Common metal objects. Image credit

Common metal objects. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Experiment: Properties of Metals and Non-Metals

  • Elements can be divided into two groups:
  • Metals and Non-metals
  • Examples of metals are: copper, zinc, iron, gold, silver, chrome, lead and tin
  • Almost all metals have certain properties that makes them useful to people’s everyday lives
  • Below are differences between metals and non-metals
Good conductors of heat and thus used in making pots, pans etcAre usually not good conductors of heat and thus used as elements
Are good conductors of electricity and are thus used in making electrical gadgets and electric wiresAre not good conductors of electricity and thus some are used as insulators
They are ductile i.e. can be pulled into wires and thus they are used to make wires for all sorts of purposes including in the electricity industryThey are not ductile
They are malleable which means they can be hammered into different shapes e.g. roofing sheetsBrittle (they break or shatter when hammered)
Are strong in tension, compression and are thus used as construction materialsAre usually weaker especially in tension
They can be used to make alloys such as brassIt is usually not possible to make alloys our of non-metals
They have a lustre(they are shiny)Are almost always dull
Have a higher densityHave a lower density
Are sonorousAre usually not sonorous
Are solids at room temperature except mercury which is a liquidHalf are solids, almost half are gases and one (bromine) is a liquid
  • Elements that are dull in appearance, do not conduct electricity well, are not ductile or malleable are almost always non-metals
  • The tensile strength of materials is measured by finding out the amount of force that is required to break the material
  • This can be done by applying a pulling force to a material until it breaks
  • The tensile strength of metals is generally higher than that of non-metals
  • This is because metals are ductile

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.

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