Easy Guide to Metals and Nonmetals

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We have encountered the terms ‘METALS’ and ‘NONMETALS’ many times. Can you look around and see if they exist in your surroundings or not? What is your table made up of? What about the oxygen you breathe in and the Carbon Dioxide you breathe out? What are these elements? Are they Metals or Non-metals?

There is a variety of material present around us that can be grouped under metals and non-metals. These substances surround us. Materials such as wood, wires, utensils, cupboards, etc., are some such examples. Whether at home, school, office, or even on the streets, we are surrounded by metals and non-metals.

Our containers where we store our materials could also be made of metals and non-metals such as plastic, glass, or any other material. This means these substances are an integral part of our lives. Firstly, let us have a close look at metals and non-metals.

To know that, take a look at this article on the Difference Between Metals And Nonmetals

Properties of Metals and Non-Metals


Metals are materials or substances that possess certain characteristics such as hard, shiny, ductile, malleable, etc. Some examples of metal are Silver, Gold, Aluminum, Iron, Copper, Steel, etc. They are naturally occurring substances. They take their shape and possess a solid nature. If you have gone through the periodic table, you will find most of the elements are either metal or non-metal. 

Now, let’s have a look at the properties of Metal: 

Properties of Metal – 

Two types of properties of the metal are: 

  • Physical Properties
  • Chemical Properties

1. Physical Properties of Metal

  • State – The Metal owns a property of the solid-state. All the metals except Mercury are in a solid-state. Mercury is found in a liquid state at room temperature, while others are in a solid-state at room temperature. Other metals apart from Mercury found in liquid form are Sodium (Na) and Potassium (K). These are also in a different state at room temperature. You can easily cut them with the help of a knife. Examples of other metals found in solid-state are Calcium, Gold, Copper, Iron, Silver, etc. 
  • Conductivity – Metals are considered good conductors of heat and electricity, which means electricity can pass through them very easily. Copper and Silver are considered one of the best conductors of electricity. On the other hand, Mercury and lead are poor conductors of electricity; hence, it does not easily pass through them. Apart from this, Metals are also known for their highest melting point. This means that they can easily melt when they come in contact with fire. In exception, a few metals such as Galium & Cesium have a relatively low melting point and do not respond well to heat.
  • Lustrous –  As mentioned above, metals have a shiny surface feature. They are usually shiny when found in their pure form. It looks like a metallic lustre. The main reason for their shiny surface is the electrons present that comes in contact with light. This makes them shine more. 
  • Malleable & Ductile -This feature helps the metal to break down into thin sheets. One of the best examples is silver. You might often have seen a layer of silver on sweets or foil paper to wrap your food in. Silver is beaten to turn into foil paper. This means it is malleable. Similar to this, various other metals are malleable. 

Metals are also ductile. This means they can be drawn into wire. We have often seen wires made of copper and iron. These metals are used in creating wires as they have good electrical conductivity. 

2. Chemical Properties of Metal

  • Reaction with Water – Some metals react with water while others do not Eg. Sodium reacts strongly with oxygen and water while others do not. 
  • It displaces hydrogen from dilute acids. 
  • They usually do not combine with hydrogen. Some of the metals do combine with hydrogen to form ionic metal hydrides. 
  • With Chlorine, metals form ionic chlorides. 
  • They also form basic oxides. 

Uses of Metals : 

Metals are often used in making household utensils. They are also used as industrial gadgets, water boilers, automobiles & machinery. Most of the electrical equipment is also made of metal due to their excellent conductivity with heat & electricity. 


Non-Metals are just the opposite of Metals. Whatever properties we have seen for metal, non -metals are opposite & have total opposite features. This means they are not ductile or shiny. Non-Metals such as sulphur and coal are quite soft. They also have a dull appearance. 

Properties of Non-Metal –

Here are some chemical and physical properties of Non-Metal

  • The non-metals are brittle and soft. They can be easily broken into pieces.
  • They are poor conductors of heat and electricity
  • They are nonmalleable.
  • They are non-ductile as well.
  • They have a rough surface and are do not have any lustre.
  • They react with water and air easily. Wood perishes into water easily, and coal dissolves in water

Uses of Non-Metal:

  • They are essential for respiration
  • Sulpher is a non-metal and is used in making crackers
  • Some non-metals are helpful for purification, such as chlorine. 
  • They are also used as fertilisers for good soil fertility. Nitrogen and phosphorous are used as fertilisers. 
  • Few non-metals are sulphur, phosphorous, carbon, oxygen and many more.
  • There are various other non-metals used for medicinal purposes.


By now, you have learned about Metal and Non-Metals. You know various types of metals, their physical and chemical properties, and their reactions to air and water. Go through this article carefully to grasp the concepts. You can refer to examples to memorise them for a longer duration. 

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