I created a brain wallet with a non standard phrase.

So I have that, the private and public keys.

Now this wallet app wants a 12 word recovery phrase to set up the wallet.

How can I convert what I have into a 12-word phrase that it can use?

4 Answers 4


A short working example is worth a 1000 words.

% echo -n "This is a VERY pooor low entropy brain wallet" | bx base16-encode | bx sha256 | cut -c 1-32 | bx mnemonic-new

health boil host ostrich fire spike body solar collect harvest catalog crystal

Use something like like ent to measure the entropy of you brainwallet text to ensure the text entropy is sufficient, and also apply some common sense to be certain search engines have not indexed your chosen brainwallet text seed. For example "Big Boys Race Our Young Girls But Violet Generally Wins" might satisfy a ent entropy test, but will fail a Google/Bing Test. Some other electrician or electrical engineer is likely to pick the same brainwallet seed phrase. Seed phrase uniqueness is an absolute must...

  • pretty amazing command there +1
    – toddmo
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 15:15
  • Taking advantage of BIP 39 passphrase (adding salt) with sufficient complexity can make the approach above even more secure.
    – skaht
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 19:48
  • Where to get bx from?
    – pbies
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 18:07

Firstly, it is highly recommended not to use a brainwallet, your coins will be stolen.

But in general, if you have a private key, there is no way to obtain the 12 word recovery phrase from it. That is because the 12 word phrase is used as a seed to generate a hierarchical deterministic master extended private key, as described in BIP 39 and BIP 32 and this process is not reversible. Also, your private key is not an extended private key which is needed for an HD wallet, so the best you can do is simply import that single address manually. Some wallets do not support importing of individual addresses for safety, because they wouldn't be covered by the 12 word mnemonic backup. So I would suggest just generating a new wallet and everything and forgetting about your brain wallet.

  • 1
    At the time of the BTC fork, my funds were in a single key wallet. So this private key is all I have to access my BCH with. Are there any BCH wallets that will import based on just the private key?
    – toddmo
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 1:23

Echoing some of the previous comments, make absolutely certain that your brainwallet password/phrase is as strong as you can construct. It should be 30 characters or longer, with no, or very few, complete words; it should incorporate multiple sources in order to compound its strength; it should incorporate at least some personal information only you know.

All that being said, let's do this thing:

  1. Create a hash of your password/passphrase, output in hexadecimal notation. You can do this using any number of tools, both online and offline.

  2. Go to the BIP39 generator created by Ian Coleman. Select the radio button which reveals entropy details.

  3. Copy/paste your hexadecimal hash output into the entropy box.

  4. Select the dropdown menu item for Mnemonic length. 12 is the most common seed format.

  5. The generator will now output a 12-word BIP39 mnemonic, which can be used to seed a wallet.

  6. I strongly suggest that when you enter the mnemonic, you also select a password, which changes the seed master key without changing the mnemonic, allowing you to share the mnemonic without risking your funds. This password should also be insanely strong as well.

Once again, you had better be absolutely certain that your brainwallet password/passphrase is extremely strong, or it will get hijacked and you will lose your funds.

  • This doesn't mean your brainwallet can be imported in this fashion. You will have to import it manually. Once you have your wallet software set up, go to the import private key option and follow the instructions.
    – John C.
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 14:47
  • Human-chosen 30 characters as entropy is definitely not enough to produce a secure private key. Keys should be generated by a secure random process, and humans are pretty bad at choosing random numbers.
    – arubi
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 18:16
  • -- "Human-chosen 30 characters as entropy is definitely not enough to produce a secure private key." -- Read it again. I said "minimum 30 characters." My personal brainwallet is based upon a 65 character password. -- "humans are pretty bad at choosing random numbers" -- True. Humans are also pretty bad at remembering random numbers. Pick your poison. If you can generate a password with sufficient apparent entropy, but you can easily reconstruct it from information only you know, I would consider that superior to a true random number that you may have a hard time remembering.
    – John C.
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 11:59

The Coinomi Wallet app allows you to "sweep" a paper wallet. This command appears on the context menu after the default wallet is created.

The sweep command allows the user to scan the private key to import the wallet.

The user could then transfer to an HD account if they wanted.

Coinomi is a safe app to use to claim your Bitcoin Cash or other Bitcoin forks after the fork. It may take a while for the currency to show up in the wallet after the actual fork. I am not connected with Coinomi.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.