Physical Properties of Metals

Olawunmi Omosanya - Thu, 25th April, 2019 @ 20:42: PM

Physical properties of Metals:

Before we look into the physical properties of metals, it will be great if we first understood what metals really are. Majority of the naturally occurring elements on planet earth are actually metals. They normally do not exist in their pure form because rocks, sand and some other earthen particles are mixed with them. They are called ore in this state, for instance iron ore, tin ore, zinc ore and so on. When extracted from the earth, they need to be purified before being used for the various beautiful things around us like airplanes, cars, engine and so on.

Recall that matter exists in three states and these are:


Metals are generally solids at room temperature. Mercury is a metal that exists as a liquid at room temperature. All metals will generally lose electrons(s) to form positive ions (called cations) in a chemical reaction. They are thus electropositive elements. You may read our article on periodic table HERE

Ideally, one of the ways to identify an object is through its physical properties and metals are no exception. Metals have also got chemical properties too but in this article, we will look into the physical properties or characteristics of metals.


Below are the physical properties or characteristics of metals


  • State

They exist in the solid state at room temperature. Mercury is an exception because it exist in the liquid state at room temperature.


  • Density / Mass / Weight

They generally have high densities. Of all metals, lithium has the lowest density while osmium has the highest density.


  • Conductors

With regards to heat and electricity, a metal is an object that can transfer heat and electricity. Metals are generally good conductors of heat and electricity. Lead is the poorest conductor of heat while Bismuth is the poorest conductor of electricity. Silver is the greatest conductor of both heat and electricity.


  • Luster

This is a feature that has to do with the state or quality of being able to be polished and the ability to shine, glow, sparkle, glitter or reflect light. Metals generally have the luster quality.


  • Malleability

Malleability is the ability of an object to withstand the process of hammering, through which it can be bent or flattened and eventually made into thin sheets called foils. Metals can also take different shapes because of their malleability feature. Gold is the most malleable metal. Read our article on gold HERE.


  • Ductility

Being ductile is the ability of an object to be drawn into wires; for instance copper wires and aluminium wires are wires drawn from copper and aluminium respectively. Metals are generally ductile of which platinum is the most ductile of all.


  • Magnetism

Metals are generally poor magnets.


  • Melting Point

The melting point (also called liquefaction point) of an substance is that point at which it changes from solid to liquid. Metals have high melting points. The metal Tungsten (W) has got the highest melting point at 3422°C while mercury (Hg) has the lowest melting point at -38.829°F.


  • Boiling Points

The boiling point of a liquid is the temperature at which the vapour pressure of the liquid equals the external atmospheric pressure. When metals are heated, they melt into liquid before they start to boil. Metals generally have high boiling points. Since mercury exists as liquid, it has the lowest boiling point of all metals. The metal Tungsten (W) has got the highest boiling point at 3422°C.


  • Hardness

With the exception of Lithium (Li), sodium (Na) and potassium (K) which are soft metals, most metals are grenerally hard.


  • Color

Most metals come in a variety of colors while some are opaque.


  • Sonorous

This is the ability of an object to make sound. Metals are generally sonorous.                                                                     

Topics in Chemistry

Physical and Chemical properties of Acids Matter, Mass and Weight Interesting facts about Gold Differences between Molecular Mass and Molar Mass Introduction to Organic Chemistry Emperical Formula explained with worked example Periodic table and Classification of Elements Daltons Atomic Theory and its Modifications Physical Properties of Metals Grahams law of diffusion


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