20 Different Types Of Metals And Their Properties

You know how metals and all those fancy manufacturing techniques played a massive role in kickstarting the industrial revolution, right? Well, that revolution totally changed the game and catapulted human civilization to a whole new level.

Thinking about how far we’ve come since then is wild. I mean, look around! We’ve got all types of metals everywhere you turn. They’re like the building blocks of our modern world.

What Is Metal?

Metals are substances that form naturally below the surface of the Earth. Most metals are lustrous or shiny. Metals are inorganic, which means they are made of substances that were never alive.

Metals are opaque, lustrous elements that are good conductors of heat and electricity. Most metals are malleable and ductile and are, in general, denser than other elemental substances.

Metal is very strong and durable and therefore is used to make many things. These are used for making automobiles, satellites, cooking utensils, etc.

Most metals are hard, but some are not. Sodium and potassium are such metals that can be cut by knife whereas mercury is a liquid metal at room temperature. Iron is solid in nature.

Out of all the elements in the periodic table, about 95 out of 118 are most likely metals. But, just to keep things interesting, the exact number can be a bit fuzzy because people haven’t agreed on the exact definition of what makes something a metal, non-metal, or semimetal.

It’s like they’re always debating about it or something. And get this, there are literally thousands of different types of metals out there! Each one is designed for specific jobs and purposes. It’s like they’ve got a metal for everything you can think of.

Types of Metals

Metals are basically two main groups: ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals. Ferrous metals are the ones that have iron in them, while non-ferrous metals don’t have any iron. It’s as simple as that!

Types of metals

These are the different types of Metals:

#1. IRON (Wrought or Cast).

Iron comprises almost 5% of the Earth. Therefore, it is an easy metal to find. However, pure metal is not a stable element, as it immediately reacts with the oxygen present in the air, creating iron oxide.

Taking iron from its ores requires the use of a blast furnace. The first stage of the blast furnace will yield pig iron, which can be refined further to obtain pure iron. This iron usually ends up in steel and other alloys. This is why almost 90% of manufactured metals are ferrous in nature.

Iron is the most used and cheapest metal. There are three types: pig iron, cast iron, and wrought iron.

  • Pig iron: a crude form of iron, used as a raw material to produce various other ferrous metals, such as cast iron and steel.
  • Cast iron: created by melting pig iron with coke and limestone. Cast iron tends to be brittle and is notoriously difficult to weld. However, it is an ideal engineering material with a wide range of applications, particularly in the automotive industry. This is due to its relatively low melting point, castability, excellent machinability, and resistance to both deformation and wear.
  • Wrought iron: tough, ductile, and corrosion-resistant, wrought iron is a type of highly purified metal, with small amounts of silicate slag molded into the filaments. This means it is ideal for forging into products such as guard rails, gates, and garden furniture. However, mild steel (see below) has replaced wrought iron.

#2. STEEL.

Pure iron is stronger than other types of metal but leaves something to be desired. Plain old iron isn’t so great when it comes to standing up against rust.

You got to spend a ton of cash and energy to keep that stuff from corroding. These downsides can make building and maintaining structures a real headache.

But hey, here’s where carbon comes to the rescue! When you mix carbon with iron, you get carbon steel, and it’s a game-changer. Adding carbon makes the iron way stronger and gives it all sorts of awesome properties.

Steel is basically just iron mixed with carbon, with the ratio usually being around 99% iron and 1% carbon, although it can vary a bit.

Get this, man, in 2017, the world produced over 1.8 billion tons of steel, and half of that came from China. Imagine this, an average African elephant weighs around 5 tons.

Now, picture stacking elephants on top of each other to build a bridge to the moon (which, by the way, is totally impossible). Even that crazy elephant bridge wouldn’t weigh as much as the steel produced in just one year!

There are a lot of different kinds of steel. Here’s an overview of the main types:

#3. CARBON STEEL.

This is the basic steel, good carbon, and iron, although some other very small amounts of other elements can be added. The three general categories are low, medium, and high-carbon steel. More carbon means harder and stronger. Less carbon means cheaper, softer, and easier to manufacture.

