Most elements are metals, rather than non-metals. The table summarises some differences in their properties.
|State at room temperature||Solid (except mercury, which is a liquid)||About half are solids, about half are gases, and one (bromine) is a liquid|
|Density||High (they feel heavy for their size)||Low (they feel light for their size)|
|Malleable or brittle||Malleable (they bend without breaking)||Brittle (they break or shatter when hammered)|
|Conduction of heat||Good||Poor (they are insulators)|
|Conduction of electricity||Good||Poor (they are insulators, apart from graphite)|
|Magnetic material||Only iron, cobalt and nickel||None|
|Sound when hit||They make a ringing sound (they are sonorous)||They make a dull sound|
|Type of oxide||Basic or alkaline||Acidic|
Notice that metals and non-metals have opposite properties to each other. It is usually easy to tell metals and non-metals apart, but some tests are more reliable than others.
For example, using a magnet is not a good test to see if an element is a metal. This is because only three metals are magnetic.