To Mud You Shall Return

Contemplate a doomsday situation. You spend the previous couple years diligently greenback value averaging and withdrawing to your pockets. You’ve gotten a ton of small UTXO1‘s and bitcoin transaction charges rise a lot that your bitcoin turns into mud2. You’re now unable to spend your bitcoin. For some bitcoin customers, this isn’t a doomsday situation, this can be a actuality that they skilled over the previous 6 months.

Throughout 2023 we noticed very large fluctuations in bitcoin transaction charges as Ordinals3 introduced a flood of recent bitcoin customers and with that vital enhance in blockspace demand. Regardless of the optimistic press from the Bitcoin Spot ETF approval, customers have confronted critical challenges from excessive transaction charges, particularly for customers who’ve small UTXO’s. In some circumstances, UTXO’s had been unspendable, often known as was mud. This transaction payment ache led many individuals to ask the query, how can I do know if my UTXO’s are in danger? For this text, we are going to discover the purpose at which mud is created and attempt to assist lay out a minimal plan to mitigate this threat.

Bitcoin Median Transaction Charges In sat/vB Previous 6 Months

Supply: Dune as of January 12, 2024

Over the previous 6 months we’ve seen wild swings in median bitcoin transaction charges. We noticed mempools clear with 0 sat/vB and soar greater than 350 sat/vB. Whereas which may not imply a lot to you at face worth, it may imply large challenges for customers who’re sending a number of small worth SegWit UTXO’s in single transactions. In reality, some customers noticed their UTXO’s flip into mud. This clearly triggered panic, and for some this triggered an costly lesson in UTXO administration. This isn’t an article that explains UTXO administration technique, this text makes an attempt to inform you that you simply completely need large UTXO’s. If bitcoin does what we expect it’s going to do, then a number of UTXO transactions as small as 0.001 BTC might be unspendable below excessive payment environments, and you’ll kiss your mud goodbye.

Earlier than we soar into the information, we have to outline what we wish to have a look at. For us we are attempting to know if a UTXO is spendable or it’s mud (non spendable). For this we are going to want the next:

  • Sum of UTXO’s being despatched
  • Whole Weight Items4
  • Transaction payment sats/vB

With this data we will make a method that reveals how a lot worth is transferred in a bitcoin transaction after you take away the transaction charges.

Transferred Worth = BTC Despatched – ( ( ( Whole Weight Items / 4 ) * Transaction Charge in sats/vB ) * 0.00000001 )

If the transferred worth is a adverse quantity, this implies you have got mud, the UTXO sum prices extra to ship than it’s price. As a result of calculating bitcoin transaction weight items is a bit complicated, we are going to use a sensible situation to be used in constructing our desk, assumptions, and proposals.

For this instance we’re utilizing5 fundamental SegWit (P2WPKH) monetary transactions with the next weight items:

  • Single-input, single output, single signature, single pubkey, SegWit transaction (P2WPKH script)complete weight items could be roughly 440 weight items.
  • 5 inputs, single output, single signature, single pubkey SegWit transaction (P2WPKH script) complete weight items could be roughly 1,528 weight items.

Utilizing our method above and the SegWit transaction with (5) inputs weighing 1,528 weight items, we constructed the next mud desk.

Mud Desk

Mud Desk calculated at 1,528 weight items per the5 SegWit inputs instance above.

The Mud Desk reveals some telling data. Mud is actual, and the edge is decrease than I imagined. As transaction charges proceed to rise, bigger valued UTXO’s turn out to be extra in danger. Throughout the peak transaction payment occasions over the previous month, our instance transaction could be mud even for .001 BTC. That’s rather less than $50 at present market circumstances. This feels unimaginable. 100,000 sats abruptly was mud. Gone. Unusable. That is terrifying.

