Similar to this question, but I'm asking specifically about bare wires, with no socket. I don't want to flip a breaker switch, or blow a fuse.
How can I test for a current in the cable(s) without a dedicated meter?
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Maybe use this.
It glows when current is present. That way you won't have to touch the wire.
However, as stated by everybody, be careful.
Theoretically, you could take a lightbulb (or nightlight, phone charger, etc.) and touch the wires to the bulb base or plug.
This would be EXTREMELY dangerous: you could die from the electrical shock. Even experienced electricians and crazy people don't do such a thing!
This is one reason there are breaker switches: so you can safely work on wiring, etc. without dying.
To answer your original question with a good and safe idea: Don't do it! Use the proper equipment.