8 Difference Between Metals Vs. Non-Metals (With Examples)

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Metals are chemical elements with general characteristics and similar physical and chemical properties under normal conditions. Examples include aluminum, copper, iron, lead, silver, platinum, uranium and zinc. Metals can further be divided into the following groups:

  • Alkali metals
  • Alkaline Earth Metals
  • Other metals
  • Rare Earth Elements

Nonmetals are chemical elements that mostly lack the basic characteristics of a metal. Examples of nonmetals include: hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, neon, chlorine, argon, krypton, xenon and radon. A non-metal is typically brittle when solid and usually has poor thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity. Physically, a nonmetal tends to have a relatively low melting point, boiling point and density. Chemically, nonmetals tend to have relatively high ionization energy, electron affinity and electro-negativity.

Nonmetals are divided into two categories, that is:

  • Reactive nonmetals
  • Noble gases

Metals and Non-Metals: Difference in Physical Properties

  1. Metals are generally present in the solid form at room temperature except mercury which is a liquid at room temperature. On the other hand, non-metals can be liquid, gaseous or solid at room temperature.
  2. Metals are generally, good conductors of electricity and heat. On the contrary, non-metals are poor conductors of both heat and electricity.
  3. Metals are ductile in nature while non-metals are non-ductile in nature. Ductility is when a solid material stretches under tensile stress. If ductile, a material may be stretched into a thin wire without becoming weaker or more brittle in the process.
  4. Metals are malleable but non-metals are not malleable. Malleability is a substance’s ability to deform under pressure (compressive stress). If malleable, a material may be flattened into thin sheets by hammering or rolling.
  5. Almost all metals are opaque whereas non-metals are transparent.
  6. Metals are sonorous in nature while non-metals are non-sonorous in nature. Sonorous is the ability to produce sound when hit by an object.
  7. Metals have a shiny appearance whereas non-metals are dull in appearance.
  8. Metals have a high to moderate density whereas non-metals have low to moderate density.

Metals Vs Non-metals: Difference in Chemical Properties

  1. Metals have one to three electrons in their outer shell, whereas non-metals have four to eight electrons.
  2. Metals loose electrons to form electropositive ions whereas non-metals accept electrons to form electronegative ions.
  3. Metals are found in the left side of the periodic table whereas non-metals are found on the right side of the periodic table.
  4. Metals react with oxygen to form basic oxides whereas non-metals react with oxygen to form acid oxides.
  5. Metals have a low ionization enthalpy while non-metals have a high ionization enthalpy.
  6. Melting and boiling point of non-metals are relatively lower when compared to metals, with carbon being an exception.
  7. Metals react with acids to produce hydrogen gas whereas non-metals not usually react with acids.
  8. Metals are good reducing agents because they readily lose electrons easily from its valence shell. On the contrary, non-metals are good oxidizing agents because they readily loose electrons in its outermost shell.

Difference Between Metals and Non-metals In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON METALS NON-METALS
Physical State At Room Temperature Metals are generally present in the solid form at room temperature except mercury which is a liquid at room temperature. Non-metals can be liquid, gaseous or solid at room temperature.  
Electrical Conductivity Metals are generally, good conductors of electricity and heat.   Non-metals are poor conductors of both heat and electricity.  
Ductility Metals are ductile in nature. Non-metals are not ductile in nature.  
Malleability Metals are malleable.   Non-metals are not malleable.
Nature Almost all metals are opaque.   Non-metals are transparent.
Sonorous Metals are sonorous in nature.   Non-metals are non-sonorous in nature.
Appearance Metals have a shiny appearance. Non-metals are dull in appearance.  
Density Metals have a high to moderate density. Non-metals have low to moderate density.  
Number of Electrons Metals have one to three electrons in their outer shell. Non-metals have four to eight electrons.  
Electropositive Ions Metals loose electrons to form electropositive ions.   Non-metals accept electrons to form electronegative ions.  
Position on Periodic Table Metals are found in the left side of the periodic table. Non-metals are found on the right side of the periodic table.  
Metals Metals react with oxygen to form basic oxides. Non-metals react with oxygen to form acid oxides.  
Ionization Enthalpy Metals have a low ionization enthalpy. Non-metals have a high ionization enthalpy.  
Melting and Boiling Point Melting and boiling point of metals are relatively higher when compared to non-metals, with carbon being an exception.     Melting and boiling point of metals are relatively higher when compared to non-metals, with carbon being an exception.  
Products Metals react with acids to produce hydrogen gas Non-metals not usually react with acids.  
Chemical Nature Metals are good reducing agents because they readily lose electrons easily from its valence shell. Non-metals are good oxidizing agents because they readily loose electrons in its outermost shell.

What are the Similarities Between Metals and Non-Metals?

  • Both metals and non-metals can change state into (liquid, solid or gas).
  • Both metals and nonmetals can cause chemical reactions.
  • Both metals and nonmetals have protons, neutrons and electrons in different numbers
  • The mixture of metals and non-metals can be separated through physical and chemical means.

Summary

Metals are chemical elements with general characteristics and similar physical and chemical properties under normal conditions. Examples include aluminum, copper, iron, lead, silver, platinum, uranium and zinc. Nonmetals are chemical elements that mostly lack the basic characteristics of a metal. Examples of nonmetals include: hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, neon, chlorine, argon, krypton, xenon and radon.