Identification of metals and non-metals is a bit difficult if you do not have any idea of their characteristics. While a metal is a solid substance, usually hard, lustrous and opaque. On the other hand, a non-metals is a solid or gaseous material, in which the metallic properties are absent.
The matter is a physical substance that occupies space and has mass. It is present in three forms, which are elements, compound and mixture. Out of these three forms, elements is the purest form of matter and grouped into three categories, i.e. metals, metalloids and non-metals. Based on the physical and chemical properties, these three elements are bifurcated.
Take a read of the article to get the differences between metals and non-metals.
Content: Metals Vs Non-metals
Definition of Metals
Metals are used to mean those natural elements which are solid, lustrous, opaque and higher in density. Metals have a very high boiling and melting point. They effectively conduct heat and electricity. In metals, the atoms are arranged in the crystal structure. They act as reducing agents, as they lose valence electrons and form cations. Some examples of metals are silver, aluminium, gold, lead, nickel, copper, titanium, magnesium, iron, cobalt, zinc, etc.
Metals are hard and are commonly used in making machinery, water boilers, agriculture equipment, automobiles, industrial equipment, utensils, aeroplanes, etc.
Definition of Non-metals
Non-metals, as the name suggest, is the natural element, which lacks metallic properties. These are usually present in the solid or gaseous state, except Bromine, the only non-metal that exist in liquid form. They are soft, non-lustrous (except iodine) and good insulators of heat and electricity.
E.g. Nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, argon, xenon, chlorine and so forth.
The arrangement of atoms in non-metal is in non-crystalline or amorphous structure. Non-metals have high ionisation energy and electronegativity because it gains or shares valence electrons to form anions. They are usually soft, and so they are used in making fertiliser, purification of water, crackers and so on.
Key Differences Between Metals and Non-metals
The difference between metals and non-metals can be drawn clearly on the following premises:
- The natural elements that are hard, shiny, opaque and dense are metals. The chemical substances that are soft, non-shiny, transparent and brittle, are non-metals.
- Metals are electropositive in nature as they easily lose electrons, so they are reducing agents. On the contrary, Non-metals are electronegative because they gain electrons and thus they are oxidising agents.
- Metals have a crystalline structure, whereas non-metals possess amorphic structure.
- At room temperature, metals are usually solid, except mercury and gallium which are in the liquid state. Conversely, non-metals can be found in solid or gaseous form, except Bromine which is the only non-metal that is present in liquid form.
- Density is the ratio of mass to volume; metals have a higher density as compared to non-metals.
- Metals look smooth and shiny, while non-metals usually appear dull.
- When it comes to hardness, metals are generally hard substance, but it varies from substance to substance. Unlike non-metals is soft substance except diamond, which is the hardest substance on earth.
- Malleability is the characteristic of metals, to be converted to the thin sheet when beaten by a hammer. As against this, non-metals are brittle, as on beating with the hammer, non-metals are broken down into pieces.
- Ductility is the property of metals, to be drawn into wires, but non-metals do not possess such property.
- Sonorous is the feature of metals of producing a deep or ringing sound. However, non-metals are non-sonorous.
- Metals support conduction of heat and electricity. Conversely, non-metals are insulators, and so they do not support conduction of heat and electricity.
- Metals have a very high melting and boiling point. In contrast, non-metals are boiled and melted at a relatively low temperature.
- In the outer shell, metals consist of 1 to 3 electrons, whereas non-metals consist of 4 to 8 electrons.
- Metals react with oxygen to form metal oxides, which are basic in nature, so they have electrovalent or ionic bonds. On the flip side, when non-metals react with oxygen to form non-metal oxides of acidic nature and thus, they have covalent bonds.
- Metals react with dilute acid, to produce salt and hydrogen gas. As opposed, non-metals do not usually react with dilute acid.
All the objects around us are made up of metals or non-metals. The elements that conduct the features of both metals and non-metals are termed as metalloids. It includes boron, silicon, germanium, arsenic, etc.