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. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College 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. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. 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: hydrogen carbon nitrogen oxygen phosphorus sulfur selenium The halogen elements are: fluorine chlorine bromine iodine astatine Possibly element 117 (tennessine), although most scientists think this element will behave as a metalloid. The noble gas elements are: helium neon argon krypton xenon radon element 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 energies High electronegativities Poor thermal conductors Poor electrical conductors Brittle solids—not malleable or ductile Little or no metallic luster Gain electrons easily Dull, not metallic-shiny, although they may be colorful Lower 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 Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Are the Properties of Nonmetals?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/nonmetals-definition-and-properties-606659. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 26). What Are the Properties of Nonmetals? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/nonmetals-definition-and-properties-606659 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Are the Properties of Nonmetals?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/nonmetals-definition-and-properties-606659 (accessed August 6, 2021). copy citation Metals Versus Nonmetals - Comparing Properties Nonmetals Photo Gallery and Facts Metallic Character: Properties and Trends List of Periodic Table Groups Nonmetals List (Element Groups) Periodic Table of Element Groups Periodic Table Study Guide - Introduction & History Metalloids or Semimetals: Definition, List of Elements, and Properties Introduction to the Periodic Table What Are the Parts of the Periodic Table? Liquid Elements on the Periodic Table Periodic Table Definition in Chemistry Periodic Table for Kids Halogen Elements and Properties Family Definition in Chemistry How Is the Periodic Table Organized Today?