According to About.com expert Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine, the simplest way to determine if an element is a metal is to see if it appears with the other metals on the periodic table. There are 117 non-theoretical elements on the periodic table, and all but 17 are either metals or metalloids. Scientists also use chemical experiments to determine if a sample of indeterminate nature contains metal ions.Continue Reading
The flame test is a simple laboratory procedure that reveals metal ions in a material sample solution. To perform this test, the researcher dips a long metal instrument into the solution and then places it in an open flame. The BBC explains that the resulting color of the flame provides valuable information about the presence and type of metals in the solution. For example, lithium ions turn the flame red, potassium ions produce a purple flame and barium ions produce a green flame.
According to Home Science Tools, another useful method of metal detection is to test the sample's ability to conduct heat and electricity. All non-metal materials are extremely poor conductors of both. Other physical properties common among metals include ductility and malleability. Transition metals such as gold and silver bend easily when struck with a hammer, but alkali metals such as sodium and potassium have the consistency of cream cheese.
Some metals are highly toxic. Always wear protective gloves when handling unidentified metal specimens.Learn more about Precious Metals & Gems
As a measurement of purity, 750 fine gold contains pure gold in 750 parts and other base metals in 250 parts. This measurement means that 750 fine gold is 75 percent gold. Although the purity of gold is measured by karats in the United States and the United Kingdom, there are many European countries using the decimal system to indicate the parts per thousandths of pure metal for silver, gold and platinum alloys.Full Answer >
Brass is an alloy that is a mixture of the metals zinc and copper. Using brass makes sense for many manufacturers since it is durable and easily transformed into objects.Full Answer >
All alkali metals and most alkaline earth metals react with cold water. The alkali metals are lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium and cesium. The alkaline earth metals that react with water are magnesium, calcium, strontium and barium. Beryllium is also an alkaline earth metal, but it does not react with water.Full Answer >
Palladium is less expensive because it is not as dense as other metals. Palladium is a platinum-group metal, and is similar to platinum in color and purity but is not as heavy. Palladium weighs approximately the same as 9-karat gold.Full Answer >