What is the Difference Between Metals and Non-Metals?

By Aina Parasher|Updated : May 12th, 2022

Difference Between Metals and Non-Metals: The periodic table consists of elements such as metals, nonmetals, and elements with properties intermediate between the two groups (metalloids). Here in this article, we will discuss metals, non-metals, and the difference between metals and non-metals.

Metals are solids with a metallic appearance, high electrical and thermal conductivity, and high melting and boiling points. However, non-metals are typically softer, colorful elements. They have lower melting and boiling temperatures than most metals, thus they are typically poor conductors.

Table of Content

What is a Metal?

Alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, transition metals, lanthanides, and actinides are all metals. Metals and nonmetals are separated on the periodic table by a zig-zag line that passes through carbon, phosphorus, selenium, iodine, and radon. Metals are hard substances having heat and electrical conductivity qualities (except tungsten). Polishing these materials generates a reflective surface since they are naturally glossy. Metals are often found in solid form, with the exception of mercury, which is found in liquid form.

Because they may easily be turned into thin sheets, metals are malleable. Metals can also be made into thin, long wires, displaying their ductility. Copper, Iron, Silver, Gold, Aluminium, Lead, Magnesium, Sodium, and other metals are examples of metals. 

Properties of Metals

The chemical and physical properties of metals are provided below.

  • Metals are shiny, and polishing them creates a mirror-like finish.
  • Good heat and electricity conductors.
  • They can very quickly lose electrons when forming bonds.
  • Metal oxides are fundamental in nature, and metals have lower electronegativities.
  • Metals are often effective reducers.
  • Metals may be hammered into thin sheets and are malleable.
  • Metals are also ductile and can be pulled into wires.
  • Nothing can see through metals since they might be as opaque as a thin sheet.
  • When struck, metals produce a sonorous or bell-like sound.

What is a Non-Metal?

Non-metals are elements on the right side of the periodic table. Gases, liquids, and solids are all examples of non-metals. Metals are shiny, whereas non-metals are drab. A non-metal cannot be hammered or shaped; if struck, it would shatter. Nonmetals have a tendency for receiving electrons since their outermost shell has four, five, six, or seven electrons. 

The melting and boiling points of these elements are extremely high. Nonmetals, such as silicon and carbon, on the other hand, have high melting and boiling points. Nonmetals do not react with the acid in general, but they do react swiftly with air and are considered excellent oxidising agents. Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon, Sulphur, Chlorine, Iodine, Hydrogen, Phosphorus, etc. are non-metals.

Properties of Non-Metals

The chemical and physical properties of non-metals are provided below.

  • They are poor heat and electricity conductors.
  • At room temperature, they could be solids, liquids, or gases.
  • Non-Metals are good oxidizing agents. 
  • They are transparent as a thin sheet
  • Nonmetals are non-sonorous.
  • In their outer shell, they usually have 4-8 electrons.
  • They can gain or share valence electrons with ease.
  • Non-Metals have high electronegativities.

What is the Difference between Metals and Non-Metals?

We have provided the difference between metals and non-metals in the table below.

Metals vs Non-Metals

Metals

Non-Metals

Metals are solids at room temperature.

Non-Metals can be solids, liquids, or gases at room temperature.

Metals are good conductors of heat and electricity.

Non-Metals are poor conductors of heat and electricity.

They have lustre.

They are not lustrous.

Metals are sonorous.

Non-metals are non-sonorous.

Metals are shiny.

Non-metals are dull.

They can be bent and stretched.

They are usually brittle.

They are malleable.

They are non-malleable.

They form positive ions.

They form negative ions.

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FAQs on Difference Between Metals and Non-Metals

  • The main difference between metals and non-metals is that metals tend to be hard and also good conductors of heat and electricity. However, non-metals are soft and are poor conductors of heat and electricity.

  • Metals are materials that are lustrous, hard, fusible, malleable, ductile, and other qualities. Gold, silver, aluminum, copper, iron, and other metals (materials) are a few examples of metals.

  • Natural materials that do not produce heat or electricity and are structurally brittle are known as non-metals. The non-metallic elements in the periodic table are hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, arsenic, and selenium.

  • Based on the nature of oxides, the difference between metals and non-metals is that metallic oxides are basic in nature whereas, oxides of non-metal are acidic in nature.

  • Based on the conductivity, the difference between metals and non-metals is that metals conduct heat and electricity whereas, non-metals do not allow heat or electricity to pass through them.

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