In order to improve the removal efficiency of clays in oil refining, to explore the related factors and to clarify the removal mechanism of alkaline nitride, a series of modified clays was prepared to test removal of alkaline nitride from lubricating oil. After the addition of 1 wt.% FeCl3, the removal rate of alkaline nitride increased from 33.6% to 43.3%. Furthermore, the acidity and chlorine content did not exceed acceptable levels. The testing methods of N2 adsorption–desorption, particle-size distribution, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction were conducted to verify the removal mechanism. The removal rate of alkaline nitride is mainly related to the density of Lewis acid sites. The Fourier-transform infrared spectra confirmed the existence of the complexation reaction. The basic nitrides were removed by chemical adsorption via Fe3+-complexation.

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