Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.Acid activation was carried out by heating muds prepared from Ca-rich bentonite (CaB), sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and distilled water, yielding various bleaching earths (BEs). The roles of each of the process variables, namely mass fraction of H2SO4 (x) in the dried CaB and pure H2SO4 mixture, heating temperature (T) and contact time (t), in the activation were tested. The raw CaB and each BE were examined with X-ray diffraction, chemical analyses, N2 adsorption/desorption, pH-metry and tintometry. The BE contents in both the aqueous and oily suspensions were set to 2% by mass in order to measure the pH value and the bleaching power, respectively. The optimum conditions for the activation to obtain a BE having the same bleaching power (0.60) as Tonsil® Optimum Bleaching Earth for soybean oil were determined as x = 0.35, T = 100°C and t = 2 h. The bleaching power increased only marginally upon increasing the activation time from 2 h up to 10 h at a given x and T. After 10 h, significant changes did not take place in the bleaching power of the BE. The mass fraction of total structural metal oxide (y), pH value, specific pore volume (V), specific surface area (S) and mean internal diameter (D) of the mesopores for the optimized BE are y = 0.10, pH = 3.0, V = 0.31 cm3 g-1, S = 225 m2 g-1 and D = 7 nm. The pH and D values were more important for bleaching the alkaline refined soybean oil compared to the other parameters tested.