Metals Non-metals


Metals: Metals are lustrous, sonorous, ductile, and are good conductor of heat and electricity.

Non-metals: Non-metals are non-lustrous, non-sonorous, non-ductile, and are bad conductor of heat and electricity.

Physical Properties





Metals are malleable, i.e. they can be beaten into thin sheets.

Non-metals are not malleable.


Metals are good conductors of heat and electricity.

Non-metals are bad conductors of heat and electricity. (exception: graphite)


Metals are ductile, i.e. they can be drawn into thin wires.

Non-metals are not ductile.


Metals are sonorous, i.e. they produce a typical metallic sound when hit with something.

Non-metals are not sonorous.


Metals have metallic shine; called lustre.

Non-metals are usually dull. (exceptions: diamond and graphite)

Physical State

Most of the non-metals are available as solid at room temperature; except mercury. Sodium and potassium are so soft that they can be cut with knife.

Non-metals are available in all the three states of matter.

Chemical Properties of Metals and Non-metals

Reaction with Oxygen

  • Metals react with oxygen to form metallic oxides. Metallic oxides are basic in nature.

    Example: Iron reacts with oxygen and moisture to form iron oxide. Iron oxide is brown in colour and is commonly known as rust.

    Fe + O2 + H2O → Fe2O3

    Example: Magnesium reacts with oxygen when it is burnt and forms magnesium oxide.

    Mg + O2 → 2MgO

  • Non-metals also react with oxygen to make oxides. Oxides of non-metals are acidic in nature.

    Example: Sulphur reacts with oxygen when it is burnt. It forms sulphur dioxide.

    S + O2 → SO2

    When sulphur dioxide is dissolved in water, it forms sulphurous acid.

    SO2 + H2O → H2SO3

Reaction with water

Some metals react vigorously with water, while some others do not react at all with water.

Example: Sodium is a highly reactive metal and reacts vigorously with water. This is a highly exothermic reaction. During this reaction; sodium catches fire because of too much heat being evolved. Due to this, sodium is stored in kerosene to prevent accidental fire.

  • Iron reacts slowly with water.
  • Copper does not react with water but reacts with steam.
  • Silver and gold do not react with water at any temperature.

Usually, non-metals do not react with water; but some non-metals react vigorously with air. Such non-metals are stored in water to prevent their reaction with air. For example; phosphorus is stored in water to prevent its reaction with air.

Reaction with Acids

Metals generally react with acids and produce hydrogen gas. Confirmation of hydrogen gas is done by bringing a burning matchstick or a burning candle near the gas. When the burning matchstick or candle burns with a pop sound it confirms the evolution of hydrogen gas.

Metal + Acid → Salt + Hydrogen

Copper does not react with even concentrated hydrochloric acid. However, copper reacts with sulphuric acid.

Non-metals generally do not react with acids.

Reaction with Bases

Metals react with sodium hydroxide to produce hydrogen gas.

Metal + Sodium hydroxide → Hydrogen

Non-metals reaction with sodium hydroxide is much complex.