A Comprehensive Guide To Modify or Cancel A Pending Ethereum Transaction

By Ezoh Joseph
16 Min Read

If you have ever used the Ethereum network, then definitely, you must have experienced what is normally described as a typical transaction delay. This is as a result of how validators rank transactions- users offering higher fee rates always take precedence over others. Given that Ethereum transactions are monitored by smart contracts, they are easily conducted globally without the involvement of a third party.

The ability to modify or cancel an Ethereum transaction highly depends on its state within the network. As one of the biggest blockchain platforms, Ethereum uses a decentralized network with transaction data being stored in an irreversible database. This implies that changing a transaction in this network is an important skill for cryptocurrency users operating within the rapidly evolving environment of blockchain technology.

In this guide we will explore the methods you can employ and equip you with this crucial skill to help you have control over your digital assets

An Introduction To Ethereum Blockchain

Ethereum ranks among the most popular blockchain networks within the dApp sector. The network utilizes the Proof of Work (POW) consensus mechanism to determine whether a transaction belongs to a legitimate user and should be added to the block. This consensus mechanism requires that a group of miners distributed around the world contribute large calculating resources to process the transaction validation.

For a detailed understanding of the consensus mechanism of proof-of-work, and how it differs from proof-of-stake read this informative guide.

They exchange information among themselves in order to agree whether or not the transactions are genuine. When a transaction has been verified it is put in a block that becomes part of the chain. In return miners are paid in ETH per block added to the network.

Proof of work is based on processing large data with much power consumption in a computer. Thus, not all transactions in the network can be processed together since there are a small number of nodes, and the process involves huge energy consumption. This is among the key reasons why the Ethereum network experiences slow transactions.

What Is An Ethereum Transaction?

Ethereum runs as one of the largest blockchain networks for decentralized applications(dApps). Most of these dApps have hundreds of users running numerous transactions every day. As a blockchain network Ethereum has a large number of DeFi and NFT projects running transactions on it daily.

The Ethereum network supports two main types of transactions: Contract deployment transaction, transactions without a receiver and regular transactions, which are among the simplest types of transactions used to transfer ETH from one wallet to another. An executed regular Ethereum transaction has the following key components:

  • Sender Address: This denotes the Ethereum address of the user that is executing the transaction. This is the point where the transfer of these funds is made from.
  • Recipient Address: This usually refers to another user’s address for cryptocurrency transactions. The destination Ethereum address. It is the contract address for the use in smart contract interactions.
  • ETH Amount: The amount of Ethereum to be sent in the transaction. This portrays the value being passed on.
  • Gas Limit: Transactions in Ethereum are paid by a unit called Gas, which represents how many computational works are put into operation within the network. Gas limit sets the maximal computability expenditure for the transaction.
  • Gas Price: This is the price per unit of gas in Ethereum. This is the fee validators get for processing the transaction.
  • Nonce: A nonce is an abbreviation for “number only used once,” meaning the amount of confirmed transactions being sent from a specified Ethereum address. Ethereum wallet may send various transactions from the same account without significant time lag in between. This thus makes nonce calculation essential since it identifies the order of the individual transactions. Often, users rely on Ethereum wallet applications to avoid manually dealing with nonce handling.

Ethereum Transaction Lifecycle

A transaction within the Ethereum network goes through a series of stages before being approved. These include:


Transactions in this state are the ones which have not yet been processed.


When Ethereum transactions enter a blockchain they are queued in a ‘waiting room’ known as a mempool, waiting for validators to pick them up and add them to a block. As stated earlier transactions with a high gas fee get the first priority of approval by validators since they are very profitable. On the other end transactions with low gas fees end up in pending state until they are picked up by validators.


Once a transaction is approved by validators it is then added to a blockchain block. Transactions within the in-block state are referred to as mined transactions. In the case where two transactions simultaneously get created in a block, they may be reversed back to ‘pending’ state. This is because a situation like this creates a fork within the blockchain network.


A transaction can move from the ‘pending’ to ‘replaced’ state in the case where the following happens:

  • Where a similar nonce from the same sender appears in two transactions, in a block.
  • Another transaction from the same sender with a similar nonce and a higher gas fee enters the pending stage.     

How Long Can An Ethereum Transaction Stay Pending?

Under normal conditions, an Ethereum transaction is estimated to take 15 seconds to 5 minutes before being confirmed and moved from the pending state. However, time taken to confirm a transaction can vary depending on block congestion and the set gas fee by the sender. This can vary from minutes to several hours before the transaction gets confirmed.

An Ethereum transaction can stay in pending state due to delays caused by the following factors:

Network Congestion

The confirmation time for a transaction may take up at certain occasions like during peak moments or network overloading. During this time there is an increased number of payments and dApp utilization which causes congestion.

Read this insightful article to understand blockchain network congestion, how it influences transactions and how to solve it.

Gas Price

The gas price set for your transaction determines the priority it gets from miners. Higher gas-price transactions will stand a better chance of being included into the next block, while low-gas-price transactions may have to wait out. 

Blockchain Size

As Ethereum blockchain size expands, new transactions take longer to be processed and confirmed by miners, leading to delays within the block.

