How to Safely Withdraw Staked Ethereum

Staking Ethereum is becoming increasingly popular among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. It’s a great way to earn passive income by running a ‘validator’ to help secure the Ethereum blockchain. 

Unlike mining in Proof of Work (PoW) blockchains, validators secure Ethereum by validating data transactions (attestations), proposing new blocks, and participating in sync committees. This is known as Proof of Stake (PoS). When a validator completes its tasks correctly and on time, it is rewarded with small amounts of ETH. Attestations happen approximately every 6.5 minutes (an ‘epoch’) and result in smaller rewards, while block proposals and sync committee participation are less common events, resulting in larger rewards for the validator.

Staking ETH to earn rewards has been possible since the inception of Ethereum’s PoS mechanism, known as the ‘Beacon Chain,’ in December 2020. However, pioneer ETH stakers had to accept the fact that withdrawing their staked ETH deposits would not be possible until an upgrade, dubbed ‘Shanghai,’ happened sometime in the future without a definitive date. Nonetheless, hundreds of millions of dollars were locked in the Beacon Chain’s deposit contract by those eager for Ethereum to move from PoW to PoS.

Recently, the Ethereum Foundation (EF) implemented the much anticipated ‘Shanghai’ update, but since more was needed to coordinate the withdrawal process between Ethereum’s Consensus and Execution layers, it happened as a combined upgrade and included the improvements outlined in both ‘Shanghai’ and ‘Capella,’ resulting in ‘Shapella.’

Read more about the ‘Shapella’ upgrade here:
EF combines Shanghai and Capella to give birth to the latest Ethereum upgrade — Shapella

On April 12, the EF successfully enabled withdrawals of staked ETH deposits via Shapella, ushering in a whole new era for ETH staking.

If you staked ETH, you may be eager to liquidate your funds now that this option is available. However, withdrawing your stake and exiting your validator from the Ethereum blockchain requires due diligence and some caution, as it involves moving your ETH from the validator node back to your wallet using a specific process. In this blog post, we’ll outline some of the best practices for safely withdrawing staked Ethereum.

1. Understand the withdrawal process

Before you begin the withdrawal process, make sure you understand how it works. If you’ve staked on other chains, Ethereum’s rules for withdrawals are unique, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the process first. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Ethereum validators must provide a withdrawal address to enable withdrawals. Since the majority of stakers did not provide a withdrawal address on initial deposit, most will need to update their withdrawal credentials. In fact, 13.7% of validators have still not updated their credentials. If you are one of them, visit the Staking Launchpad for detailed instructions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Choose your withdrawal address wisely! Each validator can only have one withdrawal address, and once you have submitted the address to the Beacon Chain, the action cannot be undone or changed. Please double-check ownership and accuracy of the withdrawal address you provide before submitting.

2. Check your staking rewards

Before you withdraw your staked Ethereum, make sure you have received all of your staking rewards. Staking rewards are paid out at regular intervals, and you don’t want to miss out on any rewards you’re entitled to. As an added benefit, once you have provided a withdrawal address for your validator, reward payments in excess of the 32 ETH balance will automatically be sent to the linked withdrawal address on a regular basis. If you wish, you can also exit staking entirely to unlock your full validator balance.

3. Check gas fees

Not necessary! The approach the EF has implemented is very user-friendly and doesn’t require stakers to manually submit a transaction requesting the withdrawal of a particular amount of ETH. This means a transaction fee (gas) is not required, and withdrawals do not compete for existing execution layer block space.

4. Start small (by withdrawing rewards above 32 ETH)

If your validator has rewards above 32 ETH waiting and you want to make sure withdrawals are working properly for your validator, you can simply specify a withdrawal address and a partial withdrawal will be processed. This will only transfer the rewards above 32 ETH to the withdrawal address you specified and not the full validator amount.

5. Be patient

Withdrawals can take some time, and you need to prepare yourself for this and be patient. The EF says that a maximum of 16 withdrawals can be processed in a single block. This means 115,200 validator withdrawals can be processed each day, assuming no slots are missed. 

In conclusion, withdrawing staked Ethereum requires some caution, but it’s a relatively straightforward process once you understand how it works. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your staked Ethereum is safely and securely returned to your wallet. Remember to double-check everything, start small (with your rewards above 32 ETH instead of exiting the whole validator), and be patient. 

Happy withdrawing!

About SafeStake

SafeStake is a trust-minimized middle layer that promotes decentralized ETH 2.0 staking. It is the first Distributed Validator Technology (DVT) liquid staking protocol for Ethereum written entirely in Rust. SafeStake utilizes the HotStuff consensus protocol and an advanced BLS Threshold Signature architecture to provide the highest levels of security and reliability, so Ethereum validators can maximize their staking rewards.

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