Difference Between Metals and Nonmetals

Metals vs Nonmetals

Both metals and nonmetals may be part of the periodic table but there is a lot of differences between metal and nonmetals in both chemical and physical make-up. Most of the elements in the periodic table are metals and only a few are nonmetals. These elements are arranged in the table by their electronic structure. It is always helpful to learn the difference between the two in order to understand them more clearly.

What are metals?

Metals are good conductors of electricity. They are shiny and flexible. Most metals can be pounded into thin sheets or can be strained to become thin wires. Metals tend to loose electrons when they are subjected to chemical changes. Metals can also be a good reducing agent. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature, most metals are otherwise solid.

Periodic Table | Difference Between Metals and Nonmetals

What are Nonmetals?

Nonmetals on the other hand, vary in shapes and sizes. They also come in different colors. They are brittle and can be both hard and soft. Nonmetals do not have the capacity to conduct electricity well. They are good oxidizing agents and can be liquid, solid or gas at room temperature. When metals are combined or reacted with a nonmetal, the nonmetals gain electrons thus becoming anions.

What is the difference between Metals and Nonmetals?

Both, metals and nonmetals, have differences in both chemical and physical properties. 

Metals are great conductors of electricity and heat and when subjected to chemical changes they loose electrons and become cations. Also, metals are solid at room temperature and are flexible and stretchable. Typically, they have one or two colors which is mostly silver in shade.

Non-metals, on the other hand are not conductors of such and gain electrons and turn into anions once they undergo chemical changes. Also, non-metals can be either solid, liquid, or gas and come in a variety of colors. They are brittle and non stretchable or inflexible if they are in their solid forms. 

In brief: Metals vs Nonmetals

• Chemical elements are classified as metals and non metals or as metalloids on the basis of their physical and chemical properties.

• Metals are good conductors of electricity and heat while nonmetals are poor in that.

• Metals are flexible and ductile while nonmetals are not.

• Metals usually come in solid forms while nonmetals can be solid, liquid or gas.

• Metals have a certain luster or shine while non-metals are dull; nonmetals however, come in different colors.

• Metals generally form basic oxides while nonmetals are good oxidizing agents.

• Metals when subjected to chemical changes loose electrons while nonmetals gain electrons and turn into anions.

• Melting point and boiling point of nonmetals are significantly lower compared to metals, Carbon being the exception.

• Nonmetals are the carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorous, oxygen, sulfur, selenium, halogens and noble gases.


Image Attribution: Periodic_table.svg: By Cepheus derivative work: TheSmuel (Periodic_table.svg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons