Since both uint256 and bytes32 space are 2^256, what are the general practices for prioritizing using one over the other? why is bytes32 more expensive to execute gaswise than uint256?

1 Answer 1


uint256 is generally used for:

  • Addresses
  • Numbers
  • Account balances
  • Doing math like + - * / or **

bytes32 is generally used for:

  • Small strings of no more than 32 characters
  • Hashes (the sha3(..) functions returns a bytes32)
  • Raw data (of whatever meaning you like)
  • Situations where you need to read a specific byte like a[4]

The comparison operators work for both uint256 and bytes32:

<= < >= > == !=

Also, the bitwise operators work for both uint256 and bytes32:

& | ^ ~ << >>

  • 1
    Thanks Jesse, can you explain why bytes32 is more expensive than uint256 of same size?
    – 6egic
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 17:53
  • 1
    @ABGhostCoder I do not know. I'm trying to analyze the bytecode produced by the Solidity compiler. It seems that the compiler uses 3 extra instructions to load a bytes32 function parameter, compared to a uint256. Also, it uses 11 extra instructions to return a bytes32. With optimizations turned on, these differences disappear completely. I would assume that as the optimizer is improved more and more, bytes32 should eventually be equally expensive as uint256.
    – Jesbus
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 18:26

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