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The periodic table of the elements with metallic elements colored in green, nonmetallic in orange and metalloids in blue.
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L.Gardiner/Windows to the Universe

Metals, Nonmetals, & Metalloids

The periodic table on the left separates the elements into three groups: the metals (green in the table), nonmetals (orange), and metalloids (blue).

Most elements are metals. They are typically shiny, good conductors of heat and electricity, have a high density, and only melt at high temperatures. Metals are ductile and malleable, so their shape can be easily changed into thin wires or sheets. Metals will corrode, gradually wearing away like rusting iron.

Nonmetals, on the right side of the periodic table, are very different from metals. Their surface is dull and they are poor conductor of heat and electricity. As compared to metals, they have low density and will melt at low temperatures. The shape of a nonmetal cannot be changed easily as they tend to be brittle and will break.

Elements that have properties of both metals and nonmetals are called metalloids. They can be shiny or dull and their shape is easily changed. Metalloids typically conduct heat and electricity better than nonmetals but not as well as metals.

Last modified April 18, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

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The Fall 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, focuses on rocks and minerals, including articles on minerals and mining, the use of minerals in society, and rare earth minerals, and includes 3 posters!

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