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Non-Metals And Their Properties – Characteristics Of Non-Metals

Non-Metals and Their Properties – Characteristics of Non-Metals

Chemistry topic – “Non-Metals and Their Properties – Characteristics of Non-Metals”, is important for all competitive exams like CET- Common eligibility Test,  SSC CGL, SSC CHSL, RRB NTPC, UPSC and other state civil services exams. In these exams, almost 4-5 Questions are coming from Chemistry. Let’s start the topic:

Non-Metals and Their Properties:

Non-metals are the elements which form negative ions by gaining an electron. Thus, non-metals are also known as Electronegative Elements.

  • Non-metals are the elements that do not conduct electricity and are neither malleable nor ductile.
  • Non-metal may be solid, liquid or gas.
  • Bromine is the only liquid non-metal.
  • Examples: Carbon (C), Silicon (Si), Hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O).

 Properties of Non-Metals:-

  • Hardness: Non-metals are not hard rather they are generally soft. But the diamond is an exception; it is the hardest naturally occurring substance.
  • State: Non-metals may be solid, liquid or gas.
  • Lustre: Non-metals have a dull appearance. Diamond and iodine are exceptions.
  • Sonority: Non-metals are not sonorous, i.e., they do not produce a typical sound on being hit.
  • Conduction: Non-metals are a bad conductor of heat and electricity. Graphite which is allotrope of carbon is a good conductor of electricity and is an exception.
  • Malleability and ductility: Non-metals are brittle.
  • Melting and boiling point: Non-metals have generally low melting and boiling points.
  • Density: Most of the non-metals have low density.
  • Colour: Non-metals are in many colours.

Use of Non-Metals:-

  • Oxygen is used for breathing.
  • Chlorine is used for purifying water.
  • Chlorine is also used in bleaching powder and liquid bleach, which are used for cleaning purposes.
  • Phosphorous is used in crackers.
  • Nitrogen is used in fertilizers.
  • Graphite is used as a good conductor of electricity.
  • Potassium is used in fertilizers.
  • Nitrogen is used by plants.
  • Graphite is used in making leads.
  • Bromine is used in dyes and pesticides.
  • Diamond is used in industries for cutting of glass, etc.
  • Coal, another form of carbon, is used as a fuel.
  • Iodine is used in the treatment of Goitre.

Important Non-metals:-

Carbon (C):

  • Carbon occurs both in a free state as well as in the combined state.
  • Carbon has two crystalline allotropes diamond and graphite.
  • Carbon in the form of diamond is a non-metal which is extremely hard.
  • Carbon in the form of graphite is non-metal which conduct electricity.

Allotropes of Carbon:


  • Diamond is the hardest substance and is the bad conductor of electricity.
  • Diamond is the purest form of the Carbon
  • Used in the making of jewellery and cutting glass.
  • Diamond is a non-metal which has a very high melting point and boiling point.


  • Graphite is also a allotrope of carbon.
  • Graphite is an exception. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity.
  • Used in the nuclear reactor as a moderator.

Compounds of Carbon:

Carbon Monoxide (CO):

  • It is colourless, odourless, neutral and highly poisonous gas in nature.
  • CO (carbon-mono-oxide) has higher affinity with haemoglobin. Due to this property, CO forms Carboxyhaemoglobin when mix with haemoglobin which is a toxic substance and not able to absorb oxygen. Thus resultant, leads to suffocation and causing death.
  • It is the reason, coal fire does not kept in a close room and slept.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2):

  • Carbon dioxide is colourless gas.
  • Carbon dioxide gas is the main responsible gas for global warming.
  • Plants require carbon dioxide to conduct photosynthesis. CO2to sustain and increase the rate of plant growth.
  • Solid CO2 is known as Dry ice.
  • CO2 is used as fire extinguisher.
  • The Earth’s atmosphere consists of 0.03% – 0.04% carbon dioxide
  • CO2 gas is main responsible gas for air pollution which exhausted from automobiles industries chimneys and volcano etc.
  • On heating of sodium bi-carbonate (NaHC – backing soda) it produce CO2 It is the reason that sodium bicarbonate use in bakery industries which makes bakery/bread bloated.

Oxygen (O):-

  • Oxygen is a gas at room temperature.
  • Oxygen is odourless, tasteless and colorless.
  • Oxygen exists in two allotropic forms that are in the most stable diatomic form (O2) and in a less stable triatomic form (O3) ozone.
  • Exists as two oxygen atoms bonded together – diatomic O2
  • Oxygen is the 3rd most abundant element found in the universe.
  • Oxygen is most abundant element present in our “earth-crust”.
  • The most abundant element present in human body is oxygen.
  • The Earth’s atmosphere consists of 21% oxygen.
  • Most living organisms on Earth need to breathe oxygen to live.
  • Oxygen is soluble in water. Hence, aquatic life is possible.
  • Plants produce oxygen through a process known as photosynthesis.
  • Ozone is an allotropic form of oxygen which form a layer in atmosphere, which absorb U.V. rays.
  • Ozone is use in the sterilization process.
  • Oxygen is the supporter of combustion but it is non-inflammable.

Nitrogen (N):

  • Nitrogen is a gas that is colorless, odourless and tasteless.
  • It is insoluble in water.
  • Nitrogen is a gas at room temperature.
  • It is a diatomic gas, N2.
  • Dinitrogen (N2) is most abundantly present around 78% of the Earth’s atmosphere (in third layer).
  • If there is no nitrogen in our atmosphere, our earth became to ash.
  • Nitrogen gas provides an inert atmosphere on the earth.
  • At the time of thundering, atmospheric nitrogen converted into nitrate, which improve the fertility of soil.
  • Nitrogen is the fourth most abundant element found in the human body.
  • The compound Nitrous oxide (N2o), also called nitrous or laughing gas, is used as Anaesthesia Substance by medical professionals.
  • Nitrogen + Argon are filled in electric blub.

Phosphorus (P):

  • Phosphorus is a highly reactive non-metal so, it does not occur in the Free State.
  • Phosphorus is an essential constituent of bones, teeth, blood nerves and tissue.
  • Bones contain approx. 80% phosphorus.


  • Sulphur occurs in the free-state in volcanic areas.
  • Sulphur is used in the rubber industry for vulcanization of rubber.
  • Sulphur exists in five allotropic forms.

Chlorine (Cl):

  • Chlorine is always present in the combined state in nature in the form of chlorides.
  • Chlorine is used as a bleaching agent.
  • It is used as a disinfectant and oxidizing agent.

Iodine (I):

  • Iodine is non-metal which is lustrous having a shining surface.
  • It is used as an antiseptic as tincture of Iodine.
  • Iodine is used in the treatment of Goitre.
  • Turns starch solution blue.

Non-Metals and Their Properties – Characteristics of Non-Metals

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