How Metal Elements Differ From Nonmetal Elements

There are currently 118 known elements on the periodic table, many of which are classified as either a metal or nonmetal. The former are found on the left side of the periodic table, whereas the latter are found on the right side of the periodic table. Aside from their placement on the periodic table, though, there are several key differences between metal and nonmetal elements.

What Is a Metal Element?

By definition, a metal element is an element that form positive ions and has metallic bonds. Most elements on the periodic table are metals. Examples of metal elements include iron, copper, silver, mercury, lead, aluminum, gold, platinum, zinc, nickel and tin.

What Is a Nonmetal Element?

A nonmetal element, on the other hand, is an element that lacks the characteristics of its metal counterparts. Nonmetal elements don’t form positive ions, nor do they possess metallic bonds. Examples of nonmetal elements include hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, sulfur, argon, xenon, radon and phosphorus. Nonmetal elements are rarer than metal elements, but there are still plenty of them available on the periodic chart.

Differences Between Metal and Nonmetal Elements

Now that you know the basic definitions of metal and nonmetal elements, you might be wondering how they differ. While each element on the periodic table has its own unique properties, all metal elements generally share some common characteristics, and all nonmetal elements also share some common characteristics.

For starters, metal elements have high electrical conductivity properties. They are able to pass electricity with minimal restriction, making them ideal for use in wires and cables. Furthermore, metal elements have a higher melting point than that of nonmetal elements. In other words, it takes more heat for a metal element to melt than it does for a nonmetal element to melt. Metal elements are also malleable and ductile, allowing them to be “worked.”

Nonmetal elements have poor electrical, as well as thermal, conductivity. They aren’t able to pass electricity or heat as well as metal elements. Additionally, nonmetal elements have a dull appearance, which is in stark contrast to the lustrous appearance exhibited by metal elements.

What About Metalloids?

In addition to metals and nonmetals, there are also metalloids on the periodic table. Metalloids are unique because their properties fall somewhere between those of metal and nonmetal elements. They aren’t particularly lustrous, nor are they are particularly dull. Rather, they fall somewhere in the middle regarding their appearance and other properties.

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