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Metals and Non-Metals

Key Concepts

Elements can be classified as metals or non-metals on the basis of their properties.

Physical properties include:

  • appearance

  • density

  • melting and boiling point

  • conductivity of heat and electricity

  • tensile strength (resistance to bending)

  • malleability (ability to roll into sheets)

  • ductility (ability to draw into a wire)

Chemical properties include:

  • charge on ions formed from the element

  • type of bonding found in the element's oxides and chlorides

  • pH of the element's oxide

Metals are found on the left hand side of the Periodic Table while non-metals are found on the right hand side.

Properties of Metallic and Non-Metallic Elements

Property Metallic Elements Non-Metallic Elements
(physical property)
lustrous dull
(physical property)
moderate to high low to moderate
Physical State
(25oC, 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)*
(chemical property)
forms positive ions forms negative ions
Bonding in oxides and chlorides
(chemical property)
usually ionic** covalent
pH of oxides
(chemical property)
usually basic*** usually acidic

*some non-metals can form positive or negative ions, eg, H+ and H-
**some metal oxides are covalent, eg, Al2O3
***some metal oxides are amphoteric (both acidic and basic), eg, Al2O3

Examples of Metals and Non-metals

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

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 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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