In the selective solvent extraction of naphthenic base oils, the solvent used consists of the extract obtained by treating a paraffinic base oil with a selective solvent. The extract, or partially spent solvent is less selective than the solvent itself. Selective solvents specified for the extraction of the paraffinic base oil are phenol, sulphur dioxide, cresylic acid, nitrobenzene, B:B/sup 1/-dichlorethyl ether, furfural, nitroaniline and benzaldehyde. Oils treated are Coastal lubricating oils, or naphthenic oils from the cracking, or destructive hydrogenation of coal, tar, lignite, peat, shale, bitumen, or petroleum. The extraction may be effected by a batch or counter-current method, and in the presence of (1) liquefied propane, or butane, or naphtha, or (2) agents which modify the solvent power such as, water, ammonia, acetonitrile, glycerine, glycol, caustic soda or potash. Treatment (2) may form a post-treatment effected on the extract phase. In counter-current treatment in a tower some pure selective solvent may be introduced near the raffinate outlet to wash out any extract therefrom.