What is a Bitcoin BrainWallet?

You may be familiar with the most popular types of Bitcoin wallets. These include paper wallets, desktop wallets, and hardware wallets that can be carried on your person. There is another type of wallet, however, that isn’t as well known. The Bitcoin brainwallet is one that resides only in your memory. It basically allows you to store your Bitcoins in your mind. Sound bizarre? Read on to find out more about the ultimate form of secure Bitcoin storage.

Storage of Bitcoin in the Human Mind

This is the basic manner in which a Bitcoin brainwallet functions. Instead of keeping track of private keys on a piece of paper, your desktop, or a portable device, you memorize a seed phrase. The phrase is never written down in any form, and it only exists in your memory. This seed phrase is what allows you to access your Bitcoin.

There are software programs such as Armory and Electrum that will generate these seed phrases. What you will then be doing is recovering the wallet each time you need to access it by using the seed phrase. Here is how the process works:

  • The user begins by using a clean computer, one that is free of malware, to run Armory or a similar program
  • This generates a seed phrase
  • The user commits the seed phrase to memory
  • A Bitcoin wallet is then restored with the seed phrase when the user wants to spend Bitcoin

This may seem like a strange way to keep Bitcoin, but a brainwallet can actually serve a purpose. Imagine if you were working in an unstable country and were suddenly forced to leave with nothing. If you had a seed phrase memorized you could perhaps get to your wallet at some point and recover it. Maybe you own a large number of Bitcoins and are constantly worried about theft. Regardless of the reason, some people like the idea of a brainwallet.

What if My Memory Fails?

Memory failure is the greatest downfall of using a Bitcoin brainwallet. If you are no longer able to recall the seed phrase, your Bitcoins are gone forever. This means that one should be very confident in their powers of recall before they choose this method of storage.

There are some techniques which some individuals claim are useful in memorizing a seed phrase that may contain 15 or more words. The most successful technique seems to be something called mnemonic pegging. It is actually a very powerful technique that can be mastered by almost anyone. It all begins with creating a story that matches the words of the seed phrase. Let’s say that the seed phrase begins with the following:

beach spearmint polo crowbar foyer

To accomplish mnemonic pegging one would create a mental story that incorporates these words in their proper order. You would visualize the setting of a lovely beach. On that BEACH there is a beautiful woman that is chewing a piece of SPEARMINT gum. The woman decides to play a game of POLO with a CROWBAR, and she drives the ball through a FOYER.

The key to mnemonic pegging is to create vivid pictures and keep them in the proper sequence. You will only remember the story if it is a bit absurd. You will want to make the story either funny or scary or completely ridiculous.

Pegging has been used for centuries to great effect. It works, but as a person ages the memory still continues to decline. Soon it will be difficult to remember phrases no matter what method is used. This is one of the things that makes a Bitcoin brainwallet a temporary solution at best.

Secure Alternatives to a Bitcoin Brainwallet

If you really want to keep your Bitcoins safe there are some alternatives that might be a better choice than a brainwallet. One of the best ones is a hardware wallet like Nano or Trezor. These are portable devices that you can keep on your person. No one can access your cryptocurrency wallet unless they have the device and the seed to unlock it.

You could also opt for the old paper wallet. There are also wallets today for Android and iOS devices. The choices are vast, and many of these choices supply exceptional security. In almost every case, these alternatives are preferable to a brainwallet because of the unreliability of the human memory. Even an unfortunate accident could leave you without access to your wallet.    

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