Carbon steel is most commonly used as a construction material, in simple mechanical components, and various tools.

#4. ALLOY STEEL.

Think of it as genetically modified steel. Alloy steel is made by adding other elements to the mixture. This changes the properties and makes the metal essentially customizable. This is a very common type of metal as it is still generally very cheap to make.

Common alloying elements for steel include manganese, vanadium, chromium, nickel, and tungsten. Each of these elements changes the properties of the metal in different ways.

For example, alloy steel can add strength to high-performance gears, add resistance to corrosion and wear to medical implants, and increase the pressure pipelines can handle. It is widely considered to be the workhorse of the metal world.

#5. STAINLESS STEEL.

Technically this is a kind of alloy steel, but there are so many types in such massive quantities that it usually gets its category. This is the steel that is specifically focused on corrosion resistance.

This is just steel with a noticeable amount of chromium. The chromium creates a super-thin barrier when it corrodes which slows rust. If you scratch off the barrier, a new one will immediately form.

You’ll see a lot of this in kitchens; knives, tables, utensils, and anything that comes into contact with food.

Note: Just because something is stainless steel, that doesn’t mean that it can’t rust. Different compositions will prevent rusting to various degrees.

Stainless steel that’s used around saltwater needs to be especially corrosion resistant so it doesn’t rot out. But all the types of stainless will rust if not cleaned and properly cared for.

More Resources: What is Stainless Steel?

#6. ALUMINUM.

Aluminum derives primarily from its ore bauxite. It is light, strong, and functional. It is the most widespread metal on Earth and its use has permeated applications everywhere.

This is because of its properties such as durability, lightweight, corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, and ability to form alloys with most metals. It also doesn’t magnetize and is easy to machine.

As far as metals go, this is a modern one. Aluminum was first made in 1825, and since then it’s been the foundation for some massive accomplishments.

Read more: Who Discover The Aluminum?

For example, because of its amazing strength-to-weight ratio, this is the metal that’s largely responsible for flight and getting a man to the moon. It’s easily formed (malleable), and it doesn’t rust, which makes it great for soda cans. And, (arguably) most importantly, it can be made into a really thin sheet that can be used to BBQ fresh-caught fish to moist perfection.

While the process for making aluminum is a bit more complicated than some of the other metals, it’s an extremely common metal. It’s the most common non-ferrous (not containing iron) metal on the planet.

While it doesn’t rust, it will oxidize. Iron is the only metal that “rusts” by definition. Aluminum will corrode when it comes in contact with salt. However, it will not corrode in contact with water. This makes aluminum useful for making things like freshwater boats.

#7. MAGNESIUM.

Magnesium is a really cool metal. It’s about 2/3rds the weight of aluminum, and it has comparable strength. It’s becoming more and more common because of this. Most commonly, you’ll see this as an alloy.

That means that it’s mixed with other metals and elements to make a hybrid material with specific properties. This can also make it easier to use for manufacturing processes.

One of the most popular applications of magnesium is in the automotive industry. Magnesium is considered a step up from aluminum when it comes to high-strength weight reduction, and it’s not astronomically more expensive.

Some places where you’ll see magnesium on a performance car are in the wheel rims, engine blocks, and transmission cases.

There are disadvantages to magnesium, though. Compared to aluminum, it will corrode more easily. For example, it will corrode when in contact with water, whereas aluminum will not.

Overall, it’s about double the price of aluminum, but it’s generally faster to deal with in manufacturing. Magnesium is flammable, and it burns super-hot. Metal chips, filings, and powder need to be carefully disposed of to prevent explosions.

#8. COPPER.

When talking about different types of metals, copper and its alloys cannot be overlooked. It has a long history because it is easy to form. Even today, it is an important metal in the industry. It does not occur in nature in its pure form. Thus, smelting and extracting from ore is necessary.

Metals are good conductors and copper stands out more than the others. Due to its excellent electrical conductivity, it finds application in electrical circuits as a conductor.

Its conductivity is second only to silver. It has also excellent heat conductivity. This is why many cooking utensils are from copper.

