Is Lead a Metal or Nonmetal? (+ 3 Fascinating Facts to Know)

Lead is a metal. It is a chemical element with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82, and is classified as a post-transition metal in the periodic table. Lead is a soft, dense, malleable, and ductile metal with a bluish-white color when freshly cut. 1

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Key Takeaways: Is Lead a Metal or Nonmetal?

  • Lead is a metal with properties that classify it as such, including being shiny, malleable, ductile, and a good conductor of heat and electricity.
  • Lead’s unique properties, such as softness, toxicity, low melting point, and corrosion resistance, distinguish it from other common metals.
  • Lead is a versatile material that is commonly used in electrical wiring, batteries, plumbing, and construction.

Why is lead a metal?

Lead is a metal because it has certain properties that are characteristic of metals. Metals are generally shiny, malleable (able to be hammered into thin sheets), ductile (able to be drawn into thin wires), and good conductors of heat and electricity. 2

Lead possesses all of these properties. It is a dense, soft, bluish-gray metal that is highly malleable and ductile. It can be easily shaped or formed into a variety of objects. 3 Lead is also an excellent conductor of electricity and is commonly used in electrical wiring.

Furthermore, lead is a chemical element that belongs to a group of elements called metals.

Therefore, lead meets all the criteria to be classified as a metal, making it an important material in many different industries.

Properties of lead that classify it as a metal

Lead has several properties that classify it as a metal:

  • Shiny: Lead has a bright, metallic luster, which is a common characteristic of metals. When polished, it can reflect light and produce a shiny surface.
  • Malleable: Lead is highly malleable, meaning it can be easily shaped or molded into different forms without cracking or breaking. 4 This property makes it useful in manufacturing products such as pipes, roofing, and bullets.
  • Ductile: Lead is also ductile, meaning it can be drawn into thin wires without breaking. This property makes it useful in the production of electrical wiring and cables.
  • Conductor of heat and electricity: Lead is a conductor of both heat and electricity, making it useful in a variety of applications, including electrical wiring, batteries, and radiation shielding. 5
  • Dense: Lead is a dense metal, which means it has a high mass per unit volume. This property makes it useful in applications where a heavy, stable material is needed, such as in the construction of weights and counterweights.

Overall, the combination of these properties makes lead a useful and versatile metal for a variety of industrial and commercial applications.

How is lead different from other metals?

Lead is different from other metals in several ways:

  • Softness: Lead is a relatively soft metal compared to other common metals, such as iron, copper, and aluminum. This softness makes it easy to shape and work with but also means that it can be easily scratched or dented.
  • Toxicity: Lead is highly toxic to humans and animals when ingested or inhaled. This toxicity makes it necessary to handle lead with care and to limit exposure to it in the workplace and in the environment. 6 7 8
  • Low melting point: Lead has a relatively low melting point compared to other metals, which makes it easy to melt and cast into different shapes. However, this low melting point also means that lead can be melted or damaged by high temperatures.
  • Corrosion resistance: Lead is highly resistant to corrosion and can withstand exposure to a variety of chemicals and environments. This resistance to corrosion makes it useful in applications such as plumbing and construction. 9 10

Overall, while lead shares many properties with other metals, such as being malleable and ductile, it also has unique characteristics that set it apart.

Its softness, toxicity, low melting point, and corrosion resistance make it a valuable material for certain applications but also require careful handling and management to prevent negative impacts on health and the environment.

Further reading

Is Bismuth a Metal, Nonmetal or Metalloid?
Is Radon a Metal or Nonmetal?
Is Chlorine Solid, Liquid or Gas?
Is Sulfur a Solid, Liquid or Gas?
Is Carbon Solid, Liquid or Gas? 

About author

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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  1. Biomonitoring Summary | CDC. (2017, April 7). Biomonitoring Summary | CDC.
  2. Properties of metals – Metallic structure and bonding – Eduqas – GCSE Chemistry (Single Science) Revision – Eduqas – BBC Bitesize. (n.d.). BBC Bitesize.
  3. Lead (Pb) Toxicty: What is Lead? | Environmental Medicine | ATSDR. (2019, July 2). Lead (Pb) Toxicty: What Is Lead? | Environmental Medicine | ATSDR.
  4. The Facts on Lead | Dartmouth Toxic Metals. (n.d.). The Facts on Lead | Dartmouth Toxic Metals.
  5. Lead (electronics) – Wikipedia. (2013, April 1). Lead (Electronics) – Wikipedia.
  6. Lead poisoning. (2022, August 31). Lead Poisoning.
  7. Learn about Lead | US EPA. (2013, February 12). US EPA.
  8. Wani, A. L., Ara, A., & Usmani, J. A. (n.d.). Lead toxicity: a review. Lead Toxicity: A Review.
  9. Tylecote, R. (1983, July). The behaviour of lead as a corrosion resistant medium undersea and in soils. Journal of Archaeological Science, 10(4), 397–409.
  10. APPENDIX G: THE ATMOSPHERIC CORROSION CHEMISTRY OF LEAD. (2016, July 1). Atmospheric Corrosion, 316–326.

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