Whereas this instance situation doesn’t have an effect on all customers, the lesson could be very clear, make large UTXO’s! For long run storage you should not maintain UTXO’s smaller than 0.01 BTC. We noticed 300+ sat/vB charges final 12 months and that may more and more turn out to be the norm. In that payment market, multi UTXO transactions smaller than .001 are mud. Don’t be that man.

Mud could also be an afterthought for you at present, we’re blessed with returns to sub 50 sat/vB charges, however mud might turn out to be a expensive drawback for you sooner or later if not managed at present. By understanding the connection between UTXO weight items and transaction charges, we achieve beneficial insights into the decrease certain sizes for UTXOs.

Mud Extremes

Modeling out the mud threshold for UTXOs is an attention-grabbing experiment as a result of it reveals you ways loopy issues must get and at what level BTC turns into mud. For the desk under, we’re utilizing the identical knowledge as outlined above, that may be a 5 enter SegWit transaction with 1,528 weight items.

This desk illustrates the payment fee at which a BTC quantity being despatched in a 1,528 weight unit transaction will flip into mud.

Signing A UTXO

One other key discovering in all this analysis is the price of signing a single customary (P2PKH) UTXO. That is an excessive on the small aspect as a result of it is without doubt one of the smallest transactions you may make. For this instance we wish to use the usual script (non-segwit) as a result of it’s the heaviest of the script varieties. Listed here are the specifics:

  • Customary (P2PKH) Script Sort
  • 1 enter
  • 1 Pubkey
  • 0 Outputs
  • 632 weight items

Signing Economics

Economics of signing a single customary UTXO with one signature, one pubkey, and 0 outputs weighing 632 weight items.

With this data you’ll be able to perceive the minimal value of constructing Bitcoin transactions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Mud threshold is decrease than you suppose, particularly in excessive transaction payment markets
  2. When withdrawing BTC from exchanges think about ready till your stability is ≥ 0.01 earlier than sending to your storage.
  3. When you’ve got many small(< 0.001 BTC) UTXO, you should consolidate them into bigger UTXOs whereas charges are low.

You don’t have a crystal ball, and there are solely so many issues in your management. BTC value, blockspace demand, hashprice, hashrate, and bitcoin basically are out of your management. You’ve gotten management over your keys, and the very best factor you are able to do is be ready for the inevitable excessive payment market. It can occur or Bitcoin will fail, I don’t make the principles. Don’t let your valuable bitcoin flip into mud. Bear in mind this, in case you do nothing then to mud you shall return.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you come back to the bottom, for out of it you had been taken; for you might be mud and to mud you shall return.

-Genesis 3:19


  1. UTXO (Unspent Transaction Output): [n.]
    A element of a Bitcoin transaction that represents an quantity of digital forex not but spent and out there for future transactions.
    The output of a blockchain transaction that can be utilized as an enter in a brand new transaction, signifying the quantity of cryptocurrency remaining after the transaction is executed. ↩︎
  2. Within the Bitcoin protocol, mud refers to small quantities of forex which are decrease than the payment required to spend them in a transaction. Though “economically irrational”, mud is often used for reaching unconventional unwanted side effects, somewhat than exchanging worth. ↩︎
  3. Ordinals Inscriptions as a phenomenon at the moment are a bit of over a 12 months previous and have triggered large waves in Bitcoin. They’re melting some peoples brains but will eventually be priced out. ↩︎
  4. Weight Items (n.) [Bitcoin]
    A unit of measurement used within the Bitcoin community, particularly launched with the Segregated Witness (SegWit) protocol, to calculate the dimensions of transactions and blocks.
    A composite measure that considers each the non-witness knowledge (like transaction inputs and outputs) and the witness knowledge (akin to signatures) of a transaction. On this system, non-witness knowledge is weighted extra closely than witness knowledge.
    The usual by which the block measurement restrict is enforced within the SegWit protocol, with a most cap of 4,000,000 weight items per block, permitting for an environment friendly and versatile allocation of block area. ↩︎
  5. Utilizing Lopp’s open supply transaction calculator. LINK ↩︎

Leave a Comment