How to Modify or Cancel a Pending Ethereum Transaction

by Aug 10, 2023DEX/CEX0 comments

Ethereum is a popular blockchain platform that supports smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps). Users can send and receive ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of Ethereum, as well as other tokens that follow the ERC-20 standard. However, sometimes users may encounter a problem when their transactions get stuck or take too long to confirm. This can happen due to various reasons, such as network congestion, low gas fees, or incorrect nonce values. In this article, we will explain what causes these issues and How to Modify or Cancel a Pending Ethereum Transaction.

What is an Ethereum Transaction and How Does it Work?

An Ethereum transaction is a cryptographically signed instruction from an account to another account or to a smart contract. A transaction can be used to transfer ETH or tokens, execute a function in a smart contract, or deploy a new smart contract. A transaction has several fields, such as:

  • Sender: The address of the account that initiates the transaction.
  • Recipient: The address of the account or the smart contract that receives the transaction.
  • Value: The amount of ETH or tokens to be transferred.
  • Data: The optional field that contains additional information or instructions for the transaction.
  • Gas limit: The maximum amount of gas units that the sender is willing to pay for the transaction execution.
  • Gas price: The amount of ETH that the sender is willing to pay for each unit of gas.
  • Nonce: The number of transactions that the sender has sent before.
How to Modify or Cancel a Pending Ethereum Transaction

Gas is the unit of measurement for the computational work required to execute a transaction or a smart contract function. Gas limit and gas price are two important parameters that determine the cost and the speed of a transaction. The cost of a transaction is calculated by multiplying the gas limit and the gas price, while the speed of a transaction depends on how competitive the gas price is compared to other transactions in the network.

Nonce is a security feature that prevents double-spending and replay attacks. Nonce is a sequential number that increases by one for each new transaction sent by an account. A transaction with a nonce value that is lower than or equal to the current nonce value of the sender account will be rejected by the network.

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When a user submits a transaction to the network, it is broadcasted to all nodes and added to a pool of pending transactions, also known as the mempool. Miners then select transactions from the mempool and include them in new blocks. Miners prioritize transactions that offer higher gas prices, as they receive the fees as rewards for their work. Therefore, users can influence the confirmation time of their transactions by adjusting their gas prices accordingly.

Why Do Ethereum Transactions Get Stuck or Pending?

There are several reasons why an Ethereum transaction may get stuck or pending for a long time. Some of the common causes are:

Why Do Ethereum Transactions Get Stuck or Pending?
  • Network congestion: When there is a high demand for transactions on the network, the mempool may become overcrowded with pending transactions. This creates competition among users who want to get their transactions confirmed faster by offering higher gas prices. As a result, transactions with low gas prices may be left behind and take longer to confirm.
  • Low gas limit: When a user sets a gas limit that is too low for their transaction, it may run out of gas before it is completed. This means that the transaction will fail and be reverted, but the sender will still pay the fees for the consumed gas. A low gas limit may occur when a user underestimates the complexity of their transaction or when they use an outdated gas estimation tool.
  • Incorrect nonce: When a user sets a nonce value that is higher than their current nonce value, their transaction will be invalid and rejected by the network. This may happen when a user manually edits their nonce value or when they use a wallet that does not synchronize their nonce value correctly.

How to Modify or Cancel a Pending Ethereum Transaction?

If a user wants to modify or cancel their pending Ethereum transaction, they have two main options:

  • In-application cancellation: Some wallets and DApps offer an option to cancel or replace a pending transaction within their interface. This option may vary depending on the wallet or DApp used, but it usually involves sending another transaction with the same nonce value but with a higher gas price. This way, the new transaction will overwrite the old one and get confirmed faster.
How to Modify or Cancel a Pending Ethereum Transaction?
  • Custom nonce: If the wallet or DApp does not have an in-application cancellation option, users can still modify or cancel their pending transaction by using another wallet that supports custom nonce. Custom nonce allows users to manually set their nonce value for each transaction they send. Users can use this feature to send another transaction with the same nonce value but with a higher gas price as their pending transaction. Alternatively, users can also send another transaction with zero value and zero data to themselves with the same nonce value as their pending transaction. This will effectively cancel their pending transaction, as the network will only accept one transaction with the same nonce value from the same sender.
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To use the custom nonce option, users need to follow these steps:

  1. Find the nonce value of their pending transaction. Users can use a blockchain explorer like Etherscan to look up their transaction details and find their nonce value.
  2. Choose a wallet that supports custom nonce. Users can use a wallet like MetaMask or Trust Wallet that allows them to set their own nonce value for each transaction they send.
  3. Import their account to the chosen wallet. Users need to have access to their private keys or seed phrase to import their account to another wallet. They should also make sure that their account balance is sufficient to cover the fees for the new transaction.
  4. Send a new transaction with the same nonce value but with a higher gas price. Users can use a gas estimation tool like [ETH Gas Station] to find the optimal gas price for their transaction. They should also check the network status and the mempool size to avoid overpaying or underpaying for their transaction fees.
  5. Wait for the new transaction to confirm. Once the new transaction is confirmed, the old transaction will be dropped from the mempool and marked as replaced or canceled on the blockchain explorer.

How to Avoid Getting Your Ethereum Transactions Stuck or Pending in the Future?

You can avoid getting your Ethereum transactions stuck or pending by following these tips:

  • Check the network status and the mempool size before sending your transactions using tools like [Ethereum Gas Tracker] or [Etherscan Gas Tracker].
  • Use a reliable gas estimation tool like [ETH Gas Station] or [Gas Now] to find the optimal gas price for your transactions.
  • Use a wallet or DApp that synchronizes your nonce value correctly and offers in-application cancellation option.
  • Do not manually edit your nonce value unless you know what you are doing.
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Conclusion

Ethereum transactions are not always straightforward and may encounter some issues along the way. Users may experience delays or failures in their transactions due to various factors, such as network congestion, low gas fees, or incorrect nonce values. However, users can also take some actions to modify or cancel their pending transactions by using in-application cancellation or custom nonce options. By doing so, users can save time and money and avoid frustration when using Ethereum.

FAQ

What is an Ethereum transaction?

An Ethereum transaction is a cryptographically signed instruction from an account to another account or to a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain.

What are the fields of an Ethereum transaction?

An Ethereum transaction has several fields, such as sender, recipient, value, data, gas limit, gas price, and nonce.

Why do Ethereum transactions get stuck or pending?

There are several reasons why an Ethereum transaction may get stuck or pending for a long time. Some of the common causes are network congestion, low gas limit, or incorrect nonce.

How can I check the status of my Ethereum transaction?

You can use a blockchain explorer like [Etherscan] to look up your transaction details and find its status, such as pending, confirmed, failed, or replaced.

How can I modify or cancel my pending Ethereum transaction?

You have two main options to modify or cancel your pending Ethereum transaction: in-application cancellation or custom nonce.

What is in-application cancellation and how does it work?

In-application cancellation is an option that some wallets and DApps offer to cancel or replace a pending transaction within their interface. This option usually involves sending another transaction with the same nonce value but with a higher gas price. This way, the new transaction will overwrite the old one and get confirmed faster.

What is custom nonce and how does it work?

Custom nonce is an option that some wallets offer to manually set their nonce value for each transaction they send. You can use this option to send another transaction with the same nonce value but with a higher gas price as your pending transaction. Alternatively, you can also send another transaction with zero value and zero data to yourself with the same nonce value as your pending transaction. This will effectively cancel your pending transaction, as the network will only accept one transaction with the same nonce value from the same sender.

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