Need Help?

Get in touch with us


Chemical Properties of Non-Metals

Grade 10
Jul 25, 2023


A chemical element is a substance that cannot be broken down by chemical means. There are 118 known elements. An element can be segregated  into :

  • Metals
  • Non-metals
  • Metalloid ( possesses properties of both metal and nonmetals)

What Are Chemical Properties?

Chemical characteristics are those properties of matter that can only be viewed and measured by a chemical change or reaction. Chemical properties cannot be determined by touching or examining a sample; chemical properties must be revealed by altering the sample’s structure.

Here are some examples of chemical properties:

  • Reactivity with other chemicals
  • Toxicity
  • Coordination number
  • Flammability
  • Enthalpy of formation
  • Heat of combustion
  • Oxidation states
  • Chemical stability

What Is a Non-metal?

These elements in their outermost shell contain 4, 5, 6, or 7 electrons. They are located on the right-hand side of the periodic table and they are the minority on the periodic table. Hydrogen is the exception, as it is found in the upper left corner of the periodic table which behaves as a nonmetal at room temperature and pressure. Hydrogen acts as an alkali metal under conditions of high pressure.

Chemical Properties of Non-metals :

1. Reaction with Air:

They form covalent oxides when they react with oxygen. Such oxides are neutal or acidic in nature. Acids oxide of non-metal dissolve in water to form corresponding acids. Reaction of some non metal with oxygen are given below:


Nitrogen  + oxygen +Hydrogenà Nitrous oxide       (neutral)

Nitrogen + oxygen +Hydrogenà Nitric oxide            (neutral)

Nitrogen + oxygen à Nitrogen dioxide  (acidic)

C + O2 à CO   (In the limited supply of oxygen)

C + O2 à CO2 (In the excess supply of oxygen)


H+ O2  à H2O

2. Reaction with Water:

Non-metals do not react with water (or steam) to evolve hydrogen gas, as, non-metals give electrons to reduce the hydrogen ions of water into hydrogen gas.

Phosphorus is kept stored in water because when it is exposed to air it catches fire.

Sulphur does not react with water. Sulphur reacts with oxygen to form sulphur di oxide which further reacts with water to form sulphuric acid.

SO2 + H2O à H2SO3

3. Reaction of  non-metals with Acids:

Non-metals do not displace hydrogen from dilute acids. This is because non-metals are not able to give electrons for the reduction of H+. Some non-metals however react with concentrated oxidising acids to form the corresponding oxyacids.

For example, sulphur reacts with conc. Nitric acid gives sulphuric acid.

Sulphur + nitric acid (conc)    à  Sulphuric acid + Nitrogen dioxide + water

4. Reaction of Non-metals with Bases :

It results in a very complex reaction when non-metals react with bases.

When bases like sodium hydroxide react with non-metal like chlorine gives products like sodium hypochlorite, sodium chloride as well as water.

5. Reaction of Metal with Non-metal:

Ions are formed when electrons are transferred from metal atoms to non-metal atoms when they both react with each other. Ionic compounds are formed from this process.

Elements can gain or lose electrons in order to attain their nearest noble gas configuration. Formation of ions (either by gaining or losing electrons) for the completion of octets helps them gain stability.

In a reaction between metals and non-metals, metals generally lose electrons to complete their octet while non-metals gain electrons to complete their octet. Metals and non-metals generally react to form ionic compounds.

Reactions between metals and non-metals include:

2Na (Sodium) + Cl2 (Chlorine) → 2NaCl (Sodium Chloride)

2Mg (Magnesium) + O2 (oxygen) → 2MgO (Magnesium oxide)

Ca (Calcium) + Cl2 (chlorine) → CaCl2 (Calcium chloride)

2Al (Aluminium) + 3Cl2 (Chlorine) → 2AlCl3 (Aluminium Chloride)

2Na (Sodium) + S (Sulphur) → Na2S (Sodium Sulphide)

6. Reaction of Non-metal with Chlorine:

When a non-metal reacts with chlorine it forms a “covalent

compound”. Covalent bonds form when two or more nonmetals combine. For example, both hydrogen and oxygen are nonmetals, and when they combine to make water, they do so by forming covalent bonds. Compounds that are composed of only non-metals or semi-metals with non-metals will display covalent bonding and will be classified as molecular compounds.

When phosphorus combines with chlorine it forms phosphous trichloride.

 P   + Cl2  à PCl3


  • A chemical property is a characteristic of a substance that may be observed when it participates in a chemical reaction.
  • Chemical Reactions-
  • Non-Metal + Air(oxygen) = Oxides of Non-metal
  • Sulphur + Water = No reaction
  • Non-Metals + Acids = No reaction
  • Non-Metals + Metals = Ionic Compound
  • Non-Metal + Chlorine = Covalent Compound
  • When metals react with non-metals, electrons are transferred from the metal atoms to the non-metal atoms,
  • forming ions. The resulting compound is called an ionic compound.
  • A covalent bond is formed by the equal sharing of electrons from both participating atoms.
Chemical Properties of Non-Metals


Related topics

Versatile Nature of Carbon

Versatile Nature of Carbon: Saturated Hydrocarbons (Alkanes)

Introduction: Carbon is one of the most important non-metallic elements. This is because carbon atoms make up the backbone of many important molecules in the human body, including proteins, DNA and RNA, sugars, and fats. The special significance of carbon lies in forming two types of compounds—organic and inorganic compounds. The entire field of organic […]

Inorganic carbon compounds

Details and Examples of Inorganic Carbon Compounds

Introduction: Carbon is one of the most valuable non-metallic elements. Carbon atoms make up the backbone of many important molecules in the human body, including proteins, DNA, RNA, sugars, and fats. The special significance of carbon lies in forming two types of compounds—organic and inorganic compounds. The study of the chemistry of carbon and its […]

elements and compounds

Elements and Compounds: Formation of Chemicals

Element: A single item in the current periodic table corresponds to an element, which is a complete chemical compound. Only one type of atom can be found in an element. They can exist as atoms or molecules and cannot be divided into smaller pieces. IUPAC has allocated symbols to each element that serve as their […]

composition of air

Composition of Air and Experimental Findings

Introduction: Air is a homogeneous mixture of gases. The Earth is surrounded by a thick blanket of air called the atmosphere. The planet Earth has endowed us with the necessities of life, like air, water, food, etc. Among these, the air is the most vital for life, and hence, indispensable. Man can live for several […]


Other topics