Is Mercury a Metal or Nonmetal? (+ 3 Things to Know)

Mercury is a metal. It is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80, and is classified as a post-transition metal in the periodic table. However, unlike many other metals, it is liquid at room temperature and has a low melting point. 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 Mercury a Metal or Nonmetal?

  • Mercury is a metal despite being a liquid at room temperature and having a low melting point.
  • Properties of mercury that classify it as a metal include being shiny, a good conductor of heat and electricity and high density.
  • Mercury differs from other metals in that it is liquid at room temperature, has a low melting and boiling point, is highly reactive, and is toxic.

Why is mercury a metal?

Mercury is a metal because it has properties that are characteristic of metals. Metals are elements that are usually shiny, solid at room temperature (with the exception of mercury), good conductors of heat and electricity, and malleable (able to be hammered into thin sheets) and ductile (able to be drawn into wires). 2

Mercury, despite being liquid at room temperature, still has metallic properties such as being shiny, conducting electricity and heat, and having a high density. 3

It is classified as a metal because of its chemical and physical properties (except the physical state), which are similar to those of other metals like gold, silver, and copper.

In summary, mercury is a metal because it has the properties of a metal, such as being shiny, conducting heat and electricity, and having a high density, even though it is a liquid at room temperature.

Properties of mercury that classify it as a metal

Here are some properties of mercury that classify it as a metal:

  • Shiny: Mercury has a silvery-white appearance that gives it a shiny or reflective surface. This property is known as luster, and it is a common characteristic of metals.
  • Good conductor of heat and electricity: Mercury is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. This property allows it to efficiently transfer energy in the form of heat or electrical current. 4
  • High density: Mercury is a dense element, meaning that it has a relatively large mass for its volume. This property is due to the close packing of its atoms, which is a common feature of metals.
  • Ductile: Mercury is also ductile, which means that it can be drawn into thin wires without breaking. This property is due to the ability of its atoms to stretch and reorient themselves under tension. 5

Overall, these properties of mercury are similar to those of other metals and are a result of the way its atoms are arranged and bonded together.

How is mercury different from other metals?

Here are some ways in which mercury differs from other metals:

  • Liquid at room temperature: Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. Most other metals are solid, and only become liquid at high temperatures. 6
  • Low melting and boiling point: Compared to other metals, mercury has a relatively low melting and boiling point. This means that it can easily vaporize and become a gas at room temperature, which can make it dangerous to handle.
  • Highly reactive: Mercury is a reactive metal and can react with many other elements to form compounds. This reactivity can make it dangerous to handle and can also make it difficult to use in certain applications. 7
  • Toxicity: Mercury is a toxic element that can cause serious health problems if ingested or inhaled. This toxicity is due to the ability of mercury to bind to proteins in the body and interfere with their function. 8 9

Overall, these differences set mercury apart from other metals and make it unique in terms of its properties and applications.

Further reading

Is Lead a Metal or Nonmetal?
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?

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. Norrby, L. J. (1991, February). Why is mercury liquid? Or, why do relativistic effects not get into chemistry textbooks? Journal of Chemical Education, 68(2), 110.
  2. Properties of metals – Metallic structure and bonding – Eduqas – GCSE Chemistry (Single Science) Revision – Eduqas – BBC Bitesize. (n.d.). BBC Bitesize.
  3. Basic Information about Mercury | US EPA. (2015, August 20). US EPA.
  4. What is Mercury. (2021, February 12). Community Environmental Health.
  5. Mercury (element) – Wikipedia. (2015, February 18). Mercury (Element) – Wikipedia.
  6. Mit Engineering. (2012, November 6). Mit Engineering.
  7. Balabanov, N. B., & Peterson, K. A. (2003, August 22). Mercury and Reactive Halogens: The Thermochemistry of Hg + {Cl2, Br2, BrCl, ClO, and BrO}. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 107(38), 7465–7470.
  8. Mercury in the Environment. (n.d.). Mercury in the Environment.
  9. Climate Change Canada, E. A. (n.d.). Mercury: chemical properties – Mercury: Chemical Properties –

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