Metal atoms contain few electrons in their outer shell, whereas non-metal atoms have many electrons. This indicates that metals have a proclivity to react with nonmetals. Electrons pass from the metal to the nonmetal when it interacts with it. For example, if you put a copper penny in liquid nitrogen, it will become white because the electrons in the copper penny flow into the nitrogen molecule and form damps - which are white particles.
Non-metals can also gain electrons. For example, oxygen molecules can be reduced by carbon atoms. Elements such as hydrogen, helium, neon, argon, and sulfur are classified as non-metals because they lack an electron cloud around their nucleus.
Metals are very reactive because they contain fewer electrons than non-metals. Metals can lose electrons to form other elements or compounds. For example, iron (Fe) can lose one or two electrons to form iron(III) compounds such as ferrous sulfate or ferric chloride. Iron can also lose three electrons to form iron(II) compounds such as ferrous sulfide or ferrous oxide. When metals lose electrons, they are said to be oxidized. For example, copper is oxidized when it loses an electron to form copper(I) ions. Copper is then reduced back to copper(0) when another electron is given off.
When metals react with nonmetals, electrons are transferred from metal atoms to nonmetal atoms, resulting in the formation of ions. The resultant product is referred to as an ionic compound. Sodium chloride and sodium chloride are examples of metal-nonmetal reactions. In sodium chloride, a single layer of electrons is transferred from sodium atoms to chlorine atoms, forming cationic compounds of sodium and chlorine.
Ionic compounds can be soluble or insoluble in water. If they are soluble, they form solutions. Insoluble ionic compounds do not form solutions. A salt is formed when an ionic compound reacts with another substance. For example, when saltwater reacts with wood, the sodium and chloride ions in the saltwater replace the hydroxide ions present in the wood molecules.
Ionic compounds contain charge distributions within their structures. Ions are charged particles that possess electric charges due to having missing electrons. Ions are part of ionic compounds because they result from the reaction of anions (negatively charged atoms or groups) with cations (positively charged atoms or groups). Ionic compounds consist of ions that are bonded by electrostatic forces to the same species of atom or group of atoms. The type of bond that exists between ions and their bonding partners is called an ionic bond. Ionic bonds are strong interactions that cause ions to remain in solution even at high concentrations.
Metals are known for their strength, conductivity, and high melting points. However, their forms, like nonmetals, arise as a separate mix of electrons, protons, and neutrons. All elements, metals and nonmetals alike, may change state or react. The only difference is that some states or reactions are favorable for a metal, while others are favorable for a nonmetal.
One similarity between metals and non-metals is that they both can exist by themselves or in combination with other elements. For example, nitrogen exists as an inert gas by itself but it also contributes to the formation of ammonia when combined with hydrogen atoms. Ammonia is used in fertilizers and explosives.
Another example is silicon which can exist as a solid, a liquid, or a gaseous element under standard conditions. Silicon is important because it is the basis of most minerals and compounds containing carbon such as silica, quartz, glass, and asphalt. It can be found in many substances where it has a major role to play including sand, rock, flour, syrup, and honey.
Finally, there is iron. This metal can either be in its elemental form or incorporated into other molecules. In its pure form, iron is hard and brittle but when mixed with other elements it can become soft and malleable.
The ease with which an element obtains electrons is referred to as non-metal activity. Metal activity is the ease with which an element loses electrons. The ease with which an element loses electrons is referred to as non-metal activity. The ease with which an element obtains electrons is referred to as metal activity. These properties determine how easily elements can enter chemical reactions and why some are more reactive than others.
Non-metals tend to be less reactive than metals because they lack a full outer shell. They can lose or gain electrons by interacting with other atoms, but cannot change their number of electrons as a whole like metals. Non-metals include carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur and hydrogen.
Metals must have a full outer shell to be stable. They can only lose or gain electrons while keeping their number of electrons in a fixed state. Metals include copper, zinc, silver, gold, lead, and mercury.
Elements can be classified as non-metals or metals based on their behavior in reactions. If an element tends to lose electrons during reactions, it is a metal. If it tends to gain electrons, it is a non-metal. Some elements such as chlorine, bromine, iodine, and potassium are both metals and non-metals depending on what property they exhibit in a reaction.