Torches are objects that holds the fire that symbolizes a castaway's life in the game. They are given to every Survivor castaway when they first go to Tribal Council, and snuffed when they are eliminated from the game.
Torches are given at each castaway's first Tribal Council. As the castaways light their torches for the first time, the following quote is usually said:
Behind each of you is a torch. Go ahead and grab it, dip it in the flame, and get fire. This is part of the ritual of Tribal Council, because in this game, fire represents your life. When your fire's gone, so are you.
The castaways take their torches with them to every Tribal Council. As the castaway gets eliminated, Probst will say: "The tribe has spoken," and the eliminated castaway will have his or her torch snuffed at the end of each Tribal Council where it will remain in the background for later Tribal Councils. Though lit within Tribal Council grounds, they are extinguished while at camp.
(Contestant's name), the tribe has spoken.
When Redemption Island is in play, the ousted castaway would take his or her torch with them, when the eliminated contestant leaves the arena, the Production Team takes the torch from the camp site.
Torches are typically seen in the background during camp scenes and are the key element during the traditional Rites of Passage. In some seasons, torches are burned during these ceremonies. When not burned at stake, torches are sold and proceeds go to charity.
Early season torches appear to be weak in terms of keeping fire going after strong winds or rain. Stacey Stillman, Sean Kenniff, and Kimmi Kappenberg all had their torches extinguished by the weather before they got snuffed by Jeff.
Mark Burnett originally was unsure of the torches used as a symbol of a contestant's life in the game, but came across with the "fire represents life" principle.