Copper is another old-fashioned metal. Today you’ll see it often as an alloy (more on that later) or in a reasonably pure state. Common applications include electronics, water pipes, and giant statues that represent liberty.

Copper will form a patina or an oxidized layer, that will prevent further corrosion. Essentially, it’ll turn green and stop corroding. This can make it last for centuries.

The Statue of Liberty is made of copper, and it’s covered by a patina, or oxide layer, that makes it look greenish-blue.

#9. BRASS.

Brass is actually an alloy of copper and zinc. The resulting yellow metal is really useful for a number of reasons. Its goldish color makes it really popular for decorations. It’s common to see this metal used in antique furniture as handles and knobs.

The amount of each of the metals may vary depending on the electrical and mechanical properties sought of the metal. It also contains trace amounts of other metallic elements such as aluminum, lead, and manganese.

Brass is a great candidate for low-friction applications such as locks, bearings, plumbing, musical instruments, tools, and fittings. It is indispensable in intrinsically safe applications to prevent sparks and allow usage in flammable environments.

It’s also extremely malleable, meaning that it can be hammered out and formed. Another really cool property of brass is that it will never spark. A steel hammer, for example, can make a spark if you hit it a certain way.

A brass hammer doesn’t do that. This means that brass tools are great for areas that might be around flammable gases, liquids, or powders.

#10. BRONZE.

Bronze is also an alloy of copper. But instead of zinc, bronze contains tin. Adding other elements such as phosphorus, manganese, silicon, and aluminum may improve its properties and suitability for a particular application.

Bronze is brittle, hard, and resists fatigue well. It also has good electrical and thermal conductivity and corrosion resistance.

Bronze finds application in the manufacturing of mirrors and reflectors. It is used for electrical connectors. Due to its corrosion resistance, it finds usage in submerged parts and ship fittings.

Bronze has massive historical significance (like in the Bronze Age) and is easy to pick out. One commonplace to see it is in massive church bells. Bronze is tough and strong, so it doesn’t crack or bend like other metals when it’s being rung. It also sounds better.

Modern uses include sculptures and art, springs, and bearings, as well as guitar strings. Bronze was the first man-made alloy.

#11. ZINC.

Zinc is a widespread metal and finds a lot of use in the medical and industrial sectors. Zinc is a really common metal that’s used in coatings to protect other metals. For example, it’s common to see galvanized steel, which is just steel dipped in zinc.

This will help to prevent rusting. Zinc is also used to manufacture die castings for the electrical, hardware, and automobile industry.

Since zinc has low electrochemical potential, its uses include marine applications to prevent corrosion of other metals through cathodic protection. Sacrificial zinc anodes may protect valves, pipelines, and tanks.

This is an interesting metal because of how useful it is. On its own, it has a pretty low melting point which makes it very easy to cast. The material flows easily when melted and the resulting pieces are relatively strong. It’s also very easy to melt it back down to recycle it.

#12. TITANIUM.

Titanium is an important engineering metal due to its being strong and lightweight. It also has high thermal stability even at temperatures as high as 480 degrees Celsius. Due to these properties, it finds application in the aerospace industry.

Military equipment is one use case for this metal. Since titanium is also corrosion-resistant, medical applications also use it. Titanium is also used in the chemical and sporting goods industry.

This is a really amazing modern metal. It was first discovered in 1791, first created in its pure form in 1910, and first made outside of a laboratory in 1932.

Titanium is actually really common (the 7th most abundant metal on Earth), but it’s really hard to refine. This is why this metal is so expensive. It’s also really worthwhile:

Titanium is biocompatible, meaning that your body won’t fight and reject it. Medical implants are commonly made from titanium. Its strength-to-weight ratio is higher than any other metal. This makes it extremely valuable for anything that flies.

Titanium nitride (titanium that’s reacted with nitrogen in a high-energy vacuum) is an insanely hard and low-friction coating that’s applied to metal cutting tools. Titanium isn’t found naturally on its own. It’s always bonded to another element.

#13. TUNGSTEN.

Tungsten has the highest melting point and the highest tensile strength of any of the pure metals. This makes it extremely useful.

