Free Science Tutorial on the Chemistry of metals and nonmetals

The elements so far known are divided basically into three types. They are metals, nonmetals, and metalloids. All these three are very important for humans. The chemistry of these metals and nonmetals is discussed in this article


The Periodic table brought a systematic way of study about various elements. The students who study chemistry will know about the periodic table. All elements discovered so far are properly arranged based on their increasing atomic numbers in this table. So far 118 elements are known to us. Out of these 92 elements are obtained naturally. The remaining 26 are synthesized in the laboratory. All these elements can be divided into three types based on their physical and chemical properties These three types are metalloids, metals and nonmetals.

These metals and nonmetals play an important role in our lives. Iron, copper, and aluminium are very widely used in the construction industry and many factories. Gold and silver are very useful for making jewellery. Tungsten is used to make the filament in electric bulbs. Similarly, oxygen which is a nonmetal is making plants and human beings live on this earth. Carbon and graphite are having many industrial uses. Nitrogen is useful in making various fertilizers for plants. The detailed chemistry of these three types is discussed in this article.

What are metals

The atoms of all the elements will contain electrons revolving around the nucleus. These electrons are negatively charged. These atoms can be converted to ions by gaining or losing electrons. The atoms are neutral in charge as they contain an equal number of electrons and protons. But atoms of some elements donate electrons and form electropositive ions and form bonds with other atoms of other elements. Such elements are called metals. Again, these metals are divided as alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, lanthanides, actinides and transition metals in the periodic table. These metals can donate 1 or 2 or more electrons based on the group in which they are present and based on their electronic configuration. The atoms of metal will be held together by a metallic bond. The electrons that are available in the outermost shell will be moving from one atom to another atom and they are held together by a force. The force that is keeping them together is known as a metallic bond.

Physical Properties of metals

The following are some of the important physical properties of metals.
  1. All metals are solids at room temperature. But there is one exemption that is mercury. It is a liquid at room temperature. Gallium is a metal that liquefies at a slightly high temperature.

  2. Metals are generally rigid and will have a crystalline structure. But sodium and potassium exist as soft metals.

  3. Metals will have a shiny reflective lustrous surface.

  4. Metals are good conductors. They conduct heat and electricity. This is due to the presence of non-localized electrons that will carry some charge.

  5. Metals are malleable and ductile. They can be drawn into thin sheets and wires.

  6. The densities, melting and boiling points of these metals will be high.

Chemical Properties of Metals:

Following are some important chemical properties of metals.
  1. Metals will react with oxygen and form metal oxides. Generally, these oxides are basic.

  2. These oxides react with water and form hydroxides.

  3. These metal oxides will also react with acids to form salt and water.

  4. Metals react with non-metals to form ionic compounds.

What are nonmetals

Some elements will have partially filled electrons in their outermost shell. So, such atoms will try to attract electrons from atoms of neighbouring materials and will form anions. Anions are nothing but negatively charged ions. They are electronegative. These elements which are electronegative are called nonmetals.

Physical Properties of nonmetals

Some important properties of these materials are given below.
  1. Non-metals may exist in all the states of the materials at room temperature. There are some solid nonmetals. Some nonmetals are gases. Bromine is a liquid non-metal at room temperature.

  2. Non-metals are brittle. Then will not have the nature of ductility and malleability.

  3. Non-metals are bad conductors of electricity.

  4. Nonmetals will have lower melting temperatures and they are very much less than metals.

Chemical Properties of Non-Metals:

Some important chemical properties of nonmetals are mentioned below.
  1. Some nonmetals are diatomic. Examples are oxygen and Hydrogen.
  2. Nonmetals react with oxygen and form oxides. Some of these oxides are acidic and some are neutral oxides.

  3. Acidic oxides can react with water to form hydroxides.

  4. These acidic oxides of nonmetals may react with bases to form salt and water.

  5. The nonmetal atoms are held together by covalent bonds.


These metalloids are in between metals and non-metals. The physical properties of these metalloids will be similar to that of metals. Their chemical properties will be similar to non-metals. These metalloids are capable of forming semi-conductors. These materials are poor conductors of electricity and but they can be made good conductors by doping some other materials in them. Silicon and Germanium are two metalloids.


Metals and nonmetals are playing a very important role in our lives. . Human beings can't survive on this earth without some important nonmetals like oxygen. Many metals contributed a lot to the development of humans living on this earth. Thus these materials occupied a very important part in the development of mankind.


Author: Umesh18 May 2022 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

This is a very informative and useful tutorial for the students.
Due to their higher melting point metals are ideal for making utensils and all sort of containers for keeping and storing various items.
On the other hand nonmetals are used in chemical industry for a variety of purposes based on their chemical characteristics and low melting points. Many gases are used for various purposes in variety of equipment and composite machines.
The third category of metalloids or semiconductors has gained tremendous importance during the last few decades. The advancement in semiconductor industry has resulted in small sized semiconductor chips which have reduced the size of gadgets to bare minimum. Today we are holding a smartphone in our hands inside which there are only a few chips of semiconductors but it is able to do a variety of jobs with the lightening speed.

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