Periodic Table Metals and Non-Metals

periodic table example

Core Concepts

In this tutorial, you will be introduced to metals and non-metals on the periodic table of elements and their properties.

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A majority of the elements on the periodic table of elements categorize themselves as metals. On the periodic table metals, are placed to the left of the zigzag line that runs between the five elements: boron, silicon, arsenic, tellurium, and astatine. Elements that happen to fall on the line or just to the left of it (boron, silicon, germanium, arsenic, tellurium, antimony, and polonium) may be classified as metalloids or semimetals. This means that they have properties of both metals and nonmetals. 

Metals and Non-Metals Example

Examples of Metals

Some well-known metals on the periodic table include: iron, lead, aluminum, silver, calcium, and sodium which present as solids at room temperature. Mercury, which is classified as a metal, is the only metal on the periodic table that presents as a liquid . Out of the one hundred and eighteen metals on the periodic table gold is the most malleable. That is why jewelry can never be 100% pure gold or else it would not withstand everyday wear and tare.

Properties of Metals

  • All metals differ in their melting points, but generally, all metals have high melting and boiling points.
  • Most metals present as solids at room temperature, mercury is the only exception to this rule as it exists as a liquid at room temperature.
  • Metals are lustrous in nature, meaning their surface is shiny. Copper is an extremely lustrous metal.
  • Metals are usually more dense than nonmetals.
  • Generally, metals are very malleable, meaning they can be beaten down into thin sheets. Pure gold is the most malleable element.
  • Metals are ductile this means they can be rolled into thin sheets.
  • Finally, metals are good conductors of heat and electricity.

Metals and their Charges

Since the metals lie to the left of the periodic table they often have low ionization energies and low electron affinities, meaning they give away electrons relatively easy causing metals to become cations. The main group metals usually form charges that are the same as their group number. The metals in group 1A like Lithium and Sodium have a charge of +1, the metals in group 2A such as magnesium and calcium have a +2 charge.

Metals that follow the transition metals can lose their s orbital and p orbital electrons and form charges that are the same as their group number or they can lose their p orbital electrons and keep their two s orbital electrons; metals like tin and lead in group 4A can form either +4 or +2 charges. When these metals bond with other non-metals this is known as ionic bonding where a transfer of electrons occurs from one species to another.

Example of ionic bonding


Non-Metals account for a small portion of elements on the periodic table. On the periodic table, non-metals lie to the right of the zigzag line that runs between the elements boron, silicon, arsenic, tellurium, and astatine. Non-Metals also include hydrogen which lies to the left of the metalloids. Many of these elements have biological roles. Living things are made up of almost entirely non-metals like carbon or hydrogen.

Non-Metals on the periodic table.
This picture does not include Hydrogen which is also a non-metal.

Examples of Non-Metals

While there are only seventeen non-metals on the periodic table a few common examples include oxygen and nitrogen which account for most of the air that we breathe, along with a few other gases like neon or the chemical compound carbon dioxide. The non-bonding helium, neon, radon, argon, xenon, krypton, and oganesson, also known as the noble gasses, make up a chunk of the non-metals.

Properties of Non-Metals

  • The majority of metals are found in a gaseous state, but you can find some in a solid or liquid state. Like bromine which might be found as a liquid.
  • Generally, non-metals are not shiny or lustrous.
  • Non-metals have low melting and boiling points.
  • Non-metals often present with lower densities.
  • Unlike metals, Non-metals are often very poor conductors of heat and electricity.

Non-Metals and their Charges

Non-metals have high ionization energies and high electron affinities, so they can gain electrons easily, but lose them with much more effort, causing them to be classified as anions. They will continue to gain electrons until they have the same number of electrons as the noble gas closest to them. Their charges can be classified as the group number minus eight. So the non-metals in Group 7A have -1 charges, Group 6A forms -2 charges, and Group 5A forms -3 charges.  The noble gases in group 8A already have their octet so they are hesitant to form bonds. If two non-metals bond they form a covalent bond; these occur when pairs of electrons are shared by atoms.

example of covalent bonding