About half of all tungsten is used to make tungsten carbide. This is an insanely hard material that’s used for cutting tools (for mining and metalworking), abrasives, and heavy equipment. It can easily cut titanium and high-temperature superalloys.

It gets its name from the Swedish word “tungsten“, which means “heavy stone”. It’s about 1.7 times the density of lead. Tungsten is also a popular alloying element.

Since its melting point is so high, it’s often alloyed with other elements to make things like rocket nozzles that have to be able to handle extreme temperatures.

#14. NICKEL.

Nickel is a really common element that’s used all over. Its most common application is in making stainless steel, where it boosts the metal’s strength and corrosion resistance. Almost 70% of the world’s nickel is used to make stainless steel.

Interestingly, nickel only makes up 25% of the composition of the five-cent American coin. Nickel is also a common metal used for plating and alloying. It can be used to coat lab and chemistry equipment, as well as anything that needs to have a smooth, polished surface.

Nickel gets its name from medieval-era German folklore. Nickel ore looks a lot like copper ore, but when the old miners couldn’t get copper from it, they blamed a mischievous sprite named Nickel.

#15. COBALT.

This is a metal that has been used for a long time to make blue pigment in paints and dyes. Today, it’s primarily used in making wear-resistant, high-strength steel alloys.

Cobalt is very rarely mined by itself, it’s actually a by-product of the production of copper and nickel.

#16. TIN.

Tin is really soft and malleable. It’s used as an alloying element to make things like bronze (1/8th tin and 7/8ths copper). It’s also the primary ingredient in pewter (85-99%).

When you bend a bar of tin, you can hear something called a “tin cry”. This is a twanging sound of the crystal structure reorganizing itself (called twinning).

#17. LEAD.

Lead is really soft and malleable, and it’s also very dense and heavy. It’s got a really low melting point, too. Lead is a highly machinable, corrosion-resistant metal. Piping and paint represent some use-cases.

Lead was used as an anti-knocking agent in gasoline. Later, it was discovered that the byproduct of this lead was responsible for serious health complications.

Lead is still common in ammunition, car batteries, radiation protection, lifting weights, cable sheathing, etc.

In the 1800s it was discovered that lead is actually pretty toxic stuff. That’s why it’s not so common in modern times, although it wasn’t all that long ago that it was still found in things like paints and bullets.

Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause brain damage and behavioral problems, among other things.

That said, it still does have modern uses. For example, it’s great for radiation shielding. It’s also occasionally added to copper alloys to make them easier to cut. The copper-lead mix is often used to improve the performance of bearings.

#18. SILICON.

Technically speaking, silicon is a metalloid. This means that it has both metallic and non-metallic qualities. For example, it looks like metal.

It’s solid, shiny, bendable, and has a high melting point. However, it does a terrible job of conducting electricity. This is partly why it’s not considered a full metal.

Even still, it’s a common element to find in metals. Using it for alloying can change the metal’s properties quite a bit. For example, adding silicon to aluminum makes it easier to weld.

#19. CHROMIUM.

Chromium is a physically hard element after carbon and maybe a diamond. It is usually used as an alloy to improve the strength of other metals.

The metal has a high melting point which is approximately 2000 degrees Celcius. In terms of appearance, chromium has a unique reflection and can be used to improve the surface finishing of other metals.

#20. LITHIUM.

Lithium is categorized as a soft metal or a metal alkali group. It has a silvery-white luster that makes it look attractive. Lithium is used for improving the strength of glasses and ceramics.

#21. GOLD.

Gold is a precious metal that has been used for centuries to make jewelry, coins and other objects. It is rare, soft, malleable and does not corrode in the air.

Gold is a good conductor of electricity and heat. Gold is solid at room temperature, dense, soft, bright, corrosion resistant, and the most malleable metal.

#22. SILVER.

Silver is a precious metal that is similar to gold in many ways. It is rare, soft, malleable and does not corrode in the air. Silver is a good conductor of electricity and heat. However, it is not as good a conductor as gold.

