- For alternative meanings see metal (disambiguation).
Metals have certain characteristic physical properties: they are usually shiny (they have "lustre"), have a high density, are ductile and malleable, usually have a high melting point, are usually hard, and conduct electricity and heat well. These properties are mainly because each atom exerts only a loose hold on its outermost electrons (valence electrons); thus, the valence electrons form a sort of sea around the atoms. Most metals are chemically stable, with the notable exception of the alkali metals and alkaline earth metals, found in the leftmost two groups of the periodic table.
Nonmetals are more abundant in nature than are metals, but metals in fact constitute most of the periodic table. Some well-known metals are aluminium, copper, gold, iron, lead, silver, titanium, uranium, and zinc.
An alloy is a mixture with metallic properties that contains at least one metal element. Examples of alloys are steel (iron and carbon), brass (copper and zinc), bronze (copper and tin), and duralumin (aluminium and copper). Alloys specially designed for highly demanding applications, such as jet engines, may contain more than ten elements.
The oxides of metals are basic; those of nonmetals are acidic. The allotropes of metals tend to be lustrous, ductile, malleable, and good conductorss, while nonmetals generally speaking are brittle (for solid nonmetals), lack luster, and are insulators.