Smart Contracts Complexity

Settling transactions for the complex smart contracts might be slower as compared to other traditional methods. This may result in longer confirmation times as a result of the computational requirements for executing these smart contracts.

Gas Limit

In case the provided gas limit for a transaction is too low, it might deny miners sufficient motivation to place it inside a block. In these situations the transaction might not go through or may get stalled until more gas is added.

Although these factors determine the confirmation time of a transaction, they are not always within your control. It is advisable to always stay updated of the network’s conditions and learn how to track your transaction status every time you execute one. 

How to Track Ethereum Transaction Status

To make sure your Ethereum transaction gets confirmed within the best time, it is important to monitor its progress to determine status. This can be done in the following ways:

Use of Block Explorers

You can use a blockchain explorers such as Etherscan, Etherchain, or Blockchair. 

These sites enable you to locate your transaction using the transaction number, wallet address or any other useful information concerning the same. This allows you to view the current status, the number of confirmations and other additional information concerning your transactions.

For an introductory guide to blockchain explorers, and how they work, read this insightful article

Use of Node Commands

Command line tools such as Geth and Parity can also be employed to check a transaction status.

ethereum gas tracker

If you are running an Ethereum node, you can utilize these tools to check whether the transaction has been completed or not. This technique however  involves some higher level of competence and it is mostly utilized by tech savvy.

Utilization of a Wallet Provider

Most Ethereum crypto wallets have a transaction history. For example, if you initiate an Ethereum transaction with a specific wallet such as MetaMask, Exodus, or Trust Wallet. You can easily track it in your wallet transaction history.

If you would like to know the best Ethereum wallets of 2023, read this comprehensive guide

Gas Tracking

Additionally, you can monitor gas prices to track your transaction status. Websites such as GasNow and ETH Gas Station allow you to measure present network capacity. This might help explain the reason why delayed transactions happen when the gas price is high.

How To Cancel Or Modify An Ethereum Transaction?

It is important to note that once a transaction has been added to a block by miners it becomes difficult for one to revert the change. However transactions in the mempool, which are in pending state can be canceled using two main methods: in-application cancellation and setting a custom nonce.

In-application cancellation is the easiest way to cancel a pending Ethereum transaction. This method requires users to log out of their crypto wallet, restart their browser and then log back to their wallet.

Setting a custom nonce on the other end, involves initiating a 0ETH transaction using a similar nonce, but with a huge gas fee(12% higher gas price is better). By setting another transaction to your wallet, you help prevent the previous one from being stuck in the chain. When using this method ensure you note the previous pending transaction nonce and reuse it for the new one. In the case where there are multiple pending transactions it is advisable to begin with the oldest one and utilize its nonce.

In the case where one wishes to modify a pending Ethereum transaction, you first have to cancel it using any of the above two methods and then usher in a new one.

How To Speed Up Your Ethereum Transaction?

Observing your transaction processing slowly can be a very nauseous experience. But what if you had a way to end this unrestful experience? Well this is where the idea to speed up the transaction comes in. Speeding up a slow Ethereum transaction entails optimizing the gas fee which comes as an incentive to miners.

An Ethereum transaction with low gas fee will always be outbid by ones with a higher fee. Hence it gets stuck and remains in the pending state. This state denies the network a chance to confirm any transaction from the same wallet until the previous one is processed. 

Here, users may decide to wait for the network to pick up the already existing transaction at the initial fee amount or resubmit a similar transaction but with a higher gas fee. Additionally some Ethereum wallets such as MetaMask have a custom built UI to allow you speed up your transaction. These wallets have integrated a “speed up” button to allow you to do this.

Alternatively, in case of failure during the immediate step, users can proceed with the manual setting of the gas fee under the “advanced” tab.

Can Ethereum Transactions Be Reversed?

Ethereum transactions are not reversible. The decentralized and distributed complexion of blockchain technology ensures that transactions are safe, honest, and cannot be reversed. Once a transaction has been confirmed and added to the Ethereum blockchain, it is considered final and cannot be changed in any way. When miners picks a transaction put it into a block and include it on a chain via proof-of-work consensus mechanism it is practically impossible to revert or cancel this block. 

The irrevocability aspect of Blockchain technology makes the transaction history secure and immutable. Although this characteristic boosts user confidence in the blockchain system, users need to carefully examine their transactions and only confirm the legitimate ones. This is because once a transaction has been confirmed, an error or fraudulent activity done cannot be easily corrected.


Modifying or canceling a forthcoming Ethereum transaction involves much thought with regards to the state of the transaction, network circumstances and the capabilities of the wallet or system in use. Although approaches like optimizing gas fees, setting a customized nonce and considering alternative blockchains with faster transaction times are useful they are not accepted universally.

Therefore, users should be careful in making changes or canceling the transaction otherwise, they may lose the funds spent on gas fees and the transaction will not end well. 

Meet Ezoh Joseph, a beacon writer in the often complex and ever-evolving landscape of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and decentralized finance. Translating the complexities of the Web3 technology he is able to transform tech into accessible narratives.