Classification Of Metals

Metals can be categorized according to their physical or chemical properties. Categories described in the subsections below include:

  • Ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
  • Brittle metals.
  • Refractory metals.
  • White metals.
  • Heavy and light metals.
  • Base, noble, and precious metals.
  • Valve metals.

1. Ferrous And Non-Ferrous Metals.

Ferrous metals contain iron and non-ferrous metals do not. The more in-depth answer is that ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals each have their distinctive properties. These properties determine the applications they are most suited for.

Ferrous Metals

Pure Iron is of little use as an engineering material because it is too soft and ductile. When iron cools and changes from a liquid to a solid, most of the atoms in the metal pack, are tightly together in orderly layers.

Some, however. become misaligned, creating areas of weakness called dislocations. When a piece of iron is put under stress, layers of atoms in these areas slip over one another and the metal deforms. This begins to explain the ductility of soft iron.

By adding carbon to the iron, however, we can produce a range of alloys with quite different properties. We call these carbon steels. An alloy is a mixture of two or more chemical elements and the primary element is a metal.

Some common ferrous metals include alloy steel, carbon steel, cast iron, and wrought iron. These metals are prized for their tensile strength and durability. Ferrous metals are also used in shipping containers, industrial piping, automobiles, railroad tracks, and many commercial and domestic tools.

Ferrous metals have a high carbon content which generally makes them vulnerable to rust when exposed to moisture. There are two exceptions to this rule: wrought iron resists rust due to its purity and stainless steel is protected from rust by the presence of chromium.

Most ferrous metals are magnetic which makes them very useful for motor and electrical applications. The use of ferrous metals in your refrigerator door allows you to pin your shopping list on it with a magnet.

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Non-Ferrous Metals

Non-ferrous metals include aluminumcopperleadzinc, and tin, as well as precious metals like gold and silver. Their main advantage over ferrous materials is their malleability. They also have no iron content, giving them a higher resistance to rust and corrosion, and making them ideal for gutters, liquid pipes, roofing, and outdoor signs.

Lastly, they are non-magnetic, which is important for many electronic and wiring applications.

2. Brittle Metals

While nearly all metals are malleable or ductile, a few—beryllium, chromium, manganese, gallium, and bismuth—are brittle. Arsenic and antimony, if admitted as metals, are brittle. Low values of the ratio of bulk elastic modulus to shear modulus (Pugh’s criterion) are indicative of intrinsic brittleness.

3. Refractory Metal

In materials science, metallurgy, and engineering, a refractory metal is a metal that is extraordinarily resistant to heat and wear. Which metals belong to this category varies; the most common definition includes niobium, molybdenum, tantalum, tungsten, and rhenium. They all have melting points above 2000 °C and high hardness at room temperature.

4. White Metal

White metal is any range of white-colored metals (or their alloys) with relatively low melting points. Such metals include zinc, cadmium, tin, antimony (here counted as a metal), lead, and bismuth, some of which are quite toxic.

In Britain, the fine art trade uses the term “white metal” in auction catalogs to describe foreign silver items which do not carry British Assay Office marks, but which are nonetheless understood to be silver and are priced accordingly.

5. Heavy and Light Metals

Heavy metal is any relatively dense metal or metalloid. More specific definitions have been proposed, but none have obtained widespread acceptance. Some heavy metals have niche uses, or are notably toxic; some are essential in trace amounts. All other metals are light metals.

6. Base, Noble, And Precious Metals

In chemistry, the base metal is used informally to refer to a metal that is easily oxidized or corroded, such as reacting easily with dilute hydrochloric acid (HCl) to form a metal chloride and hydrogen. Examples include iron, nickel, lead, and zinc. Copper is considered a base metal as it is oxidized relatively easily, although it does not react with HCl.

Rhodium, a noble metal, shown here as 1 g of powder, a 1 g pressed cylinder, and a 1 g pellet

The term noble metal is commonly used in opposition to base metal. Noble metals are resistant to corrosion or oxidation, unlike most base metals. They tend to be precious metals, often due to perceived rarity. Examples include gold, platinum, silver, rhodium, iridium, and palladium.

