Materials: Metals and Non-metals

Chemical Properties and Uses of Metals and Non-metals

The materials that are present around us are grouped widely into metals and non-metals. They offer various uses in everyday life. Metal and Non-metals have some very interesting and useful chemical properties, which makes our lives easier. Let’s find out more about them in the section below.

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Chemical Properties of Metals

The chemical properties of metals are –


All metals except the noble metals, which is gold and silver react with the oxygen to form basic oxides. In the reaction, the Sodium reacts vigorously with oxygen and generates a lot of heat. For example –

Magnesium (Mg) + Oxygen (O2)  —- 2MgO (Magnesium Oxide)

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Rusting of Iron

Iron (Fe) + Oxygen (O2) + Water (H2O) ——— Fe2O3 (Iron Oxide, is a brown color rust)

Greenish Deposit on the Surface of Copper Vessels

The dull greenish material that is deposited on the surface of copper is a mixture of copper hydro oxide [Cu(OH)2] and copper carbonate (CUCO3) which takes place as –

2Cu + H2O + CO2 + O2 ——- [Cu(OH)2] + (CUCO3)

Reaction of Metals with Water

The metallic oxides are basic in nature. Metals like sodium (Na) react vigorously with water at room temperature.

2Na + 2H2O ——— 2NaOH + H2 (Hydrogen hydroxide)

The active metals like Potassium (K) and Calcium (Ca) reacts with water at room temperature. However, some metals do not react. For example – Iron reacts with water slowly.

Reaction with Acids

Acids react with metals to liberate hydrogen along with the corresponding salt of the metal.

Zinc + Hydrochloric acid —— Zinc chloride + Hydrogen
Or, Zn + 2HCl —– ZnCl2 + H2
Zinc + Sulphuric acid —— Zinc sulfate + Hydrogen
Or, Zn + H2SO4 —— ZnSO4 + H2

When a burning matchstick is brought near Hydrogen, it burns with a pop sound.

Reaction with Bases

Metals react with sodium hydroxide to produce hydrogen.

Displacement Reactions

Some metals are capable of displacing other metals from their solutions. For example – Zinc (Zn) replaces copper from copper sulfate solutions.

Copper Sulphate + Zinc ——- Zinc Sulphate + Copper

CuSO4 + Zn —— ZnSO4 + Cu

More active metals displace less active metals from their solution, in general. In this case, Zinc is more reactive than Cu, so it replaces copper (Cu) from a copper sulfate solution. Implying the rule, a more reactive metal replaces a less reactive metal, however, a less reactive metal cannot replace a reactive metal.

Chemical Properties of Non – Metals

  • Oxidation:  Non-metals react with oxygen to form oxides which are acidic in nature.
  • Reaction of Non-metals with Water:  Non-metals do not react with water though they may be very reactive in the air. However, some non-metals react with air. For example – Phosphorous. 

Uses of Metal

  • We use metals are for various purposes like for making wires and sheets. For example – Copper and aluminum wires in electrical equipment’s, especially for conduction of electricity.
  • They are also extensively used in making automobiles, machinery, industrial gadgets, etc.
  • The metals are used in making utensils and water boilers due to its property of being a good conductor of heat.

Uses of Non – Metal

  • Non-metals like nitrogen and phosphorus are very useful in fertilizers for better plant growth.
  • Non-metal like Sulphur is useful in crackers.
  • We use a non-metal like chlorine in purple colored solution on the wound as the antiseptic.
  • Many non-metals like chlorine, sulphur, iodine are very useful for medicinal purposes.
  • Non-metal like oxygen is very essential for our life for respiration.

Solved Question For You

Question 1. The property of metals by which they can be beaten into thin sheets is: 

  1. Malleability
  2. Ductility
  3. Conduction
  4. Expansion

Solution: The correct answer is A. The property of metals by which they can be beaten into thin sheets is malleability.

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4 responses to “Introduction to Metals and Non-metals”

  1. Chanvi Verma says:

    Well done

  2. niy says:

    are you sure sodium is non-lustrous?

  3. Varshini says:

    I was having a lot of problem in science…. That I was not understanding concepts……. This information was very useful for me….. Thank u♥♡ For information….. Really very very useful

  4. AAttiikkaa says:

    amazing site helped me alot in in school projects
    so I just wanted to riply
    keep it up!

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