Properties of Metals and Non-metals

Everything on Earth is made up of atoms and the different types of atoms are called Elements. The staggered line below separates the metals from the non-metals.

To the left of the staggered red line are the metals and the right of it are the non-metals, except from hydrogen.

Metals

As mentioned, metals are found towards the left of the periodic table. When metals react, they form positive ions.

There are a wide range of metals, some that you will easily recognise, such as copper (Cu) or aluminium (Al). Then there are some elements you may not realise are metals, such as calcium (Ca) or potassium (K). However, all metals have similar properties

Metals have a bonding known as metallic bonding

They also have similar properties:

  • Able to conduct heat and electricity
  • High melting and boiling points
  • Strong and are malleable (able to bend)

Non-metals

Non-metals are found to the right of the periodic table. They tend to be more brittle compared to metals and tend to not conduct electricity.

Many of the non-metals are gases at room temperature. For example, oxygen (O) and chlorine (Cl). However, there are also some non-metals that are solid at room temperature, for example carbon (C)

Comparing Properties of Metals and Non-metals

All metals have similar properties and in the same way, all non-metals have similar properties. Below is the table comparing some of the general properties of metals and non-metals:

MetalsNon-metals
ShinyDull
High Melting pointsLow boiling points
Good conductor of electricityBad conductors of electricity
Good conductors of heatBad conductors of heat
High densityLow density
Malleable (You can hammer them into shape)Brittle
Ductile (Can be pulled out into wires)Brittle

The metals very close to the line that separates the metals from the non-metals are called metalloids. Metalloids share some properties from both metals and non-metals.

There are also some metals and non-metals which have properties that are not typical for their category. For example graphite, which is a form of carbon. Graphite has a high boiling point and is a good conductor of electricity, which are both typical properties of metals.