Properties of Metals and Non-Metals

The table below summarises the general properties of most metals and non-metals. 

PropertyMetalsNon-metals
Electrical conductivityGood conductors of electricityPoor conductors of electricity (electrical insulators)
Thermal conductivityGood conductors of heatPoor conductors of heat (thermal insulators)
BondingMetallic bonding between metalsCovalent bonding between non-metals
Type of oxideBasic oxidesAcidic oxides
Melting and boiling pointGenerally highGenerally low
DensityGenerally highGenerally low
State at room temperatureSolid (except mercury)Different states (solid, liquid and gas)
Malleability and ductilityMalleable and ductileBrittle
AppearanceShinyDull

The following definitions describe some of the different physical characteristics of substances.

  • Density – The mass of a substance relative to its size. A substance with high density has a large amount of mass in a given volume, whereas a substance with low density has less mass for the same volume.
  • Malleability – The ability of a substance to be hammered or bent without breaking or cracking. This property is typically found in metals and is a measure of their flexibility.
  • Ductility – The ability of a substance to be stretched into a wire when pulled. This property is also commonly found in metals and indicates their strength and durability.

However, there are exceptions; some metals and non-metals may display properties that deviate from the norm.

For example, mercury is a metal that has a low boiling point and is a liquid at room temperature. On the other hand, graphite, a form of the non-metal carbon, has a high boiling point and is a good conductor of electricity—properties usually associated with metals.

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