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What is a Bitcoin Brain Wallet and How to Create One

Warning: Brain wallets are considered to be significantly insecure and are can be relatively easily hacked.

A Bitcoin wallet is the combination of a public address and a private key. In the past we’ve talked about different kinds of Bitcoin wallets. Hot wallets which are connected to the Internet, mobile wallets which are installed on your mobile phone and cold storage wallets like paper wallets or TREZOR. Today I want to add a new type of wallet – Brain wallets.

The basic idea of a brain wallet is that your private key is memorized by heart and not written down anywhere. Using this method the only way someone can gain access to your Bitcoins is by forcing you personally to tell them your private key. This of course is a much more secure way to store Bitcoins but also not very user friendly.

Private keys are very long strings of numbers without any meaning –  so how can someone remember such a long mashup of letters ?

Fortunately you don’t need to remember random letters, you can just use what is known as a passphrase. A passphrase is a sentence (usually 8 words or more) that can then mathematically be changed into a private key.

The passphrase needs to be an entire original sentence that does not appear in any song or literature. Security is enhanced simply by including some sort of memorable personal information, which doesn’t necessarily even have to be secret (like an e-mail address, or phone number). A good brain wallet passphrase will have dozens of characters.

Here’s An example of a decent passphrase formula:

[your mother’s birthday multiplied by your favorite number] + [every other word of some obscure phrase that holds special meaning to you] + [your home phone number when you were a kid] +[the first 5 words of your best freshman year english paper, ASSUMING IT ISN’T SEARCHABLE ONLINE]

Extraneous characters such as commas and broken grammar can make the passphrase harder to figure out.

Once you have your passphrase memorized you can use programs like to create your private key and public address from it. When doing so make sure that your computer is not connected to the Internet and that you are using private browsing so that no one will be able to steal you passphrase.

In order to use your newly created brain wallet you will need to import your private key into your Bitcoin client.

This post was created with help from these source:

BitcoinTalk, CoinDesk, BitcoinWiki and BitcoinMagazine.

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13 comments on “What is a Bitcoin Brain Wallet and How to Create One”

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  1. Samantha Rotterns

    I was looking at and can’t understand what the Private Key (DER) does? What is this?

    1. The issue is that people are creating huge databases of brainwallets in order to steal the funds. You would not realize this happened until it is too late. If you follow the directions exactly you should be OK but if you do like most people do with password, use a very weak one, then there is a good chance the funds will be lost at some point. Defiantly not recommended for the average person.

  2. When you have to enter the passphrase to enter your wallet, do you need to type the words from it in the exact same order you initially wrote the? Or can you just remember all the words the passphrase was composed of and if you put them in, you can enter your account?

    I’m guessing you need that exact order but I was wondering if that was the case or not.

    1. You can mix the order of the original phrase words but to re-create the wallet later that order of words must match.

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