Overview of Bridging, Swapping, and Wrapping tokens on Ethereum Mainnet and Polygon Mainnet
After familiarizing myself with transacting in ETH using the Metamask wallet, I wanted to try a few things on Polygon.
Unfortunately, I made few mistakes and almost lost $375 worth of Ethereum.
Not a life-changing amount of money, but still would have been a bummer to lose funds.
Thankfully, I was able to locate all of the funds after doing my due diligence to understand how the Ethereum-to-Polygon network transactions work.
I’ll share what I learned – but first, the TLDR:
TLDR: Wrapping and Swapping happen between tokens on the same blockchain network. Bridging means you are switching your funds from one blockchain to another.
Swapping ETH to MATIC
When you want to transfer ETH into other tokens, you use a process called “swapping”. During Swapping, your funds stay on Ethereum Mainnet but they are transferred to a different token.
Uniswap is a popular tool that allows you to transfer ETH to another token on the Ethereum Mainnet Network.
When you want to swap a token from ETH to something like Polygon / Matic, you’re going to end up with the MATIC token on the Ethereum Mainnet network after paying your gas fees.
Initially, however, the token might not show up in your wallet (this is what happened to me). I thought I lost my tokens because I simply didn’t see them there, and mistakenly thought my funds were lost completely.
In order to fix this, you have to click “Import Tokens” in your wallet. Search for MATIC, and select the one that says “Matic Network Token (MATIC)”.
You should then see the value of the Matic that you swapped displaying in your wallet.
Wrapping ETH to WETH:
OpenSea gives users the two options:
- Bridge Ethereum to Polygon
- Wrap Ethereum to WETH
Bridging processes are fundamentally different – more on that in the next section.
Wrapping means you are converting ETH to WETH on the Ethereum Mainnet network. You are not switching blockchains.
When you select “Wrap” and input the amounts, you will end up with WETH on Ethereum Mainnet. It should auto-display in your wallet without you having to do anything. Pretty easy.
Bridging ETH to Polygon
Bridging ETH to Polygon means you are moving funds from one blockchain network to another (off of Ethereum Mainnet and onto Polygon Mainnet).
This is fundamentally different than Wrapping and Swapping because you are literally changing blockchains.
When you bridge, you also end up swapping or wrapping tokens on the back end. ETH does not exist on the Polygon Mainnet blockchain – only WETH (wrapped Ethereum).
What does exist on Polygon Mainnet is WETH. When you select “Bridge to Polygon”, you end up with WETH bridged to Polygon Mainnet.
When you Bridge, because your funds are moved off of the Ethereum Mainnet blockchain, they might not show up in your wallet.
This is where I mistakenly thought I lost my funds the second time!
To fix this, you need to add the Polygon Mainnet network to your wallet.
Using a tool like Chainlist makes it easier. Go to the website, connect wallet, search for Polygon Mainnet, and click “Add To Metamask”.
Once its added, switching between Ethereum Mainnet and Polygon Mainnet is possible.
When you click Polygon Mainnet, you should see your bridged funds displaying in WETH – in my case 0.055 worth, below.
Once you bridge to another blockchain, you can swap and wrap different tokens on Polygon Mainnet just like you can on Ethereum Mainnet. Uniswap enables this on the Polygon blockchain too.
On OpenSea, you can transact with WETH on Polygon, but not with MATIC.
Just don’t forget to check your wallet and make sure you’re on the right network!
What do to if WETH is not showing up on your wallet:
If you switch the the Polygon Network after depositing WETH into your Polygon wallet, sometimes the tokens are hidden, and won’t initially show up.
This can also happen if you disconnect your Metamask wallet from your browser and then re-connect.
But Don’t worry! Your funds are still there, they’re just hidden.
To fix this, simply click Assets, then click “Import Token”, and paste the WETH token address into the “Token Contract Address”.
When you paste the Token Contract Address in, it should auto-populate the Token Symbol (WETH) as well as Token Decimal, 18.
Click Add Custom Token, and it should work!
Moment of Zen:
Crypto is risky. Blockchain is the wild wild west of the internet – there’s not really anywhere to go for help if you make a mistake.
The beauty of owning your private keys means that you have control over your funds.
The downside is that if you end up losing those funds, there’s really no one to blame but yourself. If I lost my funds, it would have been my own fault, and there’s not a bank to help recover anything.
In hind-sight, the funds were never really at risk of being gone forever, I simply didn’t know how bridging and swapping worked.
I should have educated myself because a lot of blockchain processes are counter-intuitive.
Crypto finance is different than the traditional banking that we’re all used to.
There are prerequisites and important steps to be taken to ensure the protocols line up and that the transactions go through smoothly.
Lesson learned: next time I try something new or experimental in crypto, I’m going to watch a few videos, read the documentation, and educate myself BEFOREHAND.
Making mistakes is part of the crypto learning experience. Fuidance of friends from time to time has certainly helped, but there will always be some trial and error while experimenting in the world of crypto.