Elements for Kids
The nonmetals are a group of elements in the periodic table. They are located to the right of the metalloids and to the left of the halogens. These elements are often referred to as "other nonmetals" as the halogens and noble gases are also nonmetals. The other nonmetals are some of the most abundant elements in the universe including the Earth's crust, the atmosphere, and the human body.
What elements are nonmetals?
The elements that are generally considered other nonmetals include hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, oxygen, sulfur, and selenium. Nitrogen and phosphorus are included in the subgroup pnictogens. Oxygen, sulfur, and selenium are included in the subgroup chalcogens.
What are the similar properties of nonmetals?
Nonmetals share many similar properties including:
- They are either gas (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen) or solid (carbon, sulfur) under standard conditions.
- They are not good conductors of electricity or heat.
- They are very brittle in their solid form.
- They are not malleable or ductile.
- They generally have lower densities than metals.
- They generally have lower melting and boiling points than metals. The one exception to this is carbon.
- They have high ionization energies.
The other nonmetals are some of the most abundant elements in the universe. Hydrogen is the number one most abundant element with oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen being the third, fourth, and seventh most abundant respectively.
Nitrogen and oxygen make up most of the Earth's atmosphere with nitrogen making up 78 percent and oxygen around 21 percent.
The four most abundant elements by mass in the human body are other nonmetals including oxygen (65%), carbon (18%), hydrogen (10%), and nitrogen (3%).
The most abundant of the other nonmetals in the Earth's crust is oxygen which is the single most abundant element in the Earth's crust.
Interesting Facts about Nonmetals
- Water is made up of the two nonmetals oxygen and hydrogen.
- Even counting the halogens and the noble gases there are only 18 elements in the periodic table that are considered nonmetals.
- Many nonmetals can gain metallic properties under very high pressures.
- Selenium gets its name from the Greek word "selene" which means "Moon."
- Carbon is the single most important element to the existence of life on Earth.
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