen (H)
  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Oxygen (O)
  • Fluorine (F)
  • Chlorine (Cl)
  • Helium (He)
  • Neon (Ne)
  • Argon (Ar)
  • Krypton (Kr)
  • Xenon (Xe)
  • Radon (Rn)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Sulfur (S)
  • Selenium (Se)
  • Iodine (I)
  • Boron (B)
  • Carbon (C)
  • Silicon (Si)
  • Germanium (Ge)
  • Arsenic (As)
  • Tellurium (Te)
  • Astatine (At)
  • Metals: Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), Aluminum (Al), Gold (Au), Silver (Ag), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Lead (Pb), Tungsten (W), Titanium (Ti)
  • Non-metals: Oxygen (O), Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Sulfur (S), Chlorine (Cl), Helium (He), Neon (Ne), Iodine (I)

Here’s a table summarizing the key differences:

Physical State (at room temperature)Mostly solids (except mercury)Solids, liquids, or gases
ConductivityGood conductors of heat and electricityPoor conductors of heat and electricity (except for some like graphite)
ShineShiny/lustrousDull or non-shiny (except for iodine)
Malleability & DuctilityMalleable and ductileBrittle (break easily)
Chemical BondingMetallic bonding (delocalized electrons)Covalent or ionic bonding


1. Which of the following is a characteristic property of metals?

A. Brittle
B. Poor conductor of electricity
C. Malleable
D. Dull appearance
Answer: C. Malleable

2. What do non-metals generally act as when forming compounds?

A. Positive ions
B. Negative ions
C. Neutral atoms
D. Free electrons
Answer: B. Negative ions

3. Which element is a non-metal at room temperature?

A. Iron
B. Carbon
C. Copper
D. Silver
Answer: B. Carbon

4. Which of these is a physical property of metals?

A. Low density
B. Poor conductor of heat
C. Dull appearance
D. High density
Answer: D. High density

5. What is the state of most non-metals at room temperature?

A. Solid
B. Liquid
C. Gas
D. Plasma
Answer: C. Gas

6. Which metal is known for being the best conductor of electricity?

A. Copper
B. Aluminum
C. Gold
D. Iron
Answer: C. Gold

7. Non-metals are generally ________.

A. Malleable
B. Brittle
C. Shiny
D. Good conductors of electricity
Answer: B. Brittle

8. Which element is a metalloid?

A. Oxygen
B. Silicon
C. Hydrogen
D. Nitrogen
Answer: B. Silicon

9. Which is a property of metals regarding electrons?

A. Gain electrons
B. Lose electrons
C. Share electrons
D. Neutral atoms
Answer: B. Lose electrons

10. What type of ions do metals generally form?

A. Negative (anions)
B. Positive (cations)
C. Neutral
D. Covalent
Answer: B. Positive (cations)

11. What is the primary use of copper due to its property?

A. Insulation
B. Conductivity
C. Construction
D. Decoration
Answer: B. Conductivity

12. Which substance is a non-metal used in making fertilizers?

A. Sodium
B. Chlorine
C. Magnesium
D. Calcium
Answer: B. Chlorine

13. Which metal is essential for the human body’s oxygen transport?

A. Iron
B. Zinc
C. Aluminum
D. Lead
Answer: A. Iron

14. Which of the following is a non-metal used in pencils?

A. Graphite
B. Silver
C. Gold
D. Platinum
Answer: A. Graphite

15. Which element is a metal and is used in making wires?

A. Zinc
B. Nickel
C. Aluminum
D. Sulfur
Answer: C. Aluminum

16. What happens to metals when they react with acids?

A. They gain electrons
B. They lose electrons
C. They remain neutral
D. They form covalent bonds
Answer: B. They lose electrons

17. Which non-metal is essential for all living organisms?

A. Oxygen
B. Carbon
C. Hydrogen
D. Nitrogen
Answer: A. Oxygen

18. Which metal is commonly used in batteries?

A. Silver
B. Lithium
C. Platinum
D. Gold
Answer: B. Lithium

19. Which property of metals allows them to be hammered into thin sheets?

A. Ductility
B. Brittleness
C. Hardness
D. Conductivity
Answer: A. Ductility

20. What is the color of most non-metals in their elemental form?

A. Shiny
B. Dull
C. Yellow
D. Blue
Answer: B. Dull

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