Bitcoin mixers are services that allow users to hide the origins of their BTC coins and achieve additional privacy. In this article, we feature the best Bitcoin mixers that are available right now.
But first, let's learn a little more about Bitcoin's privacy issues and how Bitcoin mixers tackle them.
Bitcoin is not actually private
There is a misconception among some people who are not too familiar with cryptocurrency that Bitcoin is an “anonymous” currency.
This is only true from the surface level — you don’t need to provide any personal information in order to use Bitcoin and the Bitcoin protocol doesn’t care about the concept of personal identity at all. Each Bitcoin address is a string of letters and numbers that doesn’t have any meaning to a human.
However, the Bitcoin blockchain, which is a distributed ledger containing the entire history of Bitcoin transactions, is completely transparent. If you go to a Bitcoin explorer, for example Blockchain.com, you can view every single transaction made on the network ever since Bitcoin was launched in 2009.
It’s a mistake to assume that your Bitcoin transactions are private just because the blockchain protocol itself doesn’t require you to link your real-world identity to your blockchain address.
For example, when you used fiat currency such as USD or EUR to buy Bitcoin on an exchange, you likely had to provide your personal information to the exchange. Once you withdraw your coins from the exchange, a link exists between your identity and your blockchain address, even though this information is not available publicly.
An employee could leak the information or it could be stolen from the exchange by hackers. Also, the exchange might be required to provide this information to law enforcement agencies or other authorities if requested to do so.
The role of Bitcoin mixers
Bitcoin mixers attempt to solve Bitcoin’s lack of privacy by obscuring the origins of users’ BTC coins. A simplified explanation of how Bitcoin mixers work is that they pool BTC sent from different addresses together and send BTC back to users from other addresses, randomizing transaction amounts and delaying transactions to make tracking more difficult.
The idea is that you take BTC, send it to a Bitcoin mixer, and get back an equivalent amount of BTC (minus fees) that’s extremely difficult for anyone to connect to the BTC you sent into the mixer.
The best Bitcoin mixers in 2023
Make sure to check the laws regarding Bitcoin mixers and similar services in your country before using them. Cryptocurrency regulations differ from country to country and what’s legal in one country may be illegal in another.
Without further ado, let’s get into our list of the best Bitcoin mixers available in 2023:
- Samourai Wallet’s Whirlpool - A CoinJoin implementation by the Samourai team
- Wasabi Wallet - A private-by-default Bitcoin wallet
- Whir - A straightforward CoinJoin-based mixer
- UniJoin - A user-friendly Bitcoin mixer
- Mixero - Bitcoin mixer with an advanced mode for additional privacy
1. Samourai Wallet’s Whirlpool - A CoinJoin implementation by the Samourai team
Whirlpool is a Bitcoin mixing tool created by the team behind Samourai, a privacy-conscious Bitcoin wallet. You can either use Whirlpool in the Samourai Wallet interface or as a standalone desktop application.
Whirlpool obfuscates the origins of BTC coins by employing CoinJoin. CoinJoin is a method in which multiple coins from different users are combined into a single transaction. The end result is that users keep the same amount of BTC (minus fees), but on different addresses. This makes it very difficult for anyone to trace BTC coins involved in a CoinJoin transaction to their original owner.
Instead of utilizing a slow single CoinJoin cycle, Whirlpool is designed to use multiple small and fast CoinJoin cycles in order to enhance speed.
Another great feature of Whirlpool is that the service costs a flat fee. In other words, you’ll be paying the same fee regardless of the amount of Bitcoin you wish to mix. This is of course especially beneficial for those that are looking to mix a larger amount of BTC.
2. Wasabi Wallet - A private-by-default Bitcoin wallet
Wasabi Wallet is a Bitcoin wallet with built-in support for CoinJoin. Wasabi Wallet is an example of a non-custodial wallet, which means that the user is responsible for managing their own private keys.
CoinJoin transactions through the Wasabi Wallet incur a 0.3% coordinator fee. Of course, users also have to pay the fees required by the Bitcoin network for sending a transaction. However, the Wasabi Wallet waives the coordinator fee for if you want to anonymize less than 0.01 BTC through CoinJoin.
By default, all network traffic to and from the Wasabi Wallet goes through the Tor network for additional privacy. However, this setting can be turned off by the user.
