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The properties of non-metals

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Tutor: Alisha


The properties of non-metals

In a nutshell

Non-metals vary, this means they have different properties, unlike metals that share many similar properties. Non-metal properties are quite the opposite to metal properties. Non-metals are not good conductors, they are often good insulators as current cannot flow through and heat does not transfer well. They are often dull and brittle, with a low tensile strength. Non-metals are never magnetic and when compared to metals they have low melting and boiling points as well as a low density.

Properties of non-metals summarised

Unlike metals, properties of non-metals vary meaning they do not have similar properties. They are summarised in the below table.


further information

Good electrical insulator
Electrical current does not flow through these materials.
Good thermal insulator
Materials that do not transfer heat well.
Materials that do not reflect light well, which gives them a dull appearance.
Low tensile strength 
Materials that break or snap easily.
Materials that shatter easily.
Low melting and boiling points
Forces between particles are weak, which means a low amount of energy is required to break these forces. This means non-metals melt/boil fast.
Low density
They are light for their size.
All non-metals are non-magnetic.

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Why do non-metals have low melting and boiling points?

Are non-metals magnetic?

Why are non-metals dull?


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