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Blake2 vs TwoX

It is a common practice to the hash input of storage items when implementing a storage type with substrate. You may need to choose suitable hashing algorithms to ensure data safety and maintain a well-optimized runtime by using an appropriate algorithm for your specific use case to prevent a bottleneck during state transition.

This guide will walk you through a common problem and pitfalls faced when using a hashing algorithm on storage items that leverage FRAME hashing APIs and provide an in-depth explanation of relevant concepts.

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Reproducing errors

To reproduce the errors for this project you’ll have to set up your environment and clone the repository of the node for this project.

Environment and project setup.

To follow along with this tutorial, ensure that you have the Rust toolchain installed.

git clone
  • Navigate into the project’s directory.
cd Blake2_128Concat-vs-Twox64Concat

Navigate to faulty implementation.

git checkout a5a1bcc
  • Run the command below to build the pallet.
cargo build --release

The error is line 42 of

You would notice that no error message appeared in the terminal. This is because this error is silent, and only becomes apparent when abused by a malicious user.

Solving the error

Before delving into the details of this error, let us have a look at the storage map that the error originates from.

pub(super) type ArchiveStore<T: Config> = StorageMap<
Twox64Concat, // NOTE: Blake2_128Concat should be used here
BookSummary<T::AccountId, T::BlockNumber>,

ArchiveStore is a storage map that uses key-value pairs to store summaries about books and assign a unique key to each book summary. A key (of type Hash) can be used to randomly lookup the summary of a book if it exists in ArchiveStore.

To enable storage into runtime state trie and on-chain data verification, substrate FRAME provides different hashing algorithms(aka hashers), to retrieve the data from the state trie.

As a general principle, Blake2_128Concat should be your default hasher (we will get back to this shortly).

We can apply a more appropriate hasher by changing Twox64Concat to Blake2_128Concat like so:

pub(super) type ArchiveStore<T: Config> = StorageMap<
Blake2_128Concat, // NOTE: Blake2_128Concat should be used here
BookSummary<T::AccountId, T::BlockNumber>,
  • Recompile the pallet
cargo build --release

We have been able to use a Blake2_128Concat, which is a more appropriate hasher for ArchiveStore. Blake2_128Concat produces a hash from the key of each book summary and concatenates the key to the end of the hash.

Going in-depth

Data Abstractions

Substrate FRAME offers several storage abstractions when handling data in substrate. This is mainly due to the complexity of data handling in the context of a blockchain; ensuring efficient read and write while ensuring flexibility for data verification and consensus.

At its core, substrate uses a simple key-value data store implemented as a database-backed, modified Merkle tree. This allows all higher-level storage abstractions to be built on top of this simple key-value store.

This key-value database stores different instances of Base-16 Modified Merkle Patricia tree ("trie"), including a single state trie and trie of other forks of the state.

A child trie can be generated from the state trie for several purposes for example event verification in cross-chain verification. It is important to note the child trie is not separately stored on the key-value database and gets updated as the state (parent) trie evolves.

As mentioned above, substrate FRAME provides several higher-level storage abstractions including StorageMap.

StorageMap also called single-key storage map is a FRAME storage abstraction that is ideal for managing sets of items whose elements will be accessed randomly, using a key-to-value mapping to perform random lookups.

StorageMap is defined like so:

pub struct StorageMap<
QueryKind = OptionQuery,
OnEmpty = GetDefault,
MaxValues = GetDefault,
>(core::marker::PhantomData<(Prefix, Hasher, Key, Value, QueryKind, OnEmpty, MaxValues)>);

From the code snippet above, we can see that StorageMap allows us to specify a hasher (among other parameters).


Blake2_128Concat is a hashing algorithm that uses blake2b cryptographic hash function to generate a hash of a key and appends the key to the hash generated.

The pseudocode below demonstrates how Blake2_128Concat could work.

let key = _key;
let storage_key_hash;

function Blake2_128Concat(key) -> hex {
key_hash_as_hex = blake2::hash(key);

storage_key_hash = key_hash_as_hex.concatenate(key);

return storage_key_hash;

By appending the key to key_hash, anyone who knows the key can verify that the hash was generated from that key. Because blake2 generates a cryptographically secured hash, ie. you can not guess the preimage of a hash, only those who know a key can verify that a hash was created from it.

Because only key knowers (in some cases owners) can verify a hash of key and get access to data mapped to that key. This eliminates an attack vector where a malicious user can distort data or bombard the runtime with data updates, which may make the data read more time-consuming due to imbalance trie.


Twox_64Concat is a hashing algorithm that uses xxhash non-cryptographic hash function to generate a hash of a key and appends the key to the hash generated.

Twox_64Concat work similarly to Blake2_128Concat, concatenating a key to its hash.

Because Twox64Concat is not cryptographically secure, it is not ideal where keys are supplied by users or limited access to data is desired.

However, it is important to note that Twox64Concat is ideal for use cases where speed is desirable over data access limitation at the level of the data structure (You may need to implement a separate authorization). Twox64Concat is also ideal where the key is sufficiently cryptographically secured for the use case.

As we have seen, the choice of hasher is one that is made on a case-by-case basis and requires a deep understanding of the system you want to build to gauge between speed and cryptographic difficulty.


This guide provides an in-depth exploration into the role of FRAME storage abstraction and examined Blake2_128Concat and Twox64Concat hashing algorithms when storing data in StorageMap on a substrate runtime.

Blake2_128Concat generates a cryptographically secured hash of keys that can be verified and used to access data on a substrate runtime state.

Twox64Concat generates fast non-cryptographic hash of keys, that are ideal for low latency use cases.

Using an error-led approach, we highlighted how to decide on which hashing algorithm to use for different use cases.

We developed an understanding of substrate data abstractions and saw how high-level abstractions like StorageMap store data on-chain.

We also had a look at how data is stored as a Patricia tree in a key-value database.

For more resources on the concepts discussed in this article, check out:

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