3. Whir - A straightforward CoinJoin-based mixer
Whir is another Bitcoin mixer that’s based on CoinJoin. On Whir, users can choose to mix their coins with a delay or as soon as possible. The most that you can delay the mixing transaction by is a period of 2 days.
The Whir service charges a fixed 1% fee on the BTC you send through it. However, if you want even stronger privacy than the default setting, you’ll be charged more in fees (up to 3%). In addition to the platform fee, Bitcoin network transaction fees also apply.
Overall, Whir is a solid option for mixing BTC and offers a very clean interface that makes using it a breeze.
4. UniJoin - A user-friendly Bitcoin mixer
UniJoin is a Bitcoin mixer based on CoinJoin technology. An interesting aspect of UniJoin is that it randomizes the amount each user has to pay in fees in order to make the coins sent through the service even more difficult track. The fees for mixing BTC through Unijoin range from 1% to 3% — the amount you will actually be charged will depend on how lucky you get.
Notably, the UniJoin website can be accessed through the Tor browser, which makes it suitable for users who are especially privacy conscious.
Currently, the UniJoin service only supports Bitcoin mixing, although the team says they are also working on adding support for Ethereum, Litecoin and Tether.
5. Mixero - Bitcoin mixer with an advanced mode for additional privacy
Mixero is a Bitcoin mixing service based on CoinJoin. Mixero also features an “advanced” mixing mode in which BTC is channeled into the private cryptocurrency Monero (XMR) and then back into BTC for additional privacy. However, the advanced mixing mode costs more in fees.
When using the Mixero service, users can choose to pay higher fees in order to have a higher priority fee and have their coins mixed faster. The default fee on Mixero is set at 2.7%. When mixing coins on Mixero, users can choose to delay the transaction by up to 168 hours (7 days).
Are Bitcoin mixers legal?
In most jurisdictions, Bitcoin mixers are not inherently illegal, but the vast majority of mixers don’t even attempt to comply with any regulations. By this, we mean that they don’t implement know your customer (KYC) and anti money laundering (AML) checks. For this reason, we can say that Bitcoin mixers are in a gray area in terms of legality.
Unless a specific mixing service is deemed illegal to use (for example Tornado Cash in the United States), users of a Bitcoin mixer likely won’t have any issues with the law just for using the service. However, plenty of Bitcoin mixers have been shut down by authorities in various countries over the years and the operators of many such platforms have been arrested.
Bitcoin mixers can be a useful tool for any privacy-conscious user on the Bitcoin network. However, the truth is that mixers are also unfortunately used by criminals. For example, hackers who steal Bitcoin from exchanges will often use mixers to “wash” the stolen coins.
Since they can be used for money laundering, Bitcoin mixers are very controversial. Over the years, authorities in various countries have shut down multiple Bitcoin mixing services, usually alleging that they were used to facilitate money laundering. Here are just a few examples:
- Europol and Dutch authorities shut down the Bestmixer.io mixer in 2019.
- The operator of the Bitcoin Fog mixer was arrested and charged by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2021.
- Ethereum-based mixer protocol Tornado Cash was sanctioned by OFAC in 2022. It’s now illegal for US citizens and residents to use this protocol.
- The ChipMixer Bitcoin mixer was shut down in 2023 by U.S. and German authorities.
Are Bitcoin mixers safe?
The answer to the question depends on which specific mixer you are using. If you are using a centralized Bitcoin mixer, you have to trust that the operator of the service won’t steal your funds.
It’s also important to understand that Bitcoin mixers don’t provide 100% privacy. The degree of privacy that can be achieved with mixing your Bitcoins depends on the mixing process implemented by the service you are using. Also, blockchain analysis software is constantly improving over time, and can in some cases trace the origin of BTC coins even if they were sent through a mixer.
In addition, some businesses that deal with cryptocurrency might flag wallets that interact with Bitcoin mixers and refuse to accept them as customers.
The bottom line - Bitcoin mixers tackle Bitcoin’s lack of privacy
Bitcoin mixers exist because Bitcoin is only pseudo-anonymous and doesn’t really offer much privacy if a users’ transactions come under serious scrutiny. Through Bitcoin mixers, users can make their activity on the network harder to trace and enhance their financial privacy.
However, Bitcoin mixers are unfortunately also used by criminals, which is why these services are often targeted by authorities even though they’re not technically illegal in most jurisdictions.
If you want to learn more about the topic of privacy and blockchains, make sure to check out our privacy coins explainer article.