I'm installing bitcoin-core with snap on Ubuntu for a dry-run at generating a paper wallet.

Perhaps naively, I thought to "write down" something like:

nicholas@mordor:~/bitcoin$ ls
nicholas@mordor:~/bitcoin$ ssh-keygen -t ed25519 -C [email protected]
Generating public/private ed25519 key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/nicholas/.ssh/id_ed25519): ./bitcoin_wallet
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): 
Enter same passphrase again: 
Your identification has been saved in ./bitcoin_wallet
Your public key has been saved in ./bitcoin_wallet.pub
The key fingerprint is:
SHA256:MtZQUFLqDWU0fJbkFhner+ZRF1WZ1MacM0WOBbGPvCc [email protected]
The key's randomart image is:
+--[ED25519 256]--+
|      o*O.++  +B&|
|       *.+=o   @*|
|      +  o+ . oo+|
|     . = .   o o.|
|      = S     = o|
|     . o     o o |
|            + E .|
|           o . o |
|            .    |
nicholas@mordor:~/bitcoin$ ls
bitcoin_wallet  bitcoin_wallet.pub
nicholas@mordor:~/bitcoin$ cat bitcoin_wallet
nicholas@mordor:~/bitcoin$ cat bitcoin_wallet.pub 
ssh-ed25519 AAA..IuhfH4P2T [email protected]

where I need the public and private key. Obviously, very easy to make a mistake, but isn't that what's required??

I'm not understanding all this mention of writing down seed words or passphrases. Isn't the key pair required?

leaving aside QR codes or other automated tools for storing keys.

  • 2
    Bitcoin Core doesn't really support paper wallets. It's possible to kind of do it if you really know what you're doing, but it's not advisable. The supported mode of operation is backing up your wallet.dat file. Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


The design/structure of a paper wallet is not something is set in stone, but the main idea is writing public and private key pairs on a piece of paper.

The universal flow for generating an address is:

  1. A public key is derived from private key
  2. A bitcoin address is derived from public key

The common flow (Mnemonic) for generating an address is:

  1. Master private key is derived from mnemonic phrases
  2. A private key is derived from master private key
  3. A public key is derived from private key
  4. A bitcoin address is derived from public key

As you can see 3rd and 4th steps of Mnemonic key-generation flow are the same as universal key-generation flow. You can unlock your Bitcoin with plain private key without mnemonic phrases. Mnemonic phrases are just used to derive private key, so you can simply write down public key(65-byte or 33-byte) and private key(32-byte) onto a piece of paper regardless how you generated your key-pairs.

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