Science Question, Please Help?

If you find an element in nature in its pure elemental state, what can you infer about the element's chemical reactivity? How can you tell whether that element is a metal or a nonmetal?

My answer: I can infer that the element's chemical reactivity is low. If the element is a good conductor of electricity and heat, then it would be a metal. However, if the element is a poor conductor of electricity and heat, then it would be a nonmetal.

Is my explanation correct?


Sounds good to me. In particular, gold is found in the metallic state in nature. Sulfur is a nonmetal that is found in volcanic deposits. You are a bright student.


Your answer is essentially correct, but let me give you an instance where your inference would lead you to the wrong conclusion. Suppose you've found a piece of metal in its natural state (that is, one that was not processed by physical or chemical means). You take it to the lab and have it analyzed, finding that it is mostly iron, in the elemental state. From this you might conclude that iron is a non-reactive element, as it rarely occurs in an unoxidized state. However, your sample was an iron meteorite that struck the Earth a few days ago, and hadn't yet oxidized to Fe2O3 or one of the other iron oxides. So, there are instances where things are not as they seem to be at first glance.