Iron, magnesium and gold are examples of metal elements. Metals have properties in common. They are:

  • shiny, especially when they are freshly cut
  • good conductors of heat and electricity
  • malleable (they can be bent and shaped without breaking)

Most metals also have other properties in common. They are:

  • solid at room temperature, except mercury
  • hard and strong
  • they have a high density
  • they are sonorous
Drops of liquid mercury on a hard surface
Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature

Three metals (iron, cobalt and nickel) are magnetic. Steel is a mixture of elements but it is mostly iron, so it is also magnetic. The other metal elements are not magnetic.

Reactions of metals

Metals react with oxygen to produce compounds called metal oxides. For example, magnesium reacts with oxygen to produce magnesium oxide. The reaction can be represented by this word equation:

magnesium + oxygen → magnesium oxide

Metal oxides are bases. They react with acids and neutralise them. Some metal oxides dissolve in water and, when they do, they produce alkaline solutions.

You can find out more about acids and alkalis in this Chemistry study guide.