Science, Tech, Math › Science What Are the Properties of Nonmetals? Share Flipboard Email Print Cultura / Getty Images Science Chemistry Periodic Table Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Updated July 08, 2019 A nonmetal is simply an element that does not display the properties of a metal. It is not defined by what it is, but by what it is not. It doesn't look metallic, can't be made into a wire, pounded into shape or bent, doesn't conduct heat or electricity well, and doesn't have a high melting or boiling point. The nonmetals are in a minority on the periodic table, mostly located on the right-hand side of the periodic table. The exception is hydrogen, which behaves as a nonmetal at room temperature and pressure and is found on the upper left corner of the periodic table. Under conditions of high pressure, hydrogen is predicted to behave as an alkali metal. Nonmetals on the Periodic Table The nonmetals are located on the upper right side of the periodic table. Nonmetals are separated from metals by a line that cuts diagonally through the region of the periodic table containing elements with partially filled p orbitals. The halogens and noble gases are nonmetals, but the nonmetal element group usually consists of the following elements: hydrogencarbonnitrogenoxygenphosphorussulfurselenium The halogen elements are: fluorinechlorinebromineiodineastatinePossibly element 117 (tennessine), although most scientists think this element will behave as a metalloid. The noble gas elements are: heliumneonargonkryptonxenonradonelement 118 (oganesson). This element is predicted to be a liquid but is still a nonmetal. Properties of Nonmetals Nonmetals have high ionization energies and electronegativities. They are generally poor conductors of heat and electricity. Solid nonmetals are generally brittle, with little or no metallic luster. Most nonmetals have the ability to gain electrons easily. Nonmetals display a wide range of chemical properties and reactivities. Summary of Common Properties High ionization energiesHigh electronegativitiesPoor thermal conductorsPoor electrical conductorsBrittle solids—not malleable or ductileLittle or no metallic lusterGain electrons easilyDull, not metallic-shiny, although they may be colorfulLower melting points and boiling point than the metals Comparing the Metals and Nonmetals The chart below displays a comparison of the physical and chemical properties of the metals and nonmetals. These properties apply to the metals in general (alkali metals, alkaline earth, transition metals, basic metals, lanthanides, actinides) and nonmetals in general (nonmetals, halogens, noble gases). Metals Nonmetals chemical properties easily lose valence electrons easily share or gain valence electrons 1-3 electrons (usually) in the outer shell 4-8 electrons in the outer shell (7 for halogens and 8 for noble gases) form basic oxides form acidic oxides good reducing agents good oxidizing agents have low electronegativity have higher electronegativity physical properties solid at room temperature (except mercury) may be liquid, solid, or gas (noble gases are gases) have metallic luster do not have metallic luster good conductor of heat and electricity poor conductor of heat and electricity typically malleable and ductile usually brittle opaque in a thin sheet transparent in a thin sheet Continue Reading What Are the Different Element Groups in the Periodic Table? List of Elements That Are Nonmetals How Groups Arrange Periodic Elements According to Common Properties Learn the Properties of the Semimetals or Metalloids Learn the Parts of the Periodic Table Learn About the Halogen Elements What to Know About The Organization of the Modern Periodic Table Meet the Element Families of the Periodic Table The Periodic Table Is Made Up of Metals, Nonmetals, and Metalloids Properties of Alkali Metals Here's What the Chemical Elements Look Like in Pure Form A List of All the Elements That Are Metals 5 Metals and Nonmetals and How They Are Used What Are the Properties of the Alkaline Earth Metals? A List of Noble Gases and Their Properties What Is the Difference between a Metal and Nonmetal?