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Metals and Non-Metals Introductory Chemistry Tutorial

Key Concepts

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Properties of Metallic and Non-Metallic Elements

Some properties of metallic elements and non-metallic elements are given in the table below:

Properties of Metals and Non-metals
Property Metallic Elements Non-Metallic Elements
(physical property)
lustrous dull
(physical property)
moderate to high low to moderate
Physical State
(25°C, 101.3kPa)
(physical property)
solid (except liquid mercury) solid, liquid or gas
Melting and Boiling Point
(physical property)
moderate to high wide range
Heat and Electrical Conductivity
(physical property)
good poor (except graphite)
Tensile Strength (resistance to bending)
(physical property)
high brittle
Malleability (roll into sheets)
(physical property)
malleable not malleable
Ductility (draw into wire)
(physical property)
ductile not ductile
Charge on Ions (in general)(1)
(chemical property)
forms positive ions
forms negative ions
Bonding in oxides and chlorides
(chemical property)
usually ionic(2) covalent
pH of oxides
(chemical property)
usually basic(3) usually acidic

Comparing the Properties of Some Metallic Elements and Non-metallic Elements

The table below compares the properties of the metallic elements magnesium and zinc with the properties of the non-metallic elements oxygen and sulfur:

Property Metal Non-Metal
magnesium zinc oxygen sulfur
Density (g mL-1) 1.74 7.14 0.0013 2.07
Melting Point (°C) 650 419 -219 113
Electrical Conductivity (megaohm-1) 23 16 0 10-21
Charge on Ion 2+ 2+ 2- 2-
Bonding in Oxides MgO

Notice that:

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Position of Metallic and Non-Metallic Elements in the Periodic Table

Metals Metals occur on the left hand side of the Periodic Table.
Non-metals Non-metals occur on the right hand side of the Periodic Table.
Semi-metals (metalloids) with properties in between metals and non-metals occur between these two groups. (B, Si, Ge, As, Sb, Te)

metals non-metals H
Li Be   B C N O F Ne
Na Mg   Al Si P S Cl Ar
K Ca Transition Metals Ga Ge As Se Br Kr
Rb Sr Transition Metals In Sn Sb Te I Xe
Cs Ba Transition Metals Tl Pb Bi Po At Rn
Fr Ra Transition Metals            

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(1) Some non-metals can form positive or negative ions, for example, hydrogen can form the ions H+ and H-

(2) Some metal oxides are covalent, for example, Al2O3

(3) Some metal oxides are amphoteric (both acidic and basic), for example, Al2O3