The Physical Properties of Elements

The Physical Properties of Elements

Physical Properties of Elements

General Aspects of Physical Properties

  • Physical properties of elements are aspects that can be measured or observed without changing the identity or the composition of the element.
  • These properties include aspects like colour, density, melting point, boiling point, hardness, conductivity, and malleability among others.
  • These properties are mostly used to classify or group elements and can also be used to predict how an element will react with others.

Melting and Boiling Points

  • Melting point is the temperature at which a substance changes from solid to liquid state. Boiling point is the temperature at which the liquid state of the substance changes to gaseous state.
  • For example, helium has the lowest boiling and melting points of the elements, while carbon has the highest.
  • Generally, non-metals have lower melting and boiling points than metals.


  • Density is the mass per unit volume of a substance. It can be measured in grams per cubic centimetre (g/cm^3) or kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m^3).
  • For instance, osmium and iridium are the densest elements, while helium and hydrogen are the least dense.


  • Hardness is the resistance of a material to scratching or indentation.
  • On the Mohs scale, diamond (a form of carbon) is the hardest elemental substance, while cesium and gallium are among the softest.


  • Conductivity relates to how well an element can transmit heat or electricity.
  • Generally, metals are good at conducting heat and electricity while non-metals are poor conductors.


  • Malleability is the ability of a substance to be deformed or moulded into a different shape without breaking, usually by hammering or pressure.
  • Most metals are highly malleable. Gold, for instance, can be hammered into extremely thin sheets called gold leaf.

Remember, understanding the physical properties of elements and how they vary across the periodic table is a vital element of any study of chemistry.