My Bitcoin transaction seems stuck

  • Updated

As discussed in this article, it can take time for Bitcoin transactions to confirm, depending on transaction fees, network congestion and hashrates. 

If the transaction fee you set was too small, miners might be filling their blocks with other transactions that get them higher fees, and it may be a while before your transaction confirms if volume doesn't decrease. Note that network congestion varies over time, so low transaction fees might be enough to get your inscription quickly confirmed at some times and not at others.

Transaction stuck in the mempool

The mempool is a collection of pending transactions that haven't been confirmed in a block yet. Transactions with a fee that is too low might be rejected right away, but if they aren't, they could remain pending for a while, and you'll feel like they are "stuck". 

Transaction fees on the Bitcoin blockchain don't depend on the amount of funds being transferred, but on the amount of data that needs to be included in a block. If your ordinal inscription contains a lot of data and your fees are set too low to go to the top of the mempool list of transactions, you'll need to be patient.

Each mempool has a limited amount of space. When it reaches full capacity, nodes will typically drop the lowest fee transactions in order to prioritize higher fee transactions. Your transaction will either confirm eventually, or it will be "forgotten" by nodes after a certain period of time. Don't worry, your funds won't be lost and will become accessible to you again. 

What happens if my transaction is forgetten?

Let's take a look at this graph for an example. On the left side, the mempool is clearing out regularly and low transaction fees are sufficient if you're willing to wait a little for confirmations. On the right side of the graph, however, the transaction won't be included in the mempool if the fee is below the 5-6 sat/vByte threshold. 

Node restarts and mempool expiry times can lead to your transaction. It can take a few days for this to happen and for you to regain access to your funds. Note that it can also take much longer, depending on congestion, volume and other variables.

Incorrect transaction details, too many rejections of your transaction (if the fee is too low), issues with the receiver's wallet and other scenarios can also lead to your transaction being stuck and eventually failed.

Waiting for your transaction to process can be a frustrating experience, but hang tight!

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