Whenever setting up a new wallet, you will be presented with a 12 or 24 word seed phrase which needs to be written down and stored away. More often than not, the seed is simply written down on a piece of paper and stored away safely (at least I hope you do that). However, while storing it on paper is the most common form, it certainly isn’t the safest. Paper can be easily damaged by the elements, and can suffer from fire or water damage.
I had the unfortunate incident of experiencing a house fire, and had to rush to save my seed phrases stored on paper. This is where premium seed phrase backup solutions come in. They offer protection against the elements or any unfortunate incident. Cryptotag happens to have such an offering, and were kind enough to send us a Cryptotag Zeus for review.
What Do You Get in the Box?
The Cryptotag Zeus comes in a tightly packed rectangular box. Upon opening it, you will be presented with two titanium plates, the center punch in which to enter your seed, a user guide with a BIP 39 word list, two pieces of paper to write down your seed, some matches, and also earplugs.
Upon opening the box, I was trying to figure out the use of the matches and earplugs, so I reached out to Indy from Cryptotag. According to him, the matches are to be used to burn the conversion sheets containing the seed once it has been punched in on the titanium plates. Meanwhile, the center punch can get quite loud, so the earplugs can come in handy. While these two items didn’t have to be included, it is a nice touch from the Cryptotag team to have done so.
Design and Build Quality
The aerospace grade titanium plates are very minimalist in design. The point of the plates is to hold and protect your seed, so there isn’t the need to have fancy designs. On the front of each plate, the Cryptotag logo of a bull’s head is printed on.
To keep the two plates together, clamps are provided. These seem to be made out of titanium as well, and are very durable to any sort of bending. Now, on the flipside of plates, the most important component can be found - the seed storage. The numbers representing the seed phrase are quite small, but at the same time they’re rather easy to read. So while the Cryptotag itself has a small footprint, the numbers are still very legible.
When it comes to the numbers on the back, they are quite resistant to scratches from most items. However, if scratched with the included center punch, the numbers do start to fade away slightly. It is unlikely though that the plates will be subjected to such levels of abuse during regular usage.
How it Actually Works
When I first received the Cryptotag, I wondered how it was able to correlate every word out there with certain numbers, since there are an estimated 171,476 words in the Oxford English dictionary. That’s when I discovered the BIP39 industry standard.
Cryptotag utilizes the BIP39 industry standard when it comes to correlating the numbers to certain words. This standard is an alphabetical word list of 2,048 words. Each word in the list has a correlating number, and follows alphabetical order. For example, the first word is ‘Abandon’ with the number ‘0001’. Meanwhile, the last number is ‘Zoo’ with the number 2,048. Each of these words with their corresponding number is included in the setup guide. If you happen to lose the guide, worry not as it can be found online as well.
The BIP39 standard has been adopted by the majority of wallets out there, as well as many protocols. This includes blockchains such as Ethereum, Solana, Bitcoin, and many others. Therefore, if you have a seed phrase you would like to store in your Cryptotag, it is more than likely that the words correspond to numbers in the BIP39 list.
Using the Cryptotag
To get started with the Cryptotag, you will of course need to have a crypto wallet. When creating a wallet, you will be presented with a 24 word seed phrase. Write the seed phrase onto the conversion sheet provided by Cryptotag. For each word in the phrase, look for the corresponding 4 digit code in the setup guide provided, and write it down on the sheet as well. Make sure to triple check the codes as there's no turning back after you've punched it in!
Once that's done, you can start punching holes onto the titanium plates. Each code contains four numbers, so be sure to punch every number in, even any zeros at the start. For example, the corresponding number for ‘Abandon’ is ‘0001’. Do punch in the three zeros onto the plate, and not just the number ‘1’. This is to avoid any confusion when viewing the plate in the future. The end result is you should have two titanium plate backs which look like old fashioned punch cards.
When using the center punch, hold it at a 90° angle and press down hard. Once you hear a loud ‘bang’, the center punch can be removed. We suggest you wear the included earbuds when doing so as the noise it makes is pretty loud. After you have completed all the words, discard the sheet with the seed phrase by burning it with the included matches.
The whole process of punching in the seed phrase on to the plates took about 15 minutes to complete.
Putting it to the Test
Now that a seed phrase has been etched into the plates, does the Cryptotag actually safeguard it from the elements? According to Cryptotag, the titanium plates are rated to stand temperatures up to 1,667 °C (3,032 °F). While I don’t own an industrial blow torch, I did test it out under a miniature blow torch. After heating a certain part of the plate for a minute or so, the plate was left unscathed. All the torch caused was some slight discolouration, with no visible signs of warping.
When using brute force to bend the plate with a pair of pliers, the plates held their form. Even running over it with a car barely left a mark. Only a couple of scuffs were visible after it was subjected to such torture.
In the video below, we put the Cryptotag through some ardous torture. As can be seen by the end of it, both plates were left intact.
- Very durable
- Small footprint makes it easy to store
- No moving parts such as tiles, meaning words don’t get jumbled up
- Brute force required to punch holes
- Can only be used once
- On the expensive side
The Cryptotag is an interesting way to store seed phrases. While it can only be used once, and mistakes can’t be corrected, it removes the likelihood of jumbling up the seed. This is definitely a premium option for crypto owners out there, and the process of setting it up is simple and can be quite enjoyable. If you would like to purchase a Cryptotag Zeus for yourself, you may do so here*.
*CoinGecko receives a small part of the profit from any sales done through the affiliate link.
Shaun Paul Lee
Shaun is a Research Associate at CoinGecko with a fondness for memes and farming on the blockchain. Follow the author on Twitter @ShaunPaulLee