Metals and nonmetals both have physical properties as well as chemical properties. According to the physical properties both metals and nonmetals are very much opposite to each other. But there are certain nonmetals which show similar properties to those of metals. But then what about chemical properties?
Chemical properties tell us how metals and nonmetals react with other elements and compounds around them. Trust me, it is very interesting to know how metals and nonmetals react in very different ways with other elements and compounds. Due to which it is easier for us to differentiate between a metal and a nonmetal according to their chemical properties.
Now before studying the chemical properties of metals and nonmetals it is important to understand that metals and nonmetals have different reactivity. Do you know which metal or nonmetal is the most reactive or which are the least reactive? This question had arisen in scientists mind long ago so through some experiments they created a reactivity series.
What is Reactivity Series?
Reactivity series is a list of metals arranged according to their reactivity. The list contains metals like potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, aluminium, zinc, iron, lead, copper, mercury, silver and gold.
The topmost metals in the reactivity series are the most reactive like potassium and sodium. They are so reactive that if you leave them open in air, they will react with everything possible around them very vigorously especially with oxygen and catch fire. As you go down the series, you will find that the reactivity of metals is decreasing.
So if we consider iron which is less reactive, is present in the middle. You can keep iron exposed to air. It will react with oxygen but very slowly. So it becomes very important for us to learn this reactivity series.
In case of nonmetals we just need to remember a few very reactive nonmetals like phosphorus, chlorine, oxygen, etc. Phosphorus is so reactive that it has to be kept away from air. If kept in open, it catches fire immediately when it comes in contact with oxygen. Now, there will be certain situations where we’ll have to compare the reactivity of metals with nonmetals like carbon and hydrogen. So, let us include carbon and hydrogen in the reactivity series of metals.
Carbon is placed between aluminum and zinc in the reactivity series. This tells us that metals above carbon in the list are more reactive than carbon. Whereas metals placed below carbon in the list are less reactive than carbon.
Similarly, hydrogen is placed in between lead and copper. Thus, metals above hydrogen are more reactive than hydrogen. So, metals which are below hydrogen like copper, mercury, silver and gold, they are less reactive than hydrogen.
So, now finally you all have been introduced to the chemical properties of metals and nonmetals by learning the reactivity series of them.