In alchemy and numismatics, the term base metal is contrasted with precious metals, that is, those of high economic value. A longtime goal of the alchemists was the transmutation of base metals into precious metals including such coinage metals as silver and gold.

Chemically, precious metals (like noble metals) are less reactive than most elements and have high luster and high electrical conductivity. The best-known precious metals are gold and silver.

While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in art, jewelry, and coinage. Other precious metals include the platinum group metals: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum, of which platinum is the most widely traded.

7. Valve Metals

In electrochemistry, a valve metal is a metal that passes current in only one direction.

List of All Elements Considered to Be Metals

This is a list of metals in order of increasing atomic number.

S.NoAtomic NumberSymbolMetal Elements
13LiLithium
24BeBeryllium
311NaSodium
412MgMagnesium
513AlAluminum
619KPotassium
720CaCalcium
821ScScandium
922TiTitanium
1023VVanadium
1124CrChromium
1225MnManganese
1326FeIron
1427CoCobalt
1528NiNickel
1629CuCopper
1730ZnZinc
1831GaGallium
1937RbRubidium
2038SrStrontium
2139YYttrium
2240ZrZirconium
2341NbNiobium
2442MoMolybdenum
2543TcTechnetium
2644RuRuthenium
2745RhRhodium
2846PdPalladium
2947AgSilver
3048CdCadmium
3149InIndium
3250SnTin
3355CsCesium
3456BaBarium
3557LaLanthanum
3658CeCerium
3759PrPraseodymium
3860NdNeodymium
3961PmPromethium
4062SmSamarium
4163EuEuropium
4264GdGadolinium
4365TbTerbium
4466DyDysprosium
4567HoHolmium
4668ErErbium
4769TmThulium
4870YbYtterbium
4971LuLutetium
5072HfHafnium
5173TaTantalum
5274WTungsten
5375ReRhenium
5476OsOsmium
5577IrIridium
5678PtPlatinum
5779AuGold
5880HgMercury
5981TlThallium
6082PbLead
6183BiBismuth
6284PoPolonium
6387FrFrancium
6488RaRadium
6589AcActinium
6690ThThorium
6791PaProtactinium
6892UUranium
6993NpNeptunium
7094PuPlutonium
7195AmAmericium
7296CmCurium
7397BkBerkelium
7498CfCalifornium
7599EsEinsteinium
76100FmFermium
77101MdMendelevium
78102NoNobelium
79103LrLawrencium
80104RfRutherfordium
81105DbDubnium
82106SgSeaborgium
83107BhBohrium
84108HsHassium
85109MtMeitnerium
86110DsDarmstadtium
87111RgRoentgenium
88112CnCopernicium
89113NhNihonium
90114FlFlerovium
91115McMoscovium
92116LvLivermorium

FAQs.

What is Metal?

A metal is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts electricity and heat relatively well. Metals are typically malleable or ductile. Metal may be a chemical element such as iron; an alloy such as stainless steel; or a molecular compound such as polymeric sulfur nitride.

What are the Types of Metal?

Metals can be divided into two main groups: ferrous metals are those which contain iron and non-ferrous metals are those which contain no iron.
1. Iron. Iron comprises almost 5% of the Earth.
2. Steel. Although pure iron is stronger than most metals, it is prone to corrosion.
3. Copper.
4. Bronze.
5. Brass.
6. Aluminium.
7. Titanium.
8. Lead.

What are the 10 examples of metals?

Examples of metals are aluminum, copper, iron, tin, gold, lead, silver, titanium, uranium, and zinc. Well-known alloys include bronze and steel. The study of metals is called metallurgy

What are the properties of metals?

Properties of Metals:
1. Metals can be hammered into thin sheets. It means they possess the property of malleability.
2. Metals are ductile.
3. Metals are good conductor of heat and electricity.
4. Metals are lustrous which means they have a shiny appearance.
5. Metals have high tensile strength.
6. Metals are sonorous.
7. Metals are hard.

How many types of metals exist?

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, there are 94 metals on the periodic table, and each can be classified differently. However, the most common classification is by iron content.