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Physical Properties of Metals


Aluminium, magnesium, silver, mercury, etc., appear white. Gold is yellow, while copper is reddish brown.


Metallic Lustre

The property of a metal having a shining surface is called metallic lustre. In pure state, metals have shining surfaces. For example gold, silver and copper have metallic lustre.



Metals are malleable, which means, they can be hammered into thin sheets. Silver and gold are among the most malleable metals. They can be hammered into thin foils much thinner than paper. Aluminium and copper metals are also highly malleable metals.


Example : Silver foils are used for decorative purposes on sweets. Aluminium foils are used for packing food items. Copper sheets are used to make utensils.



Metals like copper, aluminium, etc., can be drawn into thin wires. This property is known as ductility. However all metals are not equally ductile. Silver is one of the most ductile metals. You can draw a wire of about 100 m from 50 mg of silver metal.
It is due to the property of malleability and ductility, that metals can be given different shapes.
Thermal Conductivity
Metals allow heat to pass through them. They are also good conductors of heat. Silver is the best conductor of heat while lead is the poorest, among the metals. Aluminium is also a good conductor of heat. The iron nails, fixed with aluminium rod, fall one by one when they are heated.
Activity 1
Take a copper rod and clamp it to a stand. Paste iron nails to the copper rod, with the help of wax. Heat the rod. What do you observe? The iron nails attached to the copper rod fall one by one. The iron nails, which is closer to the flame falls first. This shows that the metals are good conductors of heat.
Electrical Conductivity
Metals allow electricity to pass through them easily. So they are good conductors of electricity. Silver and copper are the best conductors of electricity. These are followed by gold, aluminium and tungsten. However mercury is a poor conductor of electricity.
Activity 2
Take a dry cell, a torch bulb, connecting wires, crocodile clips and connect them.



The property of producing a deep ringing sound is called sonorous. Metals are used for making bells and strings of musicals instruments due to this property.
The physical properties of metals can be summarised as follows:
  1. Most metals are silver or grey in colour.
  2. Metals have metallic lustre.
  3. All metals are solid, except mercury which is a liquid.
  4. Most metals are hard, except sodium and potassium which can be cut with a knife.
  5. Metals can be drawn out into wires (i.e. they are ductile).
  6. Metals can be pounded into thin sheets (i.e. they are malleable).
  7. Generally, metals do not readily break when stretched (i.e. they have high tensile strength).
  8. Most metals have high melting and boiling points except sodium and potassium.
  9. Metals are good conductors of heat and electricity.
  10. Metals have high densities except sodium and potassium.
  11. Most metals are sonorous.

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