What Are Malleable Elements?

Malleable elements include 38 transition metals of the periodic table that can be hammered into various shapes or thin sheets. These metals often have a shiny luster and conduct both heat and electricity very well. Common elements of this type include copper, zinc, titanium, iron, nickel, silver, platinum, gold and manganese.

The ability to be malleable and conductive has to do with the single electron in the outer shell of these atoms. Malleability refers to the property that allows metals to be hammered into different shapes without destroying the chemical makeup of the metal. These elements are also ductile, meaning they can be made into wires. Blacksmiths, along with modern industrial factories, hammer iron, copper and titanium into various shapes for pots, bowls, swords, knives, automobile parts and tools. This reshaping is done at high temperatures.

Other characteristics of these metals include high densities, high melting points and shiny lusters. Copper, silver, gold, nickel and platinum are all common examples of transition metals that are shiny. Imagine shiny coins made of copper and nickel, and think of ornamental rings made of silver, gold and platinum.

The shape of transition-metal atoms allows electrons to be added or let go from the outer shell of electron clouds. This same property means some transition metals are magnetic when an electrical field passes through the element.