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Metals vs. Non-Metals: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 21, 2024
Metals are typically hard, conductive, and shiny materials, used in construction and manufacturing, whereas non-metals are generally non-conductive, brittle, and lack metallic luster, found in various forms in nature.
Metals vs. Non-Metals

Key Differences

Metals are elements known for their high electrical and thermal conductivity, malleability, ductility, and reflective luster. They tend to lose electrons during chemical reactions. Non-Metals, in contrast, are poor conductors of heat and electricity, are not malleable or ductile, and are more likely to gain electrons during chemical reactions.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 21, 2024
In the periodic table, Metals occupy the left and middle sections and are characterized by their ability to form positive ions by losing electrons. They are solid at room temperature (except mercury). Non-Metals, found on the right side of the periodic table, can be gases, liquids, or brittle solids at room temperature and tend to form negative ions or covalent compounds.
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Feb 21, 2024
Metals such as iron, copper, and aluminum are widely used in construction and manufacturing due to their strength and durability. They often have a shiny surface when freshly cut or polished. Non-Metals like oxygen, carbon, and sulfur are essential for life and are commonly used in industries like pharmaceuticals and chemicals.
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Feb 21, 2024
Metals often have high melting and boiling points, indicating strong bonds between atoms. They are typically dense and have a high tensile strength. Non-Metals, on the other hand, have lower melting and boiling points and are much less dense compared to metals.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 21, 2024
The chemical behavior of Metals is largely defined by their tendency to form cations through electron loss. They participate in ionic and metallic bonding. Non-Metals have a diverse range of chemical behaviors, often forming anions or covalent bonds, and participate in a wider variety of chemical reactions.
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Feb 21, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Physical State

Solid at room temperature (except Hg)
Can be gases, liquids, or brittle solids
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Feb 21, 2024

Conductivity

High electrical and thermal conductivity
Poor conductors of heat and electricity
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Appearance

Shiny, metallic luster
Dull, lack metallic luster
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Malleability and Ductility

Highly malleable and ductile
Brittle, not malleable or ductile
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Chemical Behavior

Lose electrons, form cations
Gain electrons, form anions or covalent compounds
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Metals and Non-Metals Definitions

Metals

Metals are elements that form positive ions by losing electrons.
Iron, a metal, is essential for construction.
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Non-Metals

Non-Metals can exist in various physical states at room temperature.
Chlorine, a non-metal, is a gas at room temperature.
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Metals

Metals typically have high melting points.
Steel, an alloy of metals, has a high melting point suitable for building frameworks.
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Non-Metals

Non-Metals are not malleable or ductile.
Sulfur, a non-metal, is brittle and breaks easily.
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Metals

Metals are known for their conductivity of heat and electricity.
Copper wires are used extensively for electrical wiring.
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Non-Metals

Non-Metals are elements that generally gain electrons in reactions.
Oxygen, a non-metal, is crucial for respiration.
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Metals

Metals are malleable and can be shaped into various forms.
Aluminum foil is made by rolling the metal into thin sheets.
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Non-Metals

Non-Metals are poor conductors of heat and electricity.
Rubber, a non-metal, is used as an electrical insulator.
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Metals

Any of a category of electropositive elements that usually have a shiny surface, are generally good conductors of heat and electricity, and can be melted or fused, hammered into thin sheets, or drawn into wires. Typical metals form salts with nonmetals, basic oxides with oxygen, and alloys with one another.
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Non-Metals

Non-Metals often have a lower density compared to metals.
Carbon, in the form of graphite, is a light non-metal.
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Metals

An alloy of two or more metallic elements.
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Non-Metals

Plural of non-metal
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Metals

An object made of metal.
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Metals

Basic character; mettle.
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Metals

Broken stones used for road surfaces or railroad beds.
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Metals

Molten glass, especially when used in glassmaking.
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Metals

Molten cast iron.
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Metals

(Printing) Type made of metal.
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Metals

(Music) Heavy metal.
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Metals

To cover or surface (a roadbed, for example) with broken stones.
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Metals

Plural of metal
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Metals

(rail transport) the rail tracks owned by a company or organisation; a rail network
It was appropriate that 'King' number 6000 began the return to steam on British Rail metals in 1971.
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Metals

Metals have a characteristic metallic luster.
Silver jewelry shines brightly due to its metallic luster.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are all non-metals gases?

No, non-metals can be gases, liquids, or solids.
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What are metals?

Metals are elements that are typically hard, shiny, malleable, ductile, and good conductors of heat and electricity.
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Can metals be liquid?

Yes, mercury is a metal that is liquid at room temperature.
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Do metals have high melting points?

Generally, yes. Metals often have high melting points.
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Feb 21, 2024

Are non-metals used in electrical wiring?

No, non-metals are poor conductors and are not typically used in wiring.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 21, 2024

Do metals have a metallic luster?

Yes, metals typically have a shiny, metallic luster.
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Feb 21, 2024

What are non-metals?

Non-metals are elements that are poor conductors of heat and electricity, and can be gases, liquids, or brittle solids.
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Feb 21, 2024

Do non-metals form anions?

Yes, non-metals often gain electrons to form anions.
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Feb 21, 2024

Is oxygen a non-metal?

Yes, oxygen is a non-metal essential for life.
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Are non-metals magnetic?

Generally, non-metals are not magnetic.
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Can metals be transparent?

Metals are not transparent; they are opaque.
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Are metals magnetic?

Some metals like iron, nickel, and cobalt are magnetic.
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Are non-metals malleable?

No, non-metals are not malleable or ductile.
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Can non-metals conduct electricity?

Non-metals are generally poor conductors of electricity.
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Can metals form cations?

Yes, metals tend to lose electrons and form cations.
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Is gold a metal?

Yes, gold is a metal known for its ductility and conductivity.
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Are all non-metals solid at room temperature?

No, non-metals can be gases, liquids, or solids at room temperature.
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Are non-metals used in fertilizers?

Yes, non-metals like nitrogen and phosphorus are key components of fertilizers.
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Are metals used in batteries?

Yes, metals like lithium are used in batteries.
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Do metals react with acids?

Yes, many metals react with acids, often releasing hydrogen gas.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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