You are given a hammer, a battery, a bulb, wires and a switch.

(a) How could you use them to distinguish between samples of metals and non-metals?

(b) Assess the usefulness of these tests in distinguishing between metals and nonmetals.



By the given materials, 2 sets of experiments can be done in order to distinguish if a given substance is metal or nonmetal.

  1. The Hammer can be used to check the malleability, hardness, and sonority of a substance.
  • Metals are malleable , that is, they can be broken down into thin sheets without breaking
  • Most metals are hard . They don’t break/deform when force is applied. 
  • Metals are sonorous . They make sounds when hit. 
  • Non-metals are Brittle, soft, and not sonorous .


  1. A bulb , wires and a switch can be used to check the electrical conductivity of a substance.
    A set up of a bulb, wire, 2 holders and a switch can be made as shown below.

Test for electrical conductivity of metals-01.jpg


Now, attach the substances to be tested in the holders one by one

Test for electrical conductivity of metals & Non metals - Teachoo.png

  •   Metals conduct electricity . So, if the substance is metallic the bulb will light up when the switch is on.
  • Non-metals are poor conductors. The bulb will not light up when the switch is on.


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CA Maninder Singh is a Chartered Accountant for the past 13 years and a teacher from the past 17 years. He teaches Science, Economics, Accounting and English at Teachoo