Safely Store Your Seed Phrase

So that’s it. You are your own bank: you created an account using a software wallet, or even better you got yourself a hardware wallet.

The app asks you to “store your seed somewhere safe” and recommend “never to store it on a digital device”. Many questions popup in your head: “where?”, “how?”… but then you think “F*** it, I’ll just write it on that stupid piece of paper and worry about it later”.

I wish someone had guided you dear newcomer! Here are a few tips I wish I had known when I started my journey.

The seed is also known as ’24 words’, ‘recovery phrase’, ‘backup phrase’, ‘mnemonic code’

Paper Inside Plastic = Waterproof Paper

What was a temporary solution often becomes permanent. How about protecting that precious paper from damp and water by putting it into an inexpensive zipper poly bag? 😱

Something like that https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085TL858G/.

Kudos to Dan for the tip!

Some people also like fireproof documents holders (or boxes).

Fun Stuff: Invisible UV Pen

The ink is invisible unless you light it with a UV light. See an example product on https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CPKYJNC. This can be convenient if you store your seed on paper somewhere mildly safe.

Time passes, you have much more funds kept safe by your wallet but your still store your seed on a piece of paper in your cupboard at home. What to do?

First, you must figure out a better location(s) to store your seed. Maybe split it in several pieces? What if it was written on something so durable you could even bury one part in your parents’ garden? This leads to the next point…

You must write it on a better medium: something more durable/hard-to-destroy (water resistant, fire resistant…), a common solution is to engrave the seed on metal plates.

Metal Plates

Ready Made Metal Plates

Titanium plate: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077CYKHZ6/
Stainless steel plate: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094JSRP12/
Copper plate: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CLMK3WJ/

More options: coinkite’s seed plate ($49), Keystone Tablet Punch ($24), Hodlinox (€13). The famous Jameson Lopp even put an epic list of metal storage options.

Titanium is known to be stronger than stainless steel and copper.
Pick it thick enough so that it is very hard to bend, at least 3mm.

DIY Metal Plates

In short: plates that were not specifically made for writing your seed, but can be used for that.
In many countries, the “ready made metal plates to write your seed” can be hard to find and/or expensive. Save yourself time and cash: use something else.
Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D7VV7DK/, or on the Spanish Amazon https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B08BZGP529/

Engraving Tools for Metal Plates

Rotary Tool: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000302YN/
Stamps: I do not like stamps as when softer than the plate, they’ll easily get damaged (flattened) and become unusable. Additionally in some countries it can be difficult to have access to the required stamps whereas rotary tools are easier to find.

Once you get your engraver, you can engrave just about anything!

Where To Store Your Seed Phrase?

Storage location is actually a harder question than storage medium in my opinion. A few common solutions I came across:

  1. Split your seed in several parts and put each part in a different location
  2. Split your seed in several parts, put all parts in a different location except one that you learn by heart (yeah, if you forget it, you’re screwed!)

Regarding locations, sky is the limit, the more creative the better.

Some people also use bank safe as a storage location. Quite ironic, but hey, why not.

Naturally, you may want to do several copies of your seed. For instance, you could have one copy stored near where you live while another one is kept much further (i.e. close to where a good friend or family member lives).

As you may have noticed, things can get quite tricky: several copies of the seed, each copy possibly split into several parts and each part in a different location. It might be time to draw a treasure map!

Closing thoughts

Do you really think we can get 8 Billion people to use this system? In my experience after onboarding many friends to web3, it’s not realistic. Self-custodial wallets are definitely a radical tool that requires a lot of efforts and skills to stay safe. Alternatives have a bright future ahead.

Back-of-the-envelope calculation…

Only 5 million Ledger wallets have ever been sold and some people have multiple devices. Assuming that we have 4 million Ledger wallet owners, that’s only 0.05% of the planet population owning a Ledger.

Ledger is the by far the leading firm for hardware wallets, let’s assume they have 50% of the market share. That’d mean 0.1% of the population own a hardware wallet.

Assuming that only 10% of these owners store their seed safely (using similar methods to described in the above article), that’s 0.01% of the planet population.

Right, “we’re still early”.

If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to say thank you by following